September 18, 2005

Running is not pretty* part 3



Running is not pretty -- unless you're higher than a geosynchronous satellite! Then it's marvelous! Still not pretty to the people around me, I'm sure, but from my POV -- fan-frickin'-tastic!

Okay, so I didn't run yesterday, though my long runs are usually Saturdays. I had a rehearsal to attend and then had to keep packing my stuff. I'm moving Tuesday. Also had to prepare for today's stoop sale. I also got hit full-on with a cold or flu or something yesterday - resulting in nearly non-stop coughing - and had to track down some Dayquil in order to make it through rehearsal. I also got myself a decaf coffee, figuring I could use the tiny amount of caffeine for once.

Well, I left rehearsal on my toes -- and pumped up with energy. I don't know what it was, but I felt great.

Today, after cleaning up after my 10-4 stoop sale, I really REALLY didn't feel like running. It would not be pleasant, I was tired, achy, still battling a fever and stuffed up/runny nose. I thought, hey, I've got a good reason not to run this weekend. Missing one long run won't hurt, right? I've got plenty of time to keep trainng for the Staten Island Half. Uh-huh.

And then the Mr. Smart part of my brain - or the Mr. Brash - decides to "motivate" me. Perhaps I'll feel better if I take more Dayquil, I thought, even though I'd already had some about eight hours previously. So I took two Dayquil. Put on my running clothes. Filled my powersnot flask and took a shot. Filled my water bottle with the last of my HEED. And stepped out the door.

Plan: three laps of Prospect Park, which is pretty near exactly 10 miles. In fact, I'd take the train up and stretch while waiting for the train. Mr. Brash spoke up again: hey, as long as we're gonna have to wait for the F, why not get a little coffee? Comeon...you know you wanna.

I stopped and got myself a half-cup of what looked like strong coffee, and filled the other half of the cup with milk. As I waited for the train, with water bottle, powersnot flask, and coffee in hand, I drank the coffee pretty quickly. The Dayquil was also beginning to kick in. I began stretching my hamstrings.

Two policemen and a woman came up the stairs looking all important. She pointed out an abandoned bag about thirty feet away from me. Another woman and I watched as the officers and lady crowded around this non-descript black soft-sided briefcase. Images of a certain video from Iraq came to mind. And one officer stooped down and unzipped the bag.

Had the bag actually contained a bomb, he, his partner, and the lady would have been obliterated and I would find myself typing this entry from the ICU. Thankfully, nobody was a lotto winner today. (I mean, seriously, what are the chances, right?) 'Course, then my mind goes back to a conversation I had with my neighbor during my stoop sale today and he's talking about a case that didn't make the papers (he's in law enforcement) where the police headed off a dual-subway bombing back in '03 right near here at Union street station. Great.

So anyway... the train comes, I get on, the Dayquil keeps working and now the caffeine is getting into the act, too. Perhaps also some lack of nutrition, since I hadn't eaten much today. I feel a little taller than normal. By the time I get to the park, I wander inside, locate my special tree and stash my water bottle and powersnot and take off.

And man did it feel good! I'm not just talking about the first lap, I'm talking all three! I stopped at the tree each time and gulped some HEED and some goo and then would reverse direction and do another lap. Three laps... and I felt unbelievably strong and powerful throughout. There were only barely some energy dips and those weren't severe.

My legs kept pumping at what I would consider a good half-marathon or even 10K pace. I mean, I really think I was flying around that park -- can't be absolutely sure about that, since I also seemed to be about three inches taller than usual. I was running on someone else's legs, that's for sure, 'cause they didn't get tired, they didn't feel like lead at the start, and any minor pains I had felt like they belonged to somebody else.

On every lap, I passed a big Jamaican celebration that was permeated with the smell of ganja BBQ. I was tempted to stop and ask for a hit bit, but decided running sounded more fun than eating. I also kept seeing that guy on the tall unicycle. No, I'm not making that up, he wasn't a hallucination. The midgets, those might have been a hallucination.

It didn't even bother me before the first lap was done that the first lap wasn't even done yet. I was just thinking, hey, the first lap is almost done! That's, like, almost a third! Then I dwelt for some time on what "one third" means. This is my birthday weekend. I turned 34 yesterday. I'm officially one-third of a century old. And my run was divided into thirds. This seemed to me very cosmic and right.

My coughing was still up there. My coughing usually tapers off after the first couple of miles and doesn't come back 'til I'm cooling down after a run. But not with this cold or whatever it is. Even with the Dayquil, the cough was present consistently through my run, though not as productive as usual. Heck, I usually cough up a good 2 or three fluid ounces of stuff by the end of a run, but it was pretty dry today. Perhaps the expectorant in the Dayquil was helping me move stuff more efficiently. (At some, point, I promise you, you'll get a glimpse into why I actually started the "running isn't pretty" series.)

I also noticed that at various times, particularly after a hill, I would get pretty cold around the shoulders and base of my skull. I've noticed this before and wondered, this time, what causes it? Perhaps it means I'm not running hard enough on the flats or downhills because my metabolism is dropping. Or maybe I've run too hard and all my blood is being shunted to my leg muscles, starving the keep-me-warm organs and perhaps the braaaaaiiiiins. Could be a tumor. (It's not a tuma.) Then I thought, maybe I'm dying. Yes, this makes sense; because every time a run has been difficult and painful and I thought, God, I'm dying!, I have a) not died, and b) not been cold. But now I'm getting cold and that jives with the whole cold, white light thing. Depictions of the soul leaving the body through the nose or mouth or chest cannot be more wrong. Clearly, the soul leaves the body through the back of the shoulders and the base of the skull. The cold I was feeling was my soul tugging its way through my skin and reaching (I hope) skyward. But -- aside from the cold feeling, I had no other indications I was actually dying. I saw neither a tunnel, nor a white light, nor the wispy visage of the Angel of DeathTM.

After ten miles, the sun was down, dusk was nearly dark, and I felt as strong as when I started. Now THAT's unusual! (I wonder if Dayquil is considered a performance-enhancing drug?) Still feeling really good, though not QUITE as high, and pretty sweaty and smelly, I went to get some groceries and splurged on a can of Murphy's Irish Stout. After all...it's my birthday weekend. And today's been great. And...uh...stout is actually a great recovery drink. Or so I've heard.

1 comment:

partyrunner said...

nice run. good job on resisting jamaican celebration though i may have sniffed a little extra. to catch a little taste of the food of course. and yes, murphys is indeed excellent recovery drink.

i've heard you say running isn't pretty thing before. but even with the coughing and the sweat and all the icky things that come with it, i still find running, even in sloppy forms, slow, fast, hunched over, upright, a beautiful thing...

oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

p.s what show are you working on?