I’m still amazed at the many ways my body can surprise me. I think I know my body pretty well and then it does something it’s never done before. Over the weekend I ran the Ragnar Relay for the second time. This year we ran from Plymouth, MA to P-Town. The runs were easy and mostly flat. None of the legs were very long. I ran 6.5 miles, 6.1 miles and 3.9 for a grand total of 16.5 miles.
I didn’t prepare that well. I ran leading up to the race, but not intensely. And normally if I know I have a long run, I hydrate and eat really well the day before. I didn’t do that this time. I think I kept telling myself this was going to be a breeze—I only have to run 6.5 miles at any one stretch and I can get through that. I didn’t tell myself that over the course of a 24-hour period I’d be running more than half a marathon on less than 2-hours of sleep (in the Ragnar Relay you run through the night).
I don’t know if it was the lack of hydration, the Mexican food I’d pigged out on the night before, the lack of sleep or the cold weather that I hadn’t prepared for (all spring I’ve been training in pants, but for some reason I decided that if I went further north to run in would be 80-degrees and so I should only bring shorts), but I was hurting by mile .01.
That has never happened to me before. The race started. All of us took off and promptly ran in the wrong direction for about three seconds. And then the second I got on the right track and onto the pavement every muscle and tendon in my legs felt like they cramped. I didn’t think I was going to be able to do the race. Never has something like that happened before. I slowed down and took a few deep breaths and the cramps released, but for the rest of the run, my legs ached like they do after a half marathon. That discomfort continued on my second run. So the runs, which in my book should have been easy took a considerable amount of willpower to keep running. Everything from my ribs down felt sore.
Normally after a race, I’ll feel sore later that day or the next day. I don’t normally feel sore the entire race. For my last leg, I couldn’t even run normally. I looked like a 94-year-old cowboy trying to waddle down a bike path. It was pathetic.
After the race when I woke up the next morning, I was in minimal pain—going upstairs was fine; going down was a slight challenge. Typically this is the day I hurt the most.
It’s the human body. It has a tendency to react in ways we may not expect, even when we know our body really well. To mean it reveals fascinating information if we listen.