Truly, I was due a good run, and a good run I finally got!
Woke up still feeling stuffed up and suffering from the head cold, but it wasn't as bad as yesterday. I planned to get out the door by 10 a.m., so I was really trying to hurry to get out the door. But with therapy slowing me down, I got out the door about 10:40. No biggie, still plenty of time to get to NYRR and get in my planned run before they close at 3. Just before I headed out the door, I downed two more Dayquil geltabs. These things are truly amazing! And I knew, given my planned miles for the day, that I'd need every advantage I could get. Twelve miles is nothing to sneeze at, so to speak. :)
On the way to the subway, I stopped and got myself a cup of caffeinated coffee. Caffeine has a powerful multiplying effect on drugs and past experience has taught me that Dayquil should probably HAVE caffeine. So it was, once again flying on cold medicine, caffeine, and albuterol, that I spent an hour on the train to 86th street. On the way, I browsed through my Nano, listening to my very favorite tracks of running music: Eye of the Tiger, Baba O'Reilly, Standing Outside The Fire, etc. I used this to pump up my motivation and enthusiasm for the difficult run ahead of me as well as to remind me of WHY I'm doing all of this: because, as my dad says: no guts, no air medal. There are other reasons, of course. My health is important and I felt today would be a prime workout for the lungs. My training schedule is important, and I needed this long run to feel like I'm still on track to Nashville. But also - and maybe more important - I run for those who can't. In the last year, I've lost several CF acquaintances. My meditations on the train centered around reminding myself that this isn't all about me: it is also about them. I WILL run Nashville, and I'll run it for Richard. Later, perhaps, I'll run New York for me.
And so, now mentally charged as well as physically drugged, I arrived at NYRR headquarters.
The weather, by the way, was stunningly beautiful today. It got into the upper 40's, I do believe, and was clear and sunny with only mild breezes. I could not have wished for better weather. I entered the park knowing that this wouldn't be an easy run, but I was determined to make the beast my bitch. My main goals: a) keep walking to a bare minimum - try for none at all. b) Keep a steady pace, trying not to let my speed get out of control. They say slow and steady wins the race, and I've found that to be true. c) Reduce my stress, or at least not let any physical complications stress me out, which has been a problem lately.
With these goals in mind, I set off. The first six miles were amazing. They came and went and just sort of flowed. I haven't felt that kind of total running experience in quite some time - my breathing was fine, my legs were fine, I was at peace, and my energy was good. I felt like all these separate systems were finally getting integrated again.
I turned around after the first loop and ran the second one in reverse. Cat Hill sure as hell is easier to run DOWN than UP. You see, going up it, it fools you at first. When running the normal direction, you reach the boathouse and get your first glimpse of the next grade. It looks gentle and easy. But the second you round the next turn and actually start up it, the whole world tilts and Cat Hill begins to look very, very vertical. The cat did not have me for lunch today.
In mile eight, I began to feel the effects of my recent lack of training and could feel my energy starting to dip. By mile nine, I knew that the last three would be a struggle. This is what training is for, I reminded myself over and over. Each hill became a fresh challenge and I had to start really slowing down to be able to get up them while still jogging. But thankfully I was able to keep my breathing and my coughing mostly under control and the hills did not defeat me. The biggest challenge was to be in mile eleven: the north end of the park, with it's major hills. I found myself really struggling, but having mentally prepped myself for this particular set of hills - and the long, steep one especially - I was able to keep going, finally making it to the top still running! The last 3/4 mile was bunny hills and then the flat section beside the reservoir. I ran the flat section double-time, finally letting my legs go and carry me through to the 90th street exit. I felt good that I could still generate a final kick for that last 1/4 mile and was amazed that my upper body actually moves less when I'm at speed than when I'm jogging. I'll have to think about that.
I made my way home and was thankful for hot water and indoor plumbing. And just a few moments ago, my new queen matress arrived! I will be sleeping on a real matress for the first time in months and am delirious with the Happy. Or maybe it's just the Dayquil.