Sunday, October 16, 2016

Reflections on the Long Run

I've been working on building up my mileage again. Having suffered from plantar fasciitis for the past year, I took some time off and seriously reduced my mileage after I ran the Big Sur Marathon in April. While I can't say I'm 100% recovered, I'm pleased to report that my foot has remained mostly quiet since I've started running more again. I've become cautiously optimistic.

This morning I had a 12 mile run to do. I never formally train for a half marathon but I do work on upping my miles from my base and adding in some speed work to make sure I have enough endurance to go the distance. I woke up to thunderstorms and pouring rain. I was also feeling a little sluggish after indulging in an amazing pasta dish last night for dinner. The restaurant was very generous with its wine pours and I may have had more than I should.

So my motivation to complete this 12 mile run this morning was around zero. I laid in bed for a while and pondered the mysteries of life. Not really. I just did some mental gymnastics to convince myself that I needed to run. After a cup of coffee, I reluctantly filled my Tailwind bottle. I shared my itinerary with my husband, told him I'd be back in about 2 hours, and headed to the bike path.

Reflections on the Long Run



The temperature was 65 but the humidity was 90%. As I turned onto the frontage road, the wind hit me. It was drizzling and I questioned my sanity. I felt short of breath and looked at my Garmin, which had me running 8:55m/m. I had set a loose goal of around 9m/m for this run and I was surprised at how winded I felt. I considered the conditions and realized I was going to have to pace myself carefully.

It's so much tougher to run when it's humid, and even more so when it's hot and humid. This article on Runners Connect has a great chart to predict your effort when running in humid conditions, using dew point as a marker. According to the chart, with a dew point of 60-65, which is what it was this morning when I ran, I needed to make a 2-3% adjustment in my pace.

At mile 2, yes, MILE 2, I felt so crummy I wanted to quit. Although I didn't know the information about dew point at the time, I just couldn't push myself any harder and intuitively slowed down. I did some serious self-talk, berated myself for even considering quitting, and kept going.

There weren't many other people on the bike path--I probably passed a handful of walkers and runners. By mile 3, I actually started to feel like I was in a groove. My splits were really consistent, between 9-9:05m/m. This pleased me. It had to be the Tailwind. Yep, customer for life.

Since I felt better, I stopped thinking about my run and my mind wandered to the past week and the struggles I'm having at my job. I reflected on my situation and didn't really come up with any solutions. The idea of changing jobs isn't appealing to me--I don't think it would be any better anywhere else right now--and so the challenge for me is to figure out how to make it work. As I approached mile 4.5, where the portapotty is located, I smiled because I didn't have to stop!

Small victory. But as I ran, I kept wondering where the endocannabinoids were. Shouldn't I be feeling better by now? Stop thinking about work, I kept telling myself. I continued to sip my Tailwind. I try to take a big sip with every song, which works out pretty well. I plodded up the steep hill and had to stop at the top to catch my breath. Ugh to the humidity. At mile 5.25,  I came to the end of the bike path. I headed down the road to run in the forest preserve. Would creepy people be there today? Am I taking a risk by going there?

I needed to stop at the gas station to refill my water bottle. It was mile 5.5. As I approached the entrance, the attendant came out. "No water fountain!! No water fountain!!" he said to me. His accent was so heavy I had trouble understanding him. He repeated himself. I told him I had planned to buy a bottle of water. He apologized. He followed me into the store. I headed to the bathroom, which had a sign on the door "out of order". I looked at him and asked, "are you kidding me?" He made up some story about it not working correctly but told me I could use it. I could hear him outside the bathroom door, talking to me. What a tool. When I came out he was waiting for me. I asked him what his problem was. "People come in, they use the bathroom. They break it," he said. "Seriously?" I asked him. I grabbed a water bottle and told him there was no water on the trail. I told him what I thought of him and his customer service. Then I headed back outside, filled my Tailwind bottle, and resumed running. I was so angry at the way he treated me. I reminded myself to hold back on my pace.

