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Friday, May 7, 2010

Race 4: May 2 - Cincinnati, OH

Running usually makes me happy. There’s a very simple rhyme that describes the runner’s high that I feel:

“Running really makes me smile—
I think I’ll run another mile!”

It’s a bit silly, but it’s true…most of the time. Normally, running emotionally, spiritually, and mentally revives me. It challenges my body physically, but is an enjoyable, invigorating challenge.

Flying Pig medal and bib number

Today was the exception. Running hurt today. The heavy, deep breaths that I took clawed my throat and scratched my lungs. My legs twitched and wobbled with each upward climb. My hands felt like blood was pooling in them—weighing them down and putting pressure on my joints. Usually when I feel like I’ve reached my physical limits, I repeat to myself, “There is no pain! There is no pain!” After a minute or two of repeating this, I break through “the wall,” and continue with my run. But today I hit the wall early (mile 3), and I couldn’t seem to get past it.

I think the reason that I hit the wall early and wasn’t able to tear it down was because I was extremely grumpy this morning. I just wasn’t in the right mindset. With severe thunderstorms in the Cincinnati area, I barely slept. By the time my 4:30 a.m. alarm chirped, I had slept maybe a total of 4 hours. In a zombie-like state, I somehow managed to eat, get dressed, and gather my belongings without waking my grandparents. I went downstairs to my car, walked outside, and immediately felt the rain that was moving over the tri-state area.

Cold, damp, tired, and grouchy do not make a good combination. It took all of my willpower to resist the urge to march back up the basement stairs in my grandparents’ house, change into dry clothes, and curl up under warm covers. I forced myself to drive into Cincinnati, park, and finish getting ready for the race.

Even with performance socks, soaked feet + running = blisters

Luckily, I remembered to bring a garbage bag to wear over my running clothes. Runners often use garbage bags as raingear before and during races since they can easily be disposed of once the rain lightens up. It’s not environmentally friendly, but it works really well in wet races. The trash bag kept me warm and relatively dry at the start and for the first part of the race. I discarded it between the mile 2 and mile 3 markers. It became cumbersome, and since my socks and shoes were already soaked, trying to stay dry seemed moot.

Looking stylish in my garbage bag

I realized early in the race that I couldn’t let my grumpiness show—not while I was wearing my “CURE LUPUS” shirt. I didn’t want anyone to negatively associate my grouchy behavior with the Lupus Foundation. I forced myself to be friendly enough—thanking volunteers at the water stops, high-fiving little kids in the spectator areas, and talking to the Elvis impersonator.

Admittedly, I didn’t go out of my way to talk to other runners. Normally, I can’t resist the opportunity to talk to new and interesting people, but today I just couldn’t stand being around this huge crowd. Even so, I made a conscious effort to avoid irritating anyone. Hopefully, despite how grumpy I was feeling, I appeared to be a model ambassador for lupus awareness!

Soaking wet after the race

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