Thursday, February 20, 2014

Running high at sea level

Runners highs are one of those things that are mythical and elusive.  I can count on one hand the number of times that I've experienced this.  Probably just 3 times and really, the first one probably didn't count.

  1. during my first half marathon.  Probably not endophin related - more like, "wow, this is FUN, I get it now".  It was the first time I'd had fun while running.  (it made training for that half marathon a fairly long and not-so-fun process)
  2. a ~6 mile run while at the family ranch in Southern Idaho.  I remember this run and the huge endorphin high vividly, even though this was a good 2+ years ago.
  3. my run on Sunday.  I remember being mid-run and thinking to myself "wow, endorphin highs are awesome"
Endorphin highs are what keeps me running (among other things).  You never know when you'll experience it, but when you do, wow.  Amazing.

This past weekend, we were in New Orleans visiting our super cute 3.5 month old nephew.  Because I have a 10 mile race coming up, I had to get in a 1:40 run on Sunday.  In New Orleans.  Pros: sea level!  Cons: I may get shot or run over while running!

I posted on a forum I like for suggestions on where to run.  They suggested Lakeshore Drive or City Park.  The family we were visiting looked at me a bit crazy but also thought City Park would be good.  Although they suggested I drive there because it was "kind of far".  (It was 2 miles away).  I decided, since they're night people and likely wouldn't be up to drive me (we didn't rent a car) that I would just run from the house.  Besides, it was 8 AM on a Sunday morning, the morning after the local Mardi Gras parade.  No one was going to be out.

I had 20 min of warmup, then 1 hour at my half marathon pace (10:30), and a 20 min cool down.  City Park was ~2.25 miles away, so my tempo run started a bit before I got to the park.  I really didn't know what to expect.  I looked at the park on a map on my phone but didn't really register anything.  I was just hoping I'd find roads or maybe a bike path to run on for about 6-7 miles.  Along the east side of the park was a really nice bike path that followed a bayou, so I headed south on that for a bit.  Then a encountered a highway that ran east-west and I didn't feel like taking the path under the highway (it looked sketchy) so I took a road west that paralleled the highway but was within park boundaries (is it just me, or is it weird to have a park be bisected by a highway?).  I ran along that for a while and took a road called "diagonal" where I encountered a bunch of frisbee-golfers.  I think by this point I'd only seen 2 other runners (wearing M-dot visors) and a cyclist.  

It was a bit strange but also fun to not know exactly where I was.  I knew I was in a park, but I really didn't know where the roads went.  I was just exploring and having a fun time.  I hit a traffic circle at some point, took a road west and encountered a group of ~6 runners.  My people!  I asked if I could run with them for a bit and they said no problem.  I ended up running with two other women on a really, really nice trail.  It was very soft, which my legs appreciated after running on icky concrete for 4.5 miles.  These women were a bit faster than the pace I was supposed to do, but it was fun to run with people and the trail was really confusing.  I didn't want to get lost so I just kept up.  It was SO MUCH FUN.  Leave it to me to find not only runners but runners ON A TRAIL during a random run while travelling.  

We did 2 loops (about 1.25 miles each?) of the trail before we parted ways.  They were really nice ladies and they even gave me a tip about a beignet place inside the park.  I did a quick out and back to take some photos and then I started heading back home.  I was about a mile over my distance, but that was ok. I was riding my running high and really having a good time.

On my way home, I just enjoyed things and really absorbed the feeling of joy and luck.  I really lucked out with this run, in so many ways.  Its like the running universe knows when you need a good run and delivers it when you least expect it.  I plan on holding on to that endorphin high for quite a while and use it as motivation to keep running towards the next one.

I didn't realize it until this weekend, but I miss live oaks.  They're just so big and old and awesome.
City Park
Auntie E and Clark

tasty golden fried pillows of sugary happiness.....

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