Victory, of Sorts

After owning defeat during The 10 Miler That Wasn't, I was determined to knock this long run out. There's only 3 weeks and a few days before the San Jose Rock & Roll Marathon, and I have to get the miles in. I've missed a total of about 4 runs in the training plan, which is not the worst thing in the world, but 2 of those were long runs. That's bad. So I strapped on the Asics and hit the ground running. Again.

I'd love to be able to say that it was a fantastic run; that the scenery whipped by; that I rocked it out Prefontaine-style with a 70s-style mustache flailing in the wind; that it was a breeze and barely broke a sweat.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

The first 3 miles or so were all about deciding if the feeling in my lower legs was just pain or the beginnings of an injury. Deciding it was just a little stiffness, I soldiered on. Eventually things loosened up adequately and I hit a nice rhythm.

Like yesterday's Run of Shame (in which I crap out at 3.5 miles and hop in a cab, the cab driver courteously ignoring my sweaty shirt and the crazy look in my eye), I set off down to the Marina and then east toward downtown San Francisco. My goal was to find the sneaky pete way to Fisherman's Wharf that doesn't require me to run on streets or take as many hills as I did yesterday.

I was successful in that regard—there's a little path that cuts over through the park by Fort Mason and dumps you onto MacDowell Avenue, which connects nicely to the Embarcadero and Fisherman's Wharf. Sweet.

I hit a lot of SF highlights: running through Fisherman's Wharf (dodging tourists who are busy stimulating the economy and being duped by tourist trap establishments), along the the Embarcadero, under the Bay Bridge, etc. My turnaround point was AT&T Park (pictured above). I felt very proud to touch the wall and turn back, even though I had by then been passed by every running club that was on the same route as I was.

The sun had set in the course of my run, and, like the surface of the planet Mercury, the temperature dipped 5000°. Unfortunately, after mile 6, so did my spirits. I felt somewhat worn and defeated. Back to the old lack-of-mental-toughness thing. I started taking short walk breaks, which accounts for the dip in my Nike+ chart yonder, as well as the slow split times. Even with the walks I guess I averaged a little under 12 minute miles, which isn't the absolute worst thing in the world. (The Worst Thing in the World—for those keeping score at home—is lack of separation between church and state, but that's a whole other discussion...)

I finally picked up the pace heading back through Fort Mason for 4 reasons:
  1. I wanted to at least finish strong-ish
  2. I wanted to stay warm
  3. I wanted to avoid getting stabbed in the neck by some weirdo crackhead park dweller
  4. I wanted to dodge all the skunks that were out prowling

Yes, San Francisco has skunks. I've smelled them around the neighborhood but hadn't seen them—waddling around, backside pointed at my head—until tonight. Now, I love skunks; they're cool little woodland creatures, and their smell reminds me of summers as a kid. But the last thing I want is to get sprayed by one when I'm out on a run.

About a quarter mile away from my goal of 10 I conceded to "defeat". I was done, cold, and ready for some Vitamin Water. Not the best run in the world, but also not the worst. I ran (with some walk breaks) about 10 miles in about 2 hours. I'm confident that I can rally on race day, cut out the walks and finish the additional few miles without being thrown off the course. And that, in and of itself, will be a victory, of sorts.

Pics courtesy of Pargon and Charles and Clint on Flickr.

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