First things first: tonight I noticed that somebody came to my blog by googling “how can i poop faster.” I immediately became distressed, realizing that I’ve only mentioned that I sometimes poop, and not any actual advice on how to do it, or specifically, how to do it faster. So for that person I advise, poop smarter, not harder. And take laxatives.
For those of you who already know how to poop fast, here’s what I really want to tell you about tonight: the worst run I have ever done – that I can remember. The remembering part is an important part to note, because I did this run three times, and each time was convinced that I only repeated it because I forgot how terrible it was the last time (I’ve also heard that this is the only reason women have babies more than once – their brains force them to forget the pain of childbirth). By this logic, there could be many much worse runs that I have completely blacked out (and maybe even babies!). I cannot tell you about these hypothetical runs however, so I’ll stick to this one.
The set up for this terrible, awful run, is flying to the big island of Hawaii, and enjoying a wonderful and leisurely vacation. While I was there, I stayed on a farm on a steep road, almost five miles up from the nearest beach, and about a half mile down from the main road that loops around the island. The first few runs I did in Hawaii involved running up to the main road, which started out with a half mile incline, but then was pretty nice. These runs were great. I should have stuck to running in that direction. Instead, I was convinced that getting a ride down to the bottom of the hill and running back up to the farm would be a great workout.
The first two times I did the hill, it actually went relatively okay. The first time I got dropped a mile into the run, which made it shorter, but the first mile is actually more rolling hills than straight up, so the warm-up might be worth the extra distance. The second time, it was fairly cloudy and cool. Both of these times ended in a lot of walking and gasping for breath, but the decreased distance or cooler weather made the run much more enjoyable than the last time.
The third run up the hill was done later in the day than any other hill attempt. About ten in the morning, on a particularly warm day. Feeling as though I had mastered the hill by this time, I again started as far away as possible, and set the lofty goal of running 3.5 miles before doing any walking (the first and shorter day I made it 2, and the next day I made it 3, so each of these days I made it to about the same point before walking). I also remembered to set my Nike+ app to give me half mile notifications, instead of at every whole mile. When it takes me more than 12 minutes to run a mile, I need more distance notifications to reassure myself that I am actually moving a little bit.
The first mile was okay, but pretty hot. The next half mile was pretty hard. The next half mile was terrible. This brings us to two miles, and the point that I knew there was no way I was making it to 3.5 without walking, so I brought that goal down to 3. The next half mile was even more terrible than the last, and I had no choice but to walk. There have been many times in my running adventures where I really want to walk, but if I do start to walk I get bored of how much longer it takes, and find myself running again after about ten seconds. As much as I wanted the run to be over as soon as possible, in this case the option of running was quickly diminishing. I kept telling myself that I would run for the next three minutes and then walk, but in less than half the time I would find myself walking again. Then I started shortening my goals – two more telephone poles, then I could walk. Then I gave up running entirely and submitted myself to walking the rest of the hill, even stopping entirely on occasion to rest in the rare spots of shade.
During all of this time I spent walking, my thoughts alternated between “this is the most terrible run I have ever done,” and “this must be how that runner girl who died in the Grand Canyon felt.” When I got back to Portland I read more about “that runner girl,” who I knew almost nothing about, and learned that her name was Margaret Bradley, she was an excellent marathon runner, and died during a very long run/trek through the Grand Canyon in 2004. There are several glaring differences between my 5 miler up a hill and her 27 mile venture through the Grand Canyon (80 degrees versus 120 degrees, relatively available water sources versus 2 water-bottles for a GC journey, a populated area versus complete isolation…). Clearly my very terrible run is no comparison at all to Bradley’s, but it was a good reminder that I should continue to take better care of myself on runs by preparing myself more and paying attention to my limits.
Every time I did this run, I started out with a more advanced running buddy who, upon finishing the run himself, would grab a water-bottle and come back to meet me mid-run, and quench my thirst. The first two times this worked out great, but the third time I felt completely dehydrated long before he arrived. Just a bit past mile three I came up to an estate sale, and was just about to go inside and ask for water, when Running Buddy came running down the hill to me and saved me from a potentially awkward experience. Of course I was ecstatic to see him, but I kind of wish I had gotten to see how people reacted when a complete stranger, dripping with sweat and about to fall over from exhaustion, stumbled into their house asking for water. In fact, every person I saw driving up the hill inspired me to wonder how they would react in response to a request for a ride, or how pathetic I would have to look before someone pulled over and offered me help. Because I felt pathetic enough to be deserving of a help-offer, yet nobody was concerned enough to give one. I suppose wearing running clothes and headphones made me look too much like I was climbing the hill willingly. I was not, it was just my only way to get away from the hill and end the terribleness (obviously I started the run in a willing state of mind, but this soon morphed into a very unwilling and unhappy disposition).
I couldn’t even run to the top of the hill when I started a mile late, or when there was cooler weather, so I don’t know why I thought I could run farther than ever when it was super hot and I started at the beginning. But when my running buddy says that he’s going to do a run, I get the idea in my head that I have to do it too. This is a dangerous attitude, especially when it involves extremely difficult runs in weather I’m not accustomed to. I also try not to really think about difficult runs before I do them, because that gives me less of a chance to back out of them. I plan on waiting until I’m doing the run to worry about how hard it is, because then I can’t back out, but I really should be planning ahead more if I’m going to do a run that hard.
These are important things for every runner to consider, but learning lessons can be boring, so I’ll stop talking about them and finish with some pictures instead.
Here’s one I took the day I got dropped off a mile into the run, so I had a chance to get into the hill a bit before my running buddy and take a picture of him. This picture really only shows the flat-ish part of the run.
Here’s the Nike+ report of the third time I did this run. The second time I did it, my phone somehow deleted the run, and I’m still unreasonably angry about it. Note the elevation increase.