Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sock Emergencies, Thunder, and Marathons, oh my!

I should've known, when I was changing into my running gear yesterday and realized I had forgotten to pack socks in my gym bag, that my run was not going to go according to plan.

The plan was to arrive at Bradley Park early so that I could do my FAST workout before the predicted thunderstorms rolled in to town. Coach Brad had emailed me the workout, so I knew what I had to do (4 x 1 mi @ 10k pace, with 2 mi warm-up and 2 mi cool-down). I figured if I started 45 minutes early, I would be able to finish my 8 miles with time to spare before the weather turned nasty.

I figured wrong.

When I realized I had forgotten my beloved toe socks, I had a minor panic attack. Fortunately, I do keep a spare pair of regular socks in my bag, but they are cheap and less-than-ideal. They would be okay for maybe 4 miles, but they just wouldn't cut it for my planned 8 miles - they were blisters waiting to happen. Fortunately, I was just a few blocks away from the local running store, so I made a quick side trip there. I knew they didn't carry my beloved toe socks, but anything would be better than the socks I had. I entered the store in a panic. "I have a sock emergency!!!" I cried to the salesman. Or salesboy, I should say. He looked to be about 14.

But this kid knew his socks! His expression immediately turned to one of deep concern as he took pity on his poor sockless customer, and he started asking me relevant questions about my sock preferences and foot size. He then showed me the Wall of Socks. He pointed to the Swiftwick socks, and explained that they were made of Olefin, a Nobel-prize-winning fiber. I have never run in Nobel-prize-winning anything before (at least not that I'm aware of). My inner engineer needed these socks. So I bought a couple pairs, thanked the helpful and knowledgeable salesboy profusely, and headed to the park to start my run in moisture-wicking Nobel-prize-winning comfort.

My run started out just fine. I ran my 2 easy warm-up miles and felt good. It was cold, cloudy and a bit windy, but not too uncomfortable. But when I started my first mile repeat, things started getting dicey. First I felt a few rain drops on my head. Big, fat ones. No big deal, though; I've run in rain before and it's not so bad. But then the sky broke open and within 30 seconds, I was drenched from head to toe. As a wearer of eyeglasses, this also meant that I couldn't see where I was going because my glasses were covered in water drops.

Desperately in need of tiny windshield wipers

Since I couldn't possibly get any wetter, I figured I may as well keep on running. At the start of my 2nd mile repeat, the wind started picking up, and I thought I heard a faint rumbling in the distance. As I got farther into it, I definitely heard rumbling. And when I finished that repeat, Coach Brad told me that FAST practice was officially canceled due to lightning. The sky was getting darker and scarier, and the rain was getting heavier, so I thought it best to heed his advice to get the heck out of dodge.

But I did not want to stop at just 4 miles. I sat in my car and pondered my options. I could drive home, put on dry clothes, and finish my run on my own poorly-calibrated treadmill. But the temptation to put on comfy sweats and lie on the couch might prove too irresistible. My other option was to drive to the gym and run on a treadmill there. There would be no excuses there. If I went to the gym, I'd have to run. So that's what I did.

When I arrived at the gym 20 minutes later, I realized that I was about to go run on a treadmill soaking wet and dressed for cold outdoor conditions. I was so wet, in fact, that my shoes were making squishy sounds as I walked. I felt ridiculous, to say the least. But I was determined. Squishy shoes or not, I was going to finish my run.

In keeping with my streak of good luck for the night, the more secluded treadmills in the very back corner of the gym were taken. I was going to have to run in plain view of everyone. Everyone was going to see me dripping water onto the treadmill, and they were going to point and laugh at my squishy-sounding shoes. I did not come here to get laughed at, I thought to myself. So I got on the treadmill, water dripping from my hair, and I cranked that bad boy up to 6.6 mph (which isn't exactly blazing, but that's probably about my 10k pace) and I ran.

*squish squish squish squish squish squish*

I noted that although my shoes were squishy, my feet felt remarkably comfortable. Must've been the Nobel-prize-winning Olefin fibers in my new socks. Apparently, Olefin is 10 times more hydrophobic than cotton. Those of you who know me personally know I am all about hydrophobic fibers. Or maybe it's cookies. That's right, I'm all about cookies. But hydrophobic fibers are right up there on my list too!

Before I knew it, my run was over, and my clothes had actually dried out pretty well in that short amount of time. They must be made of hydrophobic fibers as well.

So I did manage to complete my prescribed 8 mile workout, but with an unplanned 20-minute rest in the middle. I suppose this defeated the purpose of the workout, which was to do the mile repeats in fairly rapid succession. But I did the best I could with the conditions I was given. I even got in one final sprint. As I was walking out of the gym, the weather was particularly nasty and lightning was striking in the near vicinity and nonstop. I was on high alert - I know too many people who have been struck by lightning to mess around with it. So I think I was running about a 6:00 pace from the gym entrance to my car. I wish I had turned my Garmin on for that sprint.

The whole evening was a sort of comedy of errors, all starting with the sock emergency incident. So, let this be a lesson to you all, kids: Never forget socks. And if you do, I recommend heading straight home and hiding in the basement.

In other news (and to see how many of you actually read my blog posts all the way to the bitter end), I have officially registered for a fall marathon. My more alert readers may remember me declaring wholeheartedly that I would not run another marathon in 2011.

I lied.

Like a dog.

The truth is, I have a very serious and debilitating condition called Marathon Deficiency Syndrome (MDS). I didn't want to tell you all about it, because I didn't want you all to worry. But I can no longer hide the truth from you, my loyal readers. The only treatment for severe MDS is, of course, to run more marathons. And so this summer I will begin training for the October 2 Lakefront Marathon in none other than my lucky city of Milwaukee.

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I obsess about marathons like no other race. Yes, I may get nervous or excited just before a 5k or a half-marathon. But a marathon is another beast. A marathon is four or five solid months of obsession and passion and sweat and pain (this didn't sound so kinky until typed it out, I swear). And when I really think about it, that's the whole reason I started this blog in the first place: to document my journey to the marathon, whether it's Flying Pig, Chicago, Icebreaker, or Lakefront, or the many more I'm sure are to follow. So here we go, on another marathon journey. It should be a fun one. And I will try to remember to bring socks!

Peace. Love. Train.


  1. Soooo remember reading the "I'm done with marathons in 2011" post... That didn't last long! ;-) Best of luck training. Hope you had a better FAST tonight.

  2. Hmmm. . . .I believe there is a country song called, "You lie". . ..
    You don't want me singing it!!!!
    Emily - you simply amaze me! You have grown leaps and bounds in your running and I hope that I learn from you to become a better and stronger runner. You lead by example and you are a great one to follow! Good luck, Emily!

  3. Sweet! I signed up for the Lakefront too! It's revenge time, I hit the wall HARD last year. I just got the toesocks, haven't tried them yet for running though.