Sometimes runs don’t go according to plan. And sometimes that change in plans can totally mess up your running mojo.
Wednesday night, I had plans for a great run. It was 51 degrees and sunny in Washington, DC during the day – a huge change from the below average temps we’ve had this winter. At 6:30 pm it was still supposed to be above 40 which would feel almost toasty after the ice storm we had on Tuesday morning. I decided I’d run the 5K course for my Valentines Day race and then do a few slow repeats of the quarter mile hill at the course start (seriously, how mean is it to have a steep hill at the start of a race?!).
Things started off ok – not wonderful, but ok. Positive: I paced myself up the hill pretty well. Negative: It was suddenly super windy and I forgot my gloves. Positive: A guy passed me at the top of the hill and I was able to use him to get my pace back on track. Negative: Suddenly, 80% of the streetlights were out.
Arlington (and most of Northern Virginia) is absolutely horrible with street lights. For such a populated area, there are a ton of streets with no lights at all and even more streets where lamps burn out and aren’t replaced for a really long time. I followed my pacer friend for about a quarter mile before I realized I couldn’t see him when he was between working street lights. I looked down and realized between streetlights I actually couldn’t see my feet. This was not good. I was not ready to break an ankle. Even though I was wearing a reflective belt, I didn’t feel like I could be certain that passing cars could see me so I turned around and decided to wing it. The map below shows where things go totally awry.
The green and red dots are the start/finish lines of the race. The arrows show my path. The crossed out sun is where I realized I couldn’t see my feet and the ?! 😦 is where I got lost.
I turned down the first side street I saw that was well lit. Negative: Of course, the street curved and immediately turned into a gigantic hill. Positive: I was already planning on some hills. I got to the top of the hill and decided to go right. Negative: There was another hill to the right. Bonus extra negative: That hill was a dead end.
At this point I started to get really panicked and flustered. I could actually still see my apartment but couldn’t figure out what roads to take to get me back there. Negative: I realized I was totally lost within my own neighborhood. I stood there for a good 5 minutes and just tried to figure out what to do. I live in a neighborhood that’s pretty close to a major highway. I usually run in the direction opposite the highway and never really thought about how many roads would be intersected by it.
Positive: I decided to get myself together, accept that this was pretty much a lost run, and enjoy the upcoming downhills while I tried to orient myself. And I did. It took me about a mile but I got back onto one of the streets on my usual running route. My first reaction was to hightail it for home, forget this run ever happened and head back out the next day. But I realized that ending a run on such a negative would leave me in a bad mood all night so I did a mile of nice, normal running on a street that I recognized. My shins were so sore from the 3 fairly epic hills but running that one good mile felt so good.
I definitely learned a lesson on this run: Always have a back up plan. If you’re not sure where you’re going, running up and down random streets is probably not the best course of action.
This weekend it’s supposed to be extremely cold again:
As much as I’d love to buck up and run 8 miles in the cold, I might need to change course. Thankfully my gym is about 2 miles away, and only a mile from the trail I want to run on. Long Run Plan B: 2 miles in the cold to the gym, strip down and treadmill for 4 miles, bundle back up and run 2 miles home. It actually sounds kind of fun!
How do you get yourself back on track when a run doesn’t go according to plan?