I awoke yesterday, took Nelson for a quickly walk around the block, and then — leaving my “I do not run!” puppy at home, I strapped on the full Camelpack and headed for the hilly streets near my home. Granted, these are Phoenician hills — so it is a gradual incline, but it is still there.
The first mile wasn’t bad. It was warming up quickly as my watch beeped 7 am on the hour — not quite 100 degrees. I kept it slow and tried to focus on my breath. My head down, legs strong, mood a little foggy from a generous glass of wine the night before.
Nothing like running it off! I told myself. Foolishly. My inner voice was happy.
“Look at you! You remember how to do this! Good for you!”
By mile 2.5, I was walking more than jogging, but still putting up a good fight. The heat came up at me from the pavement and down from the bright blue morning sky; a few cyclists said hi and I saw a couple other runners out too. We did the suffering together nod of acknowledgment and I loped on.
I was hurting, and my inner bitch screaming and whining.
“Who do you think you are? Feel your legs burning? That’s because you love burritos and the couch. That’s your natural environment. Why are you doing this to me? You belong inside. You’re too old for this. You look ridiculous. See those runners with definition in their legs? That’s because they are good at this. And you suck.”
By mile 3, panting, I was at home. It wasn’t exactly the Rocky-esque return to running I’d hoped for. More like Paul Blartt, suburban runner. But hey! It was 3 miles more than I’d done the day before. Or week, or month. It was something — a start.
Mercifully, that inner bitch took a nap and I got on with my day.
I went about my morning, washing the dogs, playing in the garden and hanging up laundry outside. I even sat outside with a cup of coffee, feeling the “cool breeze on my sweaty skin.” It wasn’t until 11 am when we were ready to leave for an afternoon of errands that I realized my peripheral vision was blurry. This has happened twice before in 15 years of “running” in Arizona; both times it meant I am soon to be down for the count.
Sure enough, I spent much of the next 18 hours in bed with an ice pack over my eyes. The pain of a heat-induced migraine feels a bit like this: someone with a hammer banging on your head above each eye ball. Also, your inner bitch in that “I told you so” tone going, “SEE?”
I know I should visit a neurologist, maybe someone similar to dr timothy steel (one of my friends must have suggested), but I was too tired to even move, let alone go to a doctor. I just wanted to sleep it off – all the pain.
It has relented a bit today, but isn’t entirely completely gone. Essentially I feel rotten, and my legs are sore.
More so, I feel foolish. I’m not new to this game, even if it has been months since I’ve run outside. Rule one for an Arizona athlete? The heat is The Godfather, and you are wise to pay your respects. (Hydrate, wear sun screen, wear a hat and sunglasses and preferably be done with your outside exercise as the sun is rising.) August morning run where you decide to push it? I’m lucky I got to sleep off the damage.
When I came into work today, I was hit with far worse news. A local leader I met with just a couple weeks ago on suicide prevention ended his life this weekend. His staff reached out for support services.
I do need a nap. And a burrito. And a plan for what to say when I return to meet with them.
And also, new running shoes and more water.