Running X-Country

>> Friday, July 5, 2013

Hope everyone had a great holiday! Ours was packed with activity, food, and fun. And it all started with a morning run of Stephen's high school cross-country course in NJ.

It's been a long time since I've run on grass versus roads -- so, to say this course was incredibly challenging for me is an understatement. We started after 10AM (dumb!) with the temps already in the mid-80s and the humidity at 95%.  To complicate things, it's been raining a lot in our region -- so the ground was saturated, muddy -- and extremely steamy with the sun's rays.

I think you can see where this is going.

The plan was to run the 5K course twice (for me) and 3x (for Stephen). The first loop, we'd do together so I wouldn't get lost. If you've never run a cross-country course around a high school before -- basically it zigzags irregularly around the grounds and woods surrounding. At Stephen's school, there were markers, but nothing is numbered -- so it was easy to get confused. Even Stephen forgot some twists and turns.

The first mile was alright. We finished in 8:10 . . . but the humidity was oppressive. I'm sure that's a relative statement, but for this Northern girl . . . I have little tolerance. This was WAY beyond even my most extreme capacity for heat. Thankfully the second mile dipped into lightly shaded trails, so we got some respite, although an incline to boot.

Soon after that, we found ourselves in this gigantic cornfield. And this is where I had a mini-panic attack. Not really. Sort of? Well, we ran down, down, down the field and I knew it was humid, but because we were zooming with little effort it was OK. Then we had to go back up the incline again. The sun had been covered by the clouds but was swiftly revealed again as soon as we hit the uphill, and -- all of a sudden -- I couldn't breathe.

I told Stephen I had to stop . . . I tried getting a breath, but felt completely trapped and suffocated by the thick air. I think my lungs are still recovering from my chest cold a couple weeks ago, so that could be part of it. But whatever it was, I spent 30 seconds frantically trying to get a good inhale. Eventually I calmed down, some breeze hit me, and we decided to keep going.

After the first loop, I just didn't want to do it again. So, I rested under a tree for 5 minutes or so. Drank some water, too. Stephen went off to finish his run on the roads (he wasn't feeling it either, plus the mud was tricky to maneuver). I ran to the track to do a few drama-free loops + eventually headed back to the shaded part of the trail and finished up my other 5K.

I definitely was running 1-2 minutes slower than my usual pace -- it was a little shocking to see on my watch. But in the heat, you do what you can, right?

Yup. It was an up and down sort of run. I'm sure you've had them. I guess even the most dedicated and semi-"hardcore" runners can freak out and have a massively bad day. Still, it was really fun to see where Stephen raced so many times when he started his running career.

Let's go back in the fall, shall we?

Did you sweat to celebrate the Fourth? I'm thinking a lot of you ran races! Tell me about them!

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