Shake it off, I told myself. But after a week of unreasonable people in my clinic, this encounter struck a nerve. I headed into the forest preserve where I was awestruck by the canopy of color above my head. I had forgotten how much I love running here. A man came down the path with 2 little boys--they must have been twins. I couldn't help but smile. The path was covered with leaves. The anger I had felt a few minutes ago began to defuse.

This part of the route is a little more hilly than the bike path but I was surprised at how well my legs were holding up. All along, my splits had been really consistent, right around 9-9:05m/m. This pleased me. A real pick-me-upper came on my playlist--Earth Wind and Fire's September. It sure felt like September, running in a tank top! I passed a woman shuffling along, barely running at all, and came to the end of the forest preserve path. I crossed the busy intersection and headed on the final stretch towards home.

My legs felt really good at this point. I realized that I did a good job of pacing myself and that my fueling was perfect. I didn't need a potty stop. I was tired but I knew I could finish. At mile 11, I stopped to finally take a selfie for this post. I didn't want to stop earlier. I was afraid I'd lose my mojo to start up again. It felt good to catch my breath. I loved the reflection of the trees on the pond.

Reflections on the Long Run

I put it back into gear and on that final mile, reflected how important this run was for me. How much I love to run long and slow. How I pushed myself to head out the door and go. How I pushed past that negativity I felt at mile 2 and at the gas station. How well I ran in spite of the humidity. How I can do hard things.

I got to my driveway and pumped my fists high when I stopped. I looked at my Garmin and grinned when I realized that my final mile was also my fastest.

Yep. I got this.

How do you push yourself through a tough run? Do you muddle through or quit? Does the humidity kill your pace?

I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for their Weekly Wrap. I could have recapped my workouts but they weren't very exciting. The long run always has many moods--I wanted to capture them in this post. I'm also linking up with Angela and Ilka for their Sunday Fitness and Food linkup!



103 comments :

  1. So much can happen on a long run, yeah? Hey creepy gas station guy, back away from the door! Thanks for the September reference, I'll be humming that for a while now.

    My first run back in Hawaii is usually a struggle due to humidity, after that I start getting back in the groove.

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    1. The humidity was such a surprise for this time of year! I'm glad I found that article tho, because I feel much less wimpy knowing that it wasn't just me...

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  2. I have to say the humidity really helped em this morning....I had to adhere to an easy pace (10-10:15m/m) for the first eight miles of my half (after having already ran two miles..and was feeling ready to conquer the world). The humidity was dreadfully heavy, I was a complete saturated (and dripping...eeew) person when I finished. But the humidity helped me stay at my easy pace, and (amazingly) I was able to finish faster than I'd thought, with a negative split none the less. I'm just thankful the sun stayed hidden, or it would have been really miserable #glasshalffull ;-)

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    1. I guess I didn't think about the humidity helping me but yes, I was forced to hold back on my pace and that turned out to be a good thing. I need to think about that at my half in December. I was glad it wasn't warmer. This one was a tough one. I"m so glad I did it.

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  3. OMG...that guy was such a tool! I will never understand why people are so obnoxious for no reason at all.

    For me, music helps on a hard run when I want to give up. Sometimes the right song can totally change my mood on a run!

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    1. That is so true about the music! I originally was going to write this post using my songs as mile markers but I couldn't make it work. There are so many good songs on my playlist!

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  4. Humidity kills me. Expect a really slow half from me in FL! You gals could be very happy by the time I finish . . . Or forgotten me altogether. :) I was thankful that while hot here, it's a dry heat -- which didn't really seem to make a difference to me the last couple miles.

    I almost never bail - I gotta be trained or it's painful.

    Glad the second half of your run turned out well! Really, it sounds like I was almost all good.

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    1. You're going to be surprised at how slow I run in Florida.

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  5. The humidity definitely affects my pace. I also find that when I do a long run my mind starts to wonder a few miles in. Sounds like you are ready for your half-marathon!

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    1. Yep, this one felt good. I may squeeze in a local half before I go to Florida in December.

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  6. Oh no, don't get me started on the humidity. Our dew point during the summer? 73 or more! Ghastly. I'm freaked out by the gas station guy hanging around outside the bathroom door. I'm so happy your PF is under control. I think you'll smoke the half in FL and I'll be there to witness it! Thanks for linking, Wendy!

