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Sunday, January 16, 2011


At this point, every Sunday is the second-longest run of my life, which is really intimidating when you think about it. Only once ever have I run farther than I did today, and it took me a full week to recover. If you think about it, it gets overwhelming.

That's why it helps me to stop thinking and just run. Particuarly when the weather is bad, the best thing I can do is get up as soon as the alarm goes off  (or, in today's case, when the dog pushes me out of the bed), get dressed and get running before I can really even wake up. If I would have thought about how far I had to go and just how bad the weather was, it would have been difficult for me to convince myself that this was a good idea. So this morning, I didn't think about that stuff. I got up, got dressed, and got on the road.

And it was not pleasant. It was raining much harder than last week, pouring at times. I was soaked within the first two miles. The only thing I did think about before leaving was protection of myself and my property, so I didn't bring the iPod for three reasons. First, I was running before sunrise in the rain, and I wanted to make sure I could hear any car that might be hydroplaning toward me. Second, I don't know how much water those things can withstand, and I'm not about to risk it. Third, I was reading some marathon rules this week, and noticed that marathons have only recently been given the option of allowing iPods, so I definitely need to do some training runs without one in case I come across a race I want to do that does not allow them. Not sure if Austin allows them. Better check on that.

The other preparation thing I did was actually taught to me by my friends as a tip for tailgating in the rain. Before putting them into my pack, I put my phone and cash into a plastic bag. I figured the pack would soak through, but that way the phone (which doubles as my stopwatch) would survive. On my long runs, I always bring a little cash, just in case I need a bus or water or something. Never had to use it, but it's comforting to know that it's there.

The trick to running in the rain is giving yourself over to it. The upside of today's run was that it was a little warmer than last week, and there was very little wind. That last one makes all the difference. It's easier to run in cool weather as long as there isn't an icy blast to stop your lungs short.

I used last week's first 6 miles or so, and then rotated a bit to actually include some of the Austin Marathon course. Ideally, I would do this with every race, but that's not exactly plausible. The important thing will be to double-check the elevation chart on the USA Track and Field Website and their route-mapping program. (It's great for planning training runs, but doesn't take into account updated roads and roads without sidewalks, so make sure you know the area in which you're running.) Checking this chart will help keep me from unexpected surprises, like the rather sharp hill at San Jacinto and 13th. That would not have been fun to discover at the 26-mile mark.

My new path included about the last 6 miles of the Austin Marathon course, through the finish line. Of course, I still had 4 miles to go after that, but it gave me an idea of the late-course terrain. I must say, I really like it, with the understanding that we'll be running in the road and not on the sidewalk, because the sidewalks on Duval are a little iffy. Might have been enhanced by the rain a bit, but still, I'm glad we'll be in the street.

The other nice thing about this part of the course is that it's predominantly downhill to the end. With the exception of the aforementioned surprise on San Jacinto, it's a great path on which to stride out and let the downhill take you away.

What surprised me most in this awful rainstorm was the fact that I actually felt pretty good for most of the run. After the finish line, where I pretended the crazy homeless woman was cheering for me, I actually felt the desire to pick up my pace a little, and did so. Maybe it was the warmer weather. Maybe I'm just in better shape. Maybe it was the fact that I was done with a 16 mile run before most brunch restaurants are open. Not sure, really, but I felt great the whole run, and it showed in my final time.

The only issue was that my left knee started acting up. Usually my right knee gets a bit mad at me, but the left one is new, and it's a different kind of pain. I'm sure it's just an effect of running in Austin's third straight day of rain, but it's something I'll be watching closely. Can't risk injury this close to a race.

All in all, it's great to run all kinds of weather, because you have to be prepared for all kinds of weather. If it's raining on February 20th, I can't ask them politely to hold the start until the sun comes out. So, if it is raining that day, I'll be really happy that I went on today's run.

And if it's sunny, I'll be even happier.

Today's Run:
49 Degrees / Rain
16.08 Miles
2 hours, 7 Minutes, 13 Seconds

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