Sunday, September 9, 2007

Lesson learned: Mosquitoes love to feast on runners

I consider myself lucky that I didn't get carried away by a band of blood-sucking mosquitoes. And if I had been whisked away by those mosquitoes, it would have totally been my fault.

I putzed around all day. Watched the Packers. Channel surfed for a bit, finally settling on some cheesy Lifetime movie. Finally, about 5 p.m., I decided I should get off my butt, lace up my running shoes and head out for a run.

I'll be honest. I wasn't sure how this run was going to go. Remember Tuesday? And how I wanted to die after 2.5 miles? My intentions during the rest of the week were good, I was hoping to get out and log some miles, but I didn't. So I hadn't run in a few days.

As I was driving out to the trail, I told myself, just plan on doing 6 miles, even though I should have been planning for a run somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 miles.

I strapped on my MP3 player, complete with a new (longer) play list, and headed out. Conditions were nice. Temperatures were somewhere around 67, and an overcast sky made it comfortable to run in. The first mile went pretty good after my legs warmed up. Mile 2 wasn't bad either. No feelings of wanting to die yet. So I kept going, just listening to my tunes. Pretty soon I hit the 3-mile marker. Originally this is where I had planned to turn around. But I was still feeling pretty good. My legs still felt fresh even. So I kept going. The next crossroad I came to is where I had turned around on Tuesday, but in the back of my mind I was thinking, "Maybe I can make it 9 tonight anyway." So I crossed the street and kept going on the next part of the trail. I got to where I was going to turn around and I had to stop momentarily to fix my headband.

Bad idea.

I kid you not, I no more than stopped running and the mosquitoes started swarming me! There were two on my knee and one was feasting on my arm. I haven't got a clue where they all came from! I quick set my water bottle down, pulled out my headphones and fixed my headband. I barely had my headphones in my ears before I started running again, mostly to escape the blood-thirsty mosquitoes.

I settled back in my pace, thinking my mosquito problems were behind me, back in that marshy area. I was wrong.

For the entire 4.5 miles back to my car, not only was I concentrating on finishing my run, but every so often I found myself trying to swat away mosquitoes, or attempt to itch a mosquito bite in mid-stride. So not fun. And the welts that they left? HUGE! And itchy!

Aside from the mosquitoes, the second half of my run was good. I still felt pretty good, except for the itching. I toyed with taking a short walk break somewhere around Mile 7, but decided against it since whenever I slowed down, the mosquitoes would swarm. And swarming mosquitoes meant the possibility of more bites. And that wouldn't be fun.

So I kept running.

And before I knew it, I was back at my car. I tried to stop at a bench to do some stretching, but the mosquitoes attacked. So I opted to finish stretching once I got back to my apartment.

After Tuesday's awful run, I was seriously doubting that I'd be able to finish this half-marathon without dying, but tonight's run gave me the confidence I needed. I covered the 9.1 miles in 1 hour, 48 minutes. Not bad, just shy of a 12 minute mile pace. I'll take that.

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