Saturday, March 10, 2007

Comedy of Errors

I knew before heading out for my long run this afternoon that it was a little wet outside. It'd rained the night before, then turned to a skiff of snow covering the ground by morning. I put off running for a couple hours to let the snow melt off and the temperature warm up a few degrees. By early afternoon, it looked to be a beautiful day... albeit a little moist.

All was well until I turned the corner onto a three-mile stretch of a gravel-covered farm road. Of all the routes I run regularly, this is by far my favorite three miles. As far as the eye can see are beautifully serene farming fields. During summer and fall, the fields alternate between the deep green of potato plants and the vibrant amber of grain and hay. On the western horizon looms a large mountain range and for the entire length of the road, I can gaze upon the charm of the rural scenery below. There have been times I've run this road at sunset and felt my spirit soar at the simple but glorious beauty of our earth.

But today it was just wet.

I'd at least had the foresight to wear my older, but not-quite-yet-retired pair of Asics, anticipating there might be a little water and dirt kicked up. And really, that's all it was the first two miles. I was inconvenienced by having to slow down quite a bit to pick my way through the puddles and find the most solid surface on which to run, but I was in good spirits and figured I'd just make the best of it. Then the final mile approached and things got ugly. As I found myself sludging through thick, sticky mud for half a mile-- the kind that instantly grips your shoe and sucks it down further the more you to try to move-- I pictured the classic "stomping grapes" episode of I Love Lucy. By the time I reached asphalt again, I had a thick layer of mud encasing both shoes. My carefree attitude turned into a grumbling one because I was only halfway into my run and now had to finish the rest carrying what felt like a couple extra pounds of weight in mud.

Grapes would have been a lot more fun.

It didn't take too long, however, for most of the mud to slough off, so I was back in good spirits again soon enough. But then I had to deal with small rocks kicking up into my shoes and being too stubborn to stop and take off my shoes to shake them out, I just put up with them for the rest of the way, occasionally wincing in pain when one of them tweaked my foot just right.

On another note, I experimented for the first time with a Clif Bar today for my energy boost instead of a GU gel. I'd carefully picked one out from the grocery store the day before-- crunchy peanut butter with organic oats and soybeans. As my taste buds seem to be ultra-sensitive when I'm running, I was mustering a lot of optimism that the bar would taste like the Peanut Butter Cup Perfection creation from Cold Stone Creamery instead of a peanut butter-flavored hunk of cardboard. Ultimately, I found it to be somewhere in the middle of the two taste-wise and felt like it did a decent job in delivering the energy punch I needed. All those organic oats made me thirsty, though, and I only had so much Gatorade. My lips smacked of dry mouth for the last three miles.

So, recapping: ten mud-sludging, rock-crunching, oat-chewing, lip-smacking miles today.

Lucy would have made all this look hilarious. I made it look ridiculous. Everyone's a comedian in their own special way.


Anonymous said...

BRAVO! WTG on the run. I'm sure 10 miles down while you're always thinking about your leg/ITB is quite a satisfying feeling! GG

Chad said...

I never get to run in mud in Phoenix :-(

I miss the splattering you get down the back of your shirt and shorts and the occasional clumps you find in your hair ;-) I probably only miss it because it's been so long since I experienced it - I bet one time would last me for 2 or 3 years.

Your route sounds fantastic - I'm terribly jealous with how you described the farmland, gravel road and mountains in the distance(at least when it's dry).

Elin said...

Well written article.