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    1. That gas station guy was so annoying. Following me all over the store. It was so wrong in so many ways. Dude, I'm a 54 year old woman runner. Not going to do anything bad here.

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  7. Sounds like a great run! And that guy sounds like an absolute jerk!

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  8. Congratulations and way to push through on that 12-miler despite all the challenges! Every morning when I wake up to face a long run, I ponder the mysteries of life. =) Sorry that you had the encounter with that gas station attendant, he sounds really creepy. Good for you for not letting it get to you in the end. There is no better feeling than finishing up a long run on a solid final speedy mile!!!

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    1. It was more mentally challenging than anything! It's been a long time since I did a long run like this. I feel ready to tackle anything now.

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  9. Humidity definitely slows me down. I will never understand how some people can control their pace down to the second. I only know run normal or kick it in high gear..lol. And even then it's a crapshoot as to what my pace may be.

    So, isn't this gas station you describe the same one that you said you weren't going to visit anymore? I hate when people have to be rude to customers.

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    1. It's too bad this gas station is the only place around where I can get water. It used to be really decent. But it seems like they have new owners. I'll need a new plan...

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  10. Good job getting it done! If I have a few drinks it really slows me down.
    I feel like the one thing I am expert on is dew point and how it impacts my body. Our dew point hovered all summer at 75 and I struggled, mentally I just felt so worn down after 5 months of it. I was running almost 12 minute miles to be comfortable, it is like physical wight on me. It is odd to me how much it impacts me compared to others, but I don't like to be sick so I went slow.
    What I have not figured out is how to recover my pace and how long in decent temps it will take...it does not just magically come back and sadly it is getting hot here again this week.

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    1. I have no answers about pace--altho I will say that my faster pace comes back nicely when the temps drop. My body seems to automatically adjust.

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  11. I love this! Your "fist pumping" in your driveway brought an image to my mind....Rocky Balboa at the top of the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art! :) The gas station attendant...RUDE! Tailwind....I must try this! The nature preserve...I have that exact same thought when I venture off into our trails alone, but they are so beautiful and inspiring! Glad to know your plantar is behaving!

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    1. I wish I could say my fist pumping was as dramatic as Rocky's but it was just an instinctual response to finishing a tough run!

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  12. The humidity killed my pace this summer and I am trying to bounce back. So glad to hear your foot is behaving!

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    1. It's talking to me this morning...but I'm trying to calm it down...

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  13. Wow you go girl! Way to power through! I'm with you that getting angry makes me speed up :) Awesome job killing that 12 miles. The way I've been getting through long runs lately is either by trying to solve work problems or by trying to get lost in my music and sing/dance it out while I run. Just trying to make it fun!

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    1. I want it to be fun--all this work stuff is killing my mojo!

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  14. I haven't run a 12 miler in a while! They are tough! I hope you don't have to patronize that store again- what a turd! You nailed as always and with a sweet fast mile at the end! :)

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    1. I will only have to go there if I need to stop on my way to the forest preserve. Unless I can figure out a different plan to get water.

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  15. Oh my gosh, yes, humidity can be soul-sucking. As can a-holes, but he probably does have to put up with a lot from "customers" who want to drink from his water fountain and pee in his toilets. ;-) I hope this week bring cool temperatures and cooler heads at work.

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  16. My mind wanders all over during a race of a long run. The gas station guy sounds like he's got some pent up frustrations! :)

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    1. Idk--I think he's just worried about us runners trashing his store!

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  17. Glad to hear your foot is quiet! Congrats on a great long run! What a crazy gas station attendant!

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  18. good job pushing through, long runs can be so tough. My post this week is about mine which was Saturday... and everything I did to keep my mind occupied because long runs can be boring. But I love the sense of accomplishment afterwards....

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  19. I'm totally the person who blows up gas station bathrooms during a run or a car trip. :) That man was mad at people like ME hahaa!

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    1. Oh, so you're the one who ruined it for the rest of us? :p

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  20. I like to think it was the twins that turned everything around for you :-) Way to tough it out and seriously...what the hell is wrong with people???

