Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cowtown Long Run

1 hour 46 mins
(~14-14.5 miles)

Yup, the inevitable finally happened. I'm sick.

In hindsight, this is an ineluctable conclusion to the past few weeks of crazy travel, crazy work hours, a lot of running, a lot of free alcohol and not a lot of sleep. As early as last Sunday afternoon, I came to the realization that it was not a question of if I would get sick, b
ut rather when. In that respect I suppose it's a miracle that I didn't feel the first tell-tale scratchiness of the throat until Friday afternoon, when Jordan and I bid Austin adieu and set off in our rental car toward Dallas. Jordan had already begun feeling badly the day before, which further solidified the guarantee that I too would shortly begin experiencing symptoms.

For the most part, this slowly gathering storm of snot and sniffles hasn't hindered my enjoyment of the weekend. We've still been able to spend some quality time with friends, enjoy our runs and even take in a bit of shopping. But my burgeoning cold finally hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday morning, right smack dab in the middle of what was supposed to be an e
asy long run in Ft. Worth. Let's just say it did not end well for poor little me.

The first hour of the run was great. I'd reserved Jordan and I a room at a hotel where my parents always used to stay when they came to visit me at TCU, just a few steps from the Trinity River trail system that I know and love. Knowing Jordan prefers loop courses to mundane out-and-backs, I'd mentally devised what I thought was a pretty nice route for our run today. It started out with a few westward miles on the trail before crossing over a low water crossing, then continued on a trail/bike path through the shaded Overton Park neighborhoods. After dead-ending at the end of the park, we turned left to head uphill toward the TCU campus. This was the part of the run I was most anticipating, as I was eager to see all the construction and renovations that have taken place in the years since I attended. Turns out that when your football team goes from average to national class, funding seems to materialize out of nowhere. Sure enough, as Jordan and I jogged up throug
h the campus, I hardly recognized any of the buildings--including my own freshman dorm--that had once been as familiar as the back of my hand. Once clear of campus we popped out on University Drive, which commenced a long downhill back to the river trail. At this point we were just over an hour into the run and I was feeling great, despite the warm (70+ degree) weather and excessive (30+ mph) wind. I had no idea how drastically that was about to change.

TCU's Frog Fountain at night: one of the few remaining
constants from my tenure there

I felt the first inkling of my sudden implosion when Jordan suggested that I do a series of one-minute pickups. This is something that he and Jeff have been incorporating into his long runs for a while, and it worked out splendidly for me when I tried it for the first time in San Diego this summer. After the first few segments today, however, I could tell I was struggling. It wasn't so much my legs, though they were beginning to feel fatigued, but my breathing felt shallow, hoarse, panicky. The wind was at our backs at this point, which should've made me feel better, but instead it only filled me with impending dread. If I felt this poorly going into the wind, how much of a death march would the final miles of the run be once we turned around? A few minutes later I voiced my concern to Jordan, who questioned whether we should pull the plug immediately. Instead, I suggested we keep going another half mile or so, as I was growing increasingly thirsty and knew where a water fountain was located. We soldiered on, finishing off one last pickup (our fifth?) before reaching the fountain.

Once we turned around, it was every bit as bad as I'd imagined. Even though I tried to tuck in and draft behind Jordan, sudden gusts of wind reduced me practically to a standstill. I swear my cheeks even started flapping at one point. I could tell I was slowing Jordan down and didn't want to drag him into the morass of my misery, so I gave him permission to go ahead while I slogged through the last few miles. I was defeated, dehydrated, demoralized. Moreover, I was mystified. How was it possible for a run to go from great to abysmal in such a short span of time? We'd planned to run a solid two hours, but clearly I would fall well short of that. Now I know that it can be attributed to one part wind, one part dehydration and about five parts sickness. As the day progressed I proceeded to feel worse and worse, ultimately reduced to eating soup from Panera for dinner and passing out at 9:30 while watching the American Music Awards. People, did you hear that?? I was watching the American Music Awards. That's when you know that things just aren't right in my world. Someone please put me out of my misery.