The day started off with such promise. Actually, it was almost like any other Sunday - ready for a long run - and there was no reason to think this Sunday would go any different.
I decided to run alone, run the 18 miles around my house. It was a unique course for me as I would try to run from my house to Mt. Rubidoux and back. I'd actually have to make up miles as a direct shot from here to the top of Mt. Rubidoux would have been less than 18 miles, but no bother. As long as I got my mileage in and did so with Mt. Rubidoux in there somewhere is all that mattered.
Now, on Saturday night I'd worked late and did not get home until 1:20 a.m. Since the Lopers were meeting at 5:30, I figured I could use the extra sleep which is why I ran here around my house, but four-plus hours didn't seem that great when the alarm woke me up a few minutes before 6.
Oh man, is it time already?
I gathered up all my stuff: ate a Clif bar (although I wasn't hungry), filled up the bottles on my fuel belt with Gatorade, grabbed three GUs, strapped on my phone, the Garmin, the Polar, grabbed a hat and sunglasses... did everything well save for the nipples. I haven't found my tape and didn't check to see if we had Band-aids, so just didn't think too much about it this morning.
I stepped outside and it was almost foggy. Very overcast, to the point that I couldn't see Mt. Rubidoux. Usually I can see it from my house, but not this morning.
I set off and was more excited than worried. I just tried to break the run apart into portions. The first one would be at around the three-mile mark where I'd turn onto a main street that would take me to the foot of Mt. Rubidoux - Mission Boulevard. I got there soon enough, probably took it a little too easy on Mile 3 as I came in with a nearly 11-minute mile. I wanted to take it easy, wanted to negative-split in the run but this was too easy. Mile 4 was at about 9:50 which was better.
Before I knew it, I'd eaten a GU and had finished one of my four water bottles. I was feeling good, strong, and waiting to see the top of the mountain - or any part of it.
I looked down at my shirt and a small red spot was visible. It was around Mile 5 or 6 at this point and I wondered how much longer it would bleed. I also wondered why I hadn't done anything to them, just had walked out of the house without thinking much about them.
Finally, around the end of Mile 6 I saw Mt. Rubidoux. It pushed through the low-hanging fog and stood ominously before me. I was on a bridge crossing over a small river...
... when I saw it. And then on my headphones
Dejate caer, dejate caer
La tierra es al revez
La sangre es amarilla
Maybe that's not the best song to hear when I'm over a bridge.
Let yourself fall, let yourself fall
The earth is upside down
The blood is yellow
Let yourself fall
I focused on the other side of the bridge and figured I'd power through this part, but thoughts of letting myself fall from the bridge zipped by my mind regardless.
Finally I made it across and wondered where the sidewalk went. I'd only ever driven past this part of Mission, which takes you into Riverside city limits. The sidewalk runs a bit higher than street level so I found my way without too many problems. Up ahead of me was a small tunnel in which I would run through and thought how long the tunnel had been there (probably since the 1930s) and thought it would be cool to run through it.
Ack! That smells disgusting!
I've been in some awful bathrooms that didn't smell as bad as that tunnel smelled, so I chalked that up as a loss and tried to not breath until I was well away from the tunnel.
Eventually, I swung a right and then another and then I was at the base of Mt. Rubidoux. I went through the gates and started my usual Thursday-morning routine on Sunday. It was still overcast, still cool but comfortable, and I was still feeling good. I was at 7.3 miles when I ran through the gate and all was good.
Oh, it's a little more red.
My shirt was brighter than before, not much, but noticeable. Several people walking opposite of me gave me a double take and I tried to ignore them. I mean, it's tough to see someone wearing a white shirt with blood stains on it and not look twice. Still, I tried to hide it as much as possible but that was too taxing.
Eff it. Let 'em stare.
Two miles later and I was at the top of Mt. Rubidoux. I was surprised that I hadn't felt too bad considering I was at 9.3 miles in. In fact, I felt pretty stinkin' good for where I was. I stopped at the top to GU up and drink some Gatorade, then went right back down. Home didn't seem like a long ways away and I took that as a sign that I felt good and not quite longing to go home.
On my way down I drew more stares. What else are people going to do? The fog minimized the views of the surrounding area so people had to look at something, and the big red spot on the white shirt of the runner heading downhill was just as good as anything apparently.
I wish they knew I was running 18 miles.
Frankly, I didn't care but I felt like telling them there was a reason to the madness.
When I got to the bottom and out the gate I was relieved. There werent' too many pedestrians out and cars on Misson weren't going to slow down and stare at me, so I figured it was just me and the road for the next seven miles.
Still feeling good.
I took my final GU at about Mile 14 and felt strong, and felt like giving one last good push. I ran across a Swap Meet which was hopping, and of course the increase in people meant an increase in stares. I just put my head down and ran past people whenever I came up to any of them.
I don't give a *#^@what they think.
I was powering through an 18-mile run - AN 18-MILE RUN - so why would I give a crap what some random person saw or thought?
Finally I was down the last three miles, and this was a pretty lonely part of the run. I'd wanted to run sub-10-minute miles here and I did well to that. Mile 16 was 10:02 but Mile 17 was 9:38. Mile 18 was not as tough as I would have thought, though my legs felt heavy and I was ready to stop. The burning sensation on my chest was becoming too much to handle.
That spot is huge.
I was lucky I hadn't been running past any large crowds because the stares would have turned into pointing at this rate. Instead, I was almost home and when I hit the stop button on The Garmin after Mile 18, I was able to slow to a walk and really assess the damage.
At home, I drew gasps from Mrs. LB and the girls.
Damn. I guess it was more noticeable than I thought.
Then I had Yvie take a picture.
At home, my initial reaction was that of disappointment. I was not happy about my 18-mile run, but rather embarrassed becuase of how I looked. I thought about for a while (and I'm going to have much more thoughts on this on Monday's post) but I think what bothered me the most was that I was unprepared and it showed. That and I looked like a fool.
But the run itself was great. I felt very strong, was not wiped out, was happy with how the GU worked, with how the Gatorade worked, with having run to Mt. Rubidoux from my house, with having finished in a little more than three hours, with a lot of things. But that one thing bothered me for a few hours afterward.
Still, it's all a learning experience, every run is. And while you'll have to wait for Monday's post for all of my feelings, I'm certain I'm going to overcome this and will be better because of it.
The shirt (and white undershirt) though might be a different story...