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    1. I'm pretty sure those twins made the world right for me again. Isn't it crazy that I saw them right after that? Clearly I needed an intervention. Coupled with the beauty of the fall leaves lining that path, it couldn't have been better.

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  21. Loved reading your post. Yesterday I had to quit my long run in the early evening because it was still super humid in my area, even though the temperatures have dropped a little. It was the first time in a long time I had to quit a long run in Mile 2. Between the humidity and me not feeling great because of a lingering cold, my body just wasn't having it. As a runner that's so frustrating... Good for you for pushing through! Have a great training week Wendy!

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    1. I kept thinking about all you Floridians on this run--that humidity is such a confidence suck. Of course, running in those conditions and finishing strong is all the sweeter!

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  22. Good job pushing through. I usually will just slog through it--part of the reason for out and backs--you have to get back home!

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    1. This could have been an out and back but I made it a loop on purpose! Plus I didn't want to re-run the bike path. The forest preserve, as iffy as it can be, is just lovely.

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  23. Great job on your run...it's always tough when you're not feeling the run from the beginning...usually after a little while I get in the zone and forget all my problems! That gas station guy was a total jerk! Sorry you went through that.

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    1. It was a little weird but luckily I didn't dwell on it for too long!

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  24. Humidity zaps me every time too. Congrats for sticking with it strong! And people are weird... no doubt about it.

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    1. Yep. That seems to be the theme lately!

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  25. I have such a hard time with humidity, even when it's cool. It triggers my exercise induced asthma if I'm not careful. Nice job getting it done. I need to get my mileage up too.

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    1. I figured that with the cooler temps, no big deal! I was glad to find that article to justify my struggle...

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  26. Humidity is not my friend and I am a horrible training runner. I usually just sign up for a race and then tack on some miles.

    Luckily I do run better in a race.

    But as I've said, your slow will be my fast.

    Just wait for me before you get those margaritas in Dec!!

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    1. Haha! You know I'm going to struggle in the Florida humidity!

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  27. Oooh I love that EWF song! Glad the run was good for you despite the humidity.

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    1. Every once in awhile, I slip something fun on the playlist!

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  28. Yes to the humidity adjustment - now, if I could only REMEMBER that while I'm running instead of mentally kicking myself for sucking so badly.

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    1. I never knew it meant something in cool humid conditions, but there you go.

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  29. Ugh, sorry for the mean gas station dude...that is the worst. All you wanted was some darn water. I had to do a lot of self talk last year with my long runs, so I totally get it. Way to get it done.

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  30. Any fast-food places along your route? There's a McDonald's about 8 or 9 miles into my long run route. I stop and fill my water at the drink fountain regularly and sometimes use the bathroom. No one has ever noticed or said a thing but I am well prepared with my response. 3 boys now in their 20s...trust me...McDonald's can throw some free water my way every now and then!

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    1. No fast food places on this route! It's mostly trail, so this gas station is it. There used to be different owners. Maybe they were too nice!

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  31. You know your not going to get any disagreement from me on it being tougher to run in humid conditions. Your run conditions is the reason so many choose not to run in the summer.
    What a crappy attendant! That was so uncalled for! I'm glad it didn't affect your run long. I'm tickled to hear your PF is quiet! I hope it stays in hibernation!

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  32. This was a cool post. I felt like I was right there along with you while I read it but I promise if I was, then in real life I would have given that gas station attendant a knuckle sandwich. If I had to use a public bathroom, it means that diarrhea is coming out. So if someone told me that I wasn't allowed to use their toilet, then I'd have to use their floor.

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    1. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. And I'm not prone to violence but I did give him my version of a verbal knuckle sandwich. I sanitized it for this post.

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  33. Humidity always takes the life out of my workouts. Sorry you had such a creep for a gas station attendant!! Some people are just total jerks.

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    1. I'm just glad I was able to shake it off!

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  34. Unfortunately, sometimes my mind gets the best of my body and I sometimes stop running, but walk it until I gain some power back to push through a little longer. I'm glad you pushed through!

