OK, atheist friends, I've proven it. There is a God!!
Now, I'm a believer anyway, but I weren't, today's run would have converted me. Not because it was great, but because it was about the most horrible run I've had since starting this half-marathon training.
Why would a horrible run convince me of the existence of a benevolent Creator and Guardian? Here's my list of reasons:
1) (and this is a big number one) No cars or runners went by when I was squatting in a ditch by a bare and spiney bush at mile 11.6 of today's 14-mile run. I had toilet paper with me, I got my urgent business done, I got my pants pulled back into place...and though the cramping continued until the bitter end, I finished the run in time to make it to an actual toilet for round two (and even waved and smiled at two other runners and a couple walking their dog on the way; I don't think they suspected a thing).
2) I survived the chinook winds. Yes, the winds returned, just in time for today's afternoon jaunt. On the drive out, I watched numerous flags stretched like compass needles in the western blast buffeting us from the mountains. I ran into this headwind/sidewind for a good portion of this run. I was sorely tempted to skip the backroads and use the pass to Flatiron Athletic Club that Christine gave me for my birthday. But I didn't. I stuck it out. It was divinely-inspired determination that prevented 14 wind-free but excruciatingly dull miles on the treadmill.
3) I had purchased new shoes this week, trading in my Asics for a shiny new pair of New Balance 940s. In all the years I've been running I've never gotten wed to a particular brand of shoe. The salesguy at Boulder Running Company told me this is actually a good thing. I also told him about my foot issue, and he fitted me with a neuroma pad. I thought it was going to drive me crazy, but it helped--my right foot feels much better after this run than it has for a long time after a long run. I'm hoping the doc on Monday agrees that what I have is a neuroma, which would be much easier to deal with than something like a stress fracture.
4) In addition to surviving the wind, the foot and the intestinal problems, I also survived the muddy road, the puddles left by melting snow and the sun, which for the first time since the fall felt hot. I hate heat. But I made it.
5) I didn't run sub-9s in these conditions, but my inconsistent pace in the end averaged out to 9:04/mile. That's still good enough for a sub-2-hour half marathon (and according to the program all I had to do was hit 9:13). Which makes me happy, because it's quite possible today's conditions will be race-day springtime-in-Boulder conditions.
6) The nausea I felt after this run left me about 2 hours later (and after consuming lots of water and one difficult cup of hot chocolate). I had enough energy to bathe my monkey children, read them two Curious George stories and get them into bed. In a way, just getting this run done with Dan out of town was an accomplishment.
So in sum: it wasn't pretty, but I've been pretty lucky that most of them to this point have been pretty. I was probably due for a real challenge. That which does not kill us makes us stronger. After today's run, and a good night's sleep, I will definitely feel badass. And ready for a Sunday's rest.