The best part of a really long run is finishing.
The second best part is asking myself an unending series of absurd questions as they roll through my mind in between mathematically determining what percentage of my run I have completed and what my pace is, since I don't have a fancy GPS watch yet. That sleepy haze between night and morning does things to your brain, and if you let it wander, you won't even notice your legs, much like me on this glorious Saturday morning.
A sampling from today's questions:
Is the actor who played Viggo in Ghostbusters 2 still around? And if so, does he live in Austin and wear black leather pants around at 6 in the morning?
Why does a lingerie store need a delivery van?
Where the hell am I?
Why do they make these Goo Packs so hard to open?
Is that water stop for me?
Did I just ruin a wedding photo?
Did I really just run 15 miles?
It was bound to get a little harder to continue waking up at my new hour. Sleep deprivation, such as it is, has a cumulative effect, and for at least the first couple weeks, it's going to take a little getting used to. Mostly, I just hope that I stop worrying about whether or not I'm going to wake up on time and get better sleep for the hours that I do get to spend in bed. Last night, I fell asleep relatively quickly, but I found myself waking up often. When the alarm went off and I crossed the room to get it, I had my first mental battle.
I wanted nothing more than to get back in bed. No, I thought, but I can go out on the couch and rest for half an hour, and then I'll start my run. I gathered my things, and as I closed the bedroom door behind me, I found that I'd woken up, and I knew that I absolutely could not allow myself to get on that couch. Awake I was, and awake I would stay. I got suited up and did two rounds of my glute strengtheners, saving my third round for when I got back.
The air was much heavier than it was yesterday. Don't get me wrong, the temperature today had nothing on Wednesday's run through hell, but I knew this was going to be a challenge. My adjusted schedule (sorry, Hal, don't hate me) had me running 15 miles today, which is nearly twice as long as I've run in five weeks. I realize I'm jumping back in a little strong, but I've only got 8 weeks until Seattle, and want to have time to taper. Despite the distance, I felt confident, because I knew that I wasn't going to push myself too hard, and my legs have felt better every run this week.
So off I went into the dark morning, and I just let myself relax.
My route was very different today, as I knew that I'd want something interesting to distract me from how far I was going. Every day, I drive past a sign that mentions the Umlauf Sculpture Garden, and I've never seen it, so I directed my steps that way. Of course, it was 6am, and I couldn't see anything. Next week's 17 has me going by the same point, so I'll make sure I put that at the end of the run. This little turn also added a long, steep uphill to the second mile of my run, which was not my intent at all. Oh well, I thought. Good thing this isn't for time. Then I passed Viggo, and my mind started to wander, so I didn't even notice that my legs were getting heavy.
Overall, I found my course to be rolling, and it was a good mix of moderate ups and downs that kept it challenging without making any one part unbearable. I ran down streets I know in the opposite direction from which I normally run them. For once, I really watched the businesses I passed, and wondered about whether they'd be worth visit (and why they might have delivery vans) I found a new park with a lovely running path and, so the sign read, a wading pond, which I'll want to check out later. I just have to make sure to use the correct roads getting out of there. Evidently it's easy to get lost. And add half a mile to your run. Whoops.
At about 7 miles, I let myself take a one-block breather to gear up for the second half of the run. I wasn't in pain, and I wasn't too tired, but I just wanted to focus myself. A little after 8 miles, I had some goo. At first I wasn't wild about the energy goos, but I read something in one of my Runner's Worlds that said you should have a goo about every 75 minutes, but that you actually have to consume it earlier than that, because it takes a little bit to get into your system. That information really changed how I will use them in the future, and it was highly beneficial for me today, because I felt better on my second half than on my first. Now if only it didn't take me 90 seconds to open the stupid things...
I turned up Red River in search of the LBJ Library, which I want to check out, maybe when my father comes to town. While I was generally disappointed with the outward appearance of the building, I'm glad I ran past it, because now I won't question the plainness of the place when I'm driving up. Looping around the building, I headed back down to the stadium and over to San Jacinto, one of my favorite roads on which to run. Turning south, I was surprised to see a water stop. Evidently it was for the Texas Roundup 5K. I thought about asking for some water, but I had a CamelPak on, so I didn't want to seem greedy. I very much appreciated, though, that the police had my running route blocked off for the next half mile. Don't worry, I didn't bandit. They wouldn't start the race for another half hour.
After the evil San Jacinto hill (evil because it pops up in the last mile of the Austin marathon), I was cruising. My legs felt great, and I was even able to run on the sharper downhills that worried me walking a few weeks ago. Another right, and I was headed to the trail around Town Lake. There was a couple standing on the corner at Congress in what appeared to be wedding garb, and it looked like they were trying to take a picture. The problem was, they'd been there when I'd run by earlier. About 5 miles earlier. I worried that I got in the shot, but didn't worry too much, because no one seemed to be in much of a hurry. Then it was onto the path, across the bridge, down the street, around the corner, up the hill and I was done.
Just like that. No problems. No pain. A little exhaustion, but that's to be expected, right? I had completed 15 miles before the top finishers in the Texas Roundup finished 5K. The morning is mine. The whole day is mine. And I'm excited to see what comes next.
As one last note, there is a hero song credit today. That last "up the hill" was a little more troublesome than maybe I'm letting on. The first two parts of the hill weren't bad, but the last stretch was just getting to me when Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" started playing, one of my newly acquired favorite songs.
And Peter said to me, "Grab your things, I've come to take you home."
And so he did.
73-77 Degrees / Overcast
2 Hours, 12 Minutes, 10 Seconds