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  35. I'm sorry you had a rough week at work! But I hope the running helped! A couple of years ago, when I started running, any time that anybody would make me mad I would sing up for a 5K, and that kept me going until the race day... funny how that works!

    HOw rude of the gas station attendant ! I can understand that people use the bathrooms, and things get broken, but to deny people such a basic need!

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    1. I'm glad I have running to rid myself of the stress!

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  36. I've been riding my bike all summer and I love it, but don't do great in the humidity or heat (or when it's very cold, for that matter! lol). I pretty much limited myself to doing it at/before sunrise. Which, here in NC, is still pretty darn humid! :D

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    1. This time of year, we don't expect much in the way of humidity. I'm pretty much over it.

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  37. Way to go!! And booo to the gas station guy - what a jerk!

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  38. Wow, what a long run that was for you! Ugh, for sure I will not miss those anymore (anything longer than 10 miles is a long run for me). Refresh my memory but which half marathon are you training for?

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  39. Well Wendy I certainly quit ( walked and jogged ) the 9.5 mile trail race in Groton, Ma this Sunday. When I researched the race it said that they were giving out prizes going 1, 2 in each division so I thought I had a chance in a relatively small race. Problem is the prize was alcohol. There were bottles every where. I don't like running a race that is brainwashed by the alcohol industry who delights in profiting off foolish runners who think because that they are in such great shape alcohol won't hurt them. 9.5 hard miles for alcohol. Is this some kind of sick joke??? C'mon, serious.

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    1. Sounds like you need to do more research before signing up. Was the alcohol a prize? I don't mind a beer at the finish.

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  40. Correction, not "foolish" runners. More like ignorant brainwashed runners. Very true. Sorry for the negativity.

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    1. No Wendy. You drink wine once in a while. Your fine. Geez.

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  41. Way to go on you run! Humidity sucks and that is something I do not miss when I used to live in Jersey. So glad that your foot is cooperating!

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    1. I wouldn't mind no humidity! Crazy to have it this time of year.

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  42. Good to hear that your foot has quieted down when you've been upping your mileage! That convenience store guy would have really irritated me too. Good job holding back on your pace after that.

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    1. I was grateful for the beautiful scenery and the twins in the forest preserve. All my irritation just melted away!

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  43. Nice job! What a great run and so happy your foot finally calmed down. I am SLOWLY coming back from a touch of peroneal tendonitis and just need to quit thinking about it so much. Do you ever feel like it's your brain that has the hardest time after an injury because it is so used to telling you that you have pain and even when you don't you "feel" like maybe you do?!? Or is this just me and my craziness?

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    1. Not crazy at all. But I'm having a few twinges here and there in my arch...is it real? Or is it my imagination?

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    2. I think our minds get so used to telling us there is pain in that area it's hard to turn that off. I want to trust what my body is saying but it's hard when you feel a sensation in your foot but when you touch it, it's not sore at all....

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  44. Great work pushing through!

    I feel like I am always running in humidity, but I never get used to it. I think hot and humid is preferable to cold and humid - I can never regulate my body temperature properly in the latter.

    Sorry you had a frustrating week. Sometimes, a solid run is the best way to shake it all off and get back to right.

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  45. Kudos to you for pushing through. Those mental battles are tough, and when the weather is dreary it makes it that much more difficult to get out the door. But you did it. Way to go!

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    1. Yep! As I like to say finishing is winning!

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  46. That dude at the gas station? Seriously?! Anyway, congrats on completing your long run with the last mile being the fastest! Nice. :)

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  47. Ugh humidity. It was the bane of my summer but I mostly managed to deal with it. Now it just makes me mad because it's supposed to be fall! :) Nice run!

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    1. I think fall is finally here...it's pretty cool out this morning and there are a lot of leaves on the ground.

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  48. Way to go! I've had that type of long run the past 2 weeks now. Today was bad(ish)...I only got into the groove by mile 7 out of 11 lol. But way to finish!
    PS - today was 85 for my long run...where's fall??

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    1. I could see 85F being a deal breaker! Great job getting 11 in!

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