WEATHER: Oh mah gawwwd. 95 degrees, with 124 gajillion% humidity
MILES THIS WEEK: 23.5ish
WHERE TO: Sunburnland
MOOD: <deep, contented, cleansing breath>
Stage 9: Going Overboard
You’re back, sister! Holy God, congratulations! <flaps hands> Your leg/foot/tendon/ligament/deeply blistered heel is recovered, and you can crank out relatively high mileage. Screw Bodypump/yoga/swimming/Sit & Be Fit! WE’RE BACK ON THE WAGON! LET’S DO 30 MILES TO CELEBRATE! Somebody HAND ME MY RUNNING SHOES AND CRUSH A BOTTLE OF ADVILS INTO MY WATER BOTTLE.
OK, hooooold on, Hoss. I know you’re all excited, but let’s really think about this. I want you to think back to anything else in life that has ever caused you enough discomfort/irritation that you considered quitting it for good. Like drinking. Or that one handsome fellow from a few years ago with the gorgeous calves. Did you go straight back? No. You stayed in and did embroidery on Saturday nights/dated a series of men who can only be described as “chicken-legged.”
But soon the call of the trail/Cuervo/Dreamboat comes back, and before you know it, you’re ready to go back to 35-mile, sweaty, shoe-squishing, ponytail-squeezing-out, quad-destroying, pasty-stomach-showing, long runs/36-oz. Alabama Mammer Jammer Bammer Slammers/long dull jabberfests at hipster coffee shops as Calf Guy talks about his Life-Changing Gap Year.
We all know how this ends, of course. You reinjure yourself/end up drinking a Karkov-Crystal-Light cocktail on the roof of the Big Hunt on Sunday at 3 AM/trekking across town with a box of that loser’s stuff from your house so you can inform him that he can TAKE BACK HIS CLASH RECORDS, BECAUSE YOU NEVER LIKED THEM ANYWAY.
Anyway, not-entirely-fitting analogies aside, there is good reason to take it slow. Actually, there are several. And so I now give you a list of reasons to be cautious out there and maybe convince you to hold off the superheavy running for a bit.
1) Heat. Is Washington, DC, under a ginormous heat advisory? It most certainly is, and running more than 18 feet will cause you to get into full-on dripping mode, in which you jog past happy Old-Navy-Flag-T-Shirt wearing tourists and spatter spatter spatter GAAAAAAHHHH your sweaty ponytail has given them a full-on nasty shower. Ewwwww. Go squeeze out and lie down, lady.
2) Vehicles. Maybe it’s just the angry bike-commuter in me, but I’m pretty convinced at this point that motorists in Washington, and particularly garbage truck drivers, are just GUNNING for anyone silly enough to be out and about, just vulnerably walking/running/biking around, without the benefit of a steel automobile frame around them. The same goes for Georgetown BMW drivers (redundant phrase), for whom stop signs and turn signals/concerns about vehicular homicide are not understandable concepts. Or taxi cab drivers, who cannot execute a lane change over the course of less than half a mile, and will sloooowwwwly edge a runner/biker out of the bike lane, eventually pancaking one into a smear on the side of a Prius. (Seriously. Many District taxi drivers can start changing lanes somewhere at Dupont Circle and not completely get over the lane line until well into Bethesda. True story. But I digress.)
3) Wildlife. Seriously. Yesterday on my towpath run, I most definitely encountered countless squirrels, a pair of mallards who were surprisingly OK with being within 3 feet of every biker/runner in DC, and 2 giant pterodactyl-like herons that could easily eat one’s face and pluck out one’s eyes like little squishy olives with their monster needle beaks.
“Oh, don’t be a wuss,” you say.
And I respond by introducing you to the ultimate runner archnemeses, the GEESE OF DEATH, who sit next to the canal looking like they’re just minding their own business, thinking about where to poop next, and so you jog HISSSSSSSSSSSS HISSSSSSSSSSSS SQUAWK FLAP FLAP FLAP HISSSSSSSSS oh GOD they are CHASING YOU with surprising speed and your life is over and you have NEVER EVEN SPOKEN TO LANCE BASS <sob, whimper>.
4) Lack of Running Buddies. After one runs in DC for long enough, one learns an inalienable truth: just as surely as you will step in vom while running in Adams Morgan, just as surely as you will run into and/or slime a respectable/entitled-looking older lady while running in Georgetown, and just as surely as every dog-walking schmo you meet thinks that the leash law doesn’t apply to THEIR little
rabid and ill-tempered angel, people move away rather quickly. And specifically, running buddies move away.
I do say this in spite of having finally convinced a friend to run with me on occasion — a fellow from my a cappella group (stopjudging) whom I shall call “Stretch,” because with our extended 5:30 AM slog on the Mt. Vernon Trail on Friday, he greatly stretched my conception of how much pre-work running is OK. Also, he’s, like, Manute-Bol tall. Does he deal relatively well with my 15th-mile, dehydrated-to-the-point-of-dementia, Gu-spewing nonsense? Most certainly. Is he training for an Ironman?
But Godbless’im, he only rarely points out that marathons are totally for weenies since my races take roughly one-third of the time of his, and furthermore holds his tongue on the point that, despite my overgrown cockiness and overblown claims to the contrary (I could TAKE YOU DOWWWN!), I have all the swimming skills of a Holstein and would need water wings and a fair amount of amphetamines to complete a triathlon. Fair point, Stretch.
5) Humidity + Long Runs = Chafing. Ow ow ow ow ow <steps into shower> OW OW SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP <bites fist> <muffled swearing> <punches wall>.
6) You can’t stay in and eat Peanut Butter Puffins and watch/cry at Ally McBeal reruns while running. Enough said.
Stage 10: Swallowing A Mouthful of Gnats and, Shirtless, Hornking Them Out Onto the Sidewalk In Front of a Tour Group of Middle-Schoolers
“Dude that chick was PALE,” they say.
Stage 11: Running out of Stages to Talk About
Bahahahaha how self-referential and pomo. MOVING ON.
Stage 12: The Triumphant Return
…in which you show up at a marathon (as I shall in 3 weeks) and kick its ever-loving ass straight out of Duluth and into the next county.
But perhaps I should point out thatthere is a Stage 13, also known as “Relapse.” This happens when you go straight back to your old non-stretching/VFF-wearing/overtraining ways. You idiot. CONSTANT VIGILANCE. There is no room for complacency in running! Fortunately, there are signals to remind you to stay on the straight and narrow. That twinge in your knee that presages a real injury. That throb in your muscle. That dizziness. That twitch. Th-
“SQUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWK!” say the Geese of Death as you accidentally veer into the grass.
“You know, a reasonably well-trained monkey could do a marathon,” says Stretch.
“SQUAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWK!” says the mighty heron, going for the eyes.
And by God, they are right.