If you just looked at the Garmin record of today's run, you wouldn't see anything special. I covered 14 miles in a 9:18 pace. On a lot of days, I would have been very disappointed in a performance like that. But today was different. I was a little startled earlier in the week when I looked at my schedule and saw that I had a 14-miler planned for today. But my workout plan calls for a lot of mileage, and what's really startling is how few miles I've put in over the past couple weeks. Last week, I only ran 44.8 miles, and the week before, 46. What happened to the 65- and 67-mile weeks I had been logging in February?
Last week I cut my mileage short on a couple days because of the half-marathon, the week before, it was skiing, and yesterday I decided not to run intervals because I was worried about my IT band.
By this morning, I was tired of making excuses. I was going to run my 14 miles no matter what, so I lept out of bed when my alarm went off at 5:30. The plan was to run 1.3 miles into town and join the DART group for 6.3, then run the remaining 6.4 miles on my own. I knew it might be rainy, but it wasn't particularly cold -- about 50 degrees, so I put on a long-sleeved compression shirt, my National Half Marathon T-shirt, and shorts. Then I went downstairs, ate a banana, got my fuel belt ready, and headed outside. It was an absolute downpour. As I started running, I decided my wet hands might get cold (I normally don't need gloves when the temperature is above 40), so I returned to the garage to get my gloves. That turned out to be an excellent decision.
At 5:45 a.m. in late March, it's still pitch black outside. I wore a headlamp, but that mostly served to illuminate the raindrops before they spattered on my face. Within a few minutes, I was soaked to the bone. At least it wasn't too cold. I spotted a die-hard runner on Concord Road. I don't think there's been a day when I haven't seen her running alone in the darkness. We exchanged familiar waves.
I didn't expect anyone from the DART group to be at the CVS when I arrived at 6. I stopped for 30 seconds or so just to make sure, then resumed running. I couldn't decide whether it was better to run in the street, where cars might not see me in the darkness, or on the sidewalk, where large puddles loomed and low-hanging branches threatened to smack me in the face. I ended up doing some of both. Even though I had a fuel belt and could run wherever I wanted, I decided to run the regular DART loop, which would keep me near houses most of the time, away from roads without sidewalks, and close enough to home that I could bail out if things got really bad.
I ran through the greenway to Avinger Road, and was surprised to see another runner, an older woman in a raincoat who I'd also seen before. This would be the last runner I'd see all morning.
I wasn't paying attention to my splits; I just wanted to get through this. Although there were occasional, very brief let-ups in the rain, for the most part it was a solid downpour. When I arrived at the next section of greenway, the volume of rain actually increased. It was like running through a waterfall. To enhance the effect, the greenway in this section was very poorly drained, so it was pretty much a solid 2-inch deep puddle. It felt rather more like surfing than running.
I realized I should probably stop and eat some energy gels and drink some water. To do this, I had to remove my sopping-wet gloves, which at this point had more in common with sponges than articles of clothing. I also realized I needed to urinate, which I did on the side of the trail. I was quite sure there wouldn't be any nearby dog-walkers or bikers to offend.
As I looped by my house around Mile 7.6, I thought about dropping off my gloves, but I had found that my hands would alternate hot and cold, so I decided it would be better to keep them, even though my fingertips were starting to wrinkle from contact with the sopping-wet, spongelike gloves. For the rest of the run I'd alternate between wearing and carrying the gloves depending on whether I felt hot or cold.
Amazingly, my new iPod shuffle kept playing throughout the run. Even though it is tiny, the other day I had managed to operate it with gloves on. However, soaking-wet gloves proved too much for it. Despite this, I highly recommend its voice-navigation feature for easy operation on dark mornings.
I repeated the same loop again, with no letup in the rain. Other than a lone dog-walker, I saw no other runners or pedestrians. As I approached home, I knew I'd need an extra two miles, so I ran an extra leg into River Run, trying to time my turnaround so I'd arrive home at exactly Mile 14. I also tried to pick up the pace a bit for the last two miles. Looking at my GPS record, I did speed up a little: My splits for miles 12, 13, and 14 were 9:42, 9:24, 9:03.
Arriving home, I took off my shoes and walked into the kitchen in sopping-wet socks, leaving little puddles everywhere I stepped. I was soaked from head to toe. I got Greta to take a picture of me, but I don't think it does justice to how thoroughly drenched I was:
The details of today's run are below: