Betsy and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run
"It's 100% easier not to do things than to do them."
- John Mulaney
Sometimes... running sucks. Sometimes the alarm goes off in the morning and you want to simply crawl back under the covers and keep sleeping, long run be damned. Sometimes, as was the case with me on Friday, you're out running, doing the thing, and it's hard, but you persevere, and then, on your way back home from running some trail hill/stairs, you forget to pick up your feet like an un-tired person and you end up tripping over a root. Now you've tumbled to the earth, ripped your favorite running tights, bloodied up your thigh/hip and hands, embarrassed yourself in front of all those post-work labradoodle-walking hipsters, and really, really want to cry.
So yeah, by the time the wake-up call came this morning for my 8-mile trail run, my hips creaked like the stairwell in a haunted house and I wanted nothing more than to enjoy my bougie sheets a little bit longer. But, like the dutiful athlete that I am, I pulled myself out of bed for my weekly long run. I had grand plans to run a route in Rock Creek that simulated the elevation gain I will be facing for the April Arizona Trail Half I am training for. Looked like a lovely trail, with great reviews, and the sun was shining with blue bird skies. Then I took a look at my hip, which was reminiscent of the famous scene from A League of Their Own when Alice slides into third base and they photograph her bruised leg. (Actually, upon reflection as a former softball player, the tumble I took on Friday was not unlike a slide into home; except in my case it was a slide into a tree and there was no home run to speak of.)
I battled in my brain, with good ol' Gretch. If I don't run the amount I should do today, I'm going to be behind in my training plan. If I'm behind in my training plan then I'll be behind forever and I'll probably never be able to finish a race ever again and I'll go bankrupt and lose all my friends and life is the worst. You know how it goes - from zero to catastrophe in t-minus 60. Of course on the other hand, if I make this injury worse, then I'll have to stop running altogether for the rest of my life and then where will I be?!@! Very logical musings at 7 am on Sunday.
I took a breath. I remembered something I heard from a political speaker once (Seattle Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw), who was recounting how women, who always have to be absolutely perfect, hold ourselves down when we "should" on ourselves and each other. Telling ourselves we "should" do x, y, z or Janet from accounting shoulda done a, b, and c. Should has no place in our worlds. I've never forgotten her catchphrase of the day: "Don't should on me, I won't should on you."
I'm not mentioning that last week was also perhaps one of the craziest and most intense of my life. I'm talking a week that basically has now defined my DC career as I know it and took literally everything I had in me. That whole women-must-be-perfect-at-everything-we-do meant I was in knots trying to be the best. My apartment looked like a CSI unit; I ate take-out for days (because I didn't have the time or wherewithal to cook); I drank far too much coffee and far too little water; and just ask my smart watch how worried it was about the sleep I was (not) getting. Ultimately I nailed the day - the big argument on Thursday - but my sympathetic nervous system was in overdrive chaos. Hence, the fated fall during Friday's hill workout.
What was I doing? Shoulding myself to oblivion, in life and in running. Who says I have to run 8 miles? Shane, sure, but he's also going to tell me not push my body past its limits, especially if those limits are related to pain. So I modified; decided to go with a shorter, tried-and-true route I knew well to shake out my legs, still get some mileage in, some elevation in, but nothing too crazy or difficult.
I'd love to tell you that my conscientious decision, made in a moment of clear-headedness amidst a sea of illogical babble, led to only the best. The reality is my morning and my run still sucked. My car's check-oil light came on while I was driving to the trailhead. I forgot to bring my earphones, so I was forced to listen only to my own grumblings the whole time. I definitely was still not hydrated. I walked a LOT. I almost tripped a second time, but luckily caught myself before tumbling to the earth. I cursed myself for once again not picking up my feet enough. I almost accidentally kicked a small dog who came out of nowhere running at me (not my fault, put your dogs on a leash, people!). By the time I hit the end of the 6-mile loop, I just stopped. I didn't walk it off. I didn't stretch like I "should" have. I didn't run 8 miles like I "should" have. I didn't hit the elevation I "should" have. I got in my car and I drove home, grateful the damn run was over.
It's not always pretty. It's not always fun. And somedays it's a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run and you want to move to Australia. In the (paraphrased) words of John Mulaney: it's far easier to not do things than to do them. So it sucked, but hey, I did the thing.