11 a.m. Wednesday: Cold drizzle outside. A blessed spot of rainless gray on the radar map of D.C. that, when the map is animated, looks to be headed right for Silver Spring. I decide to wait it out and squeeze in some extra work before my lunchtime run.
11:30 a.m.: It’s pouring. Raining so hard, the sound of the gigantic raindrops smacking against the roof is loud enough to make me turn up the volume on my Radiohead CD inside. The gray matter on the radar has disappeared, squeezed out by two globs of yellow-green “heavy rainfall zones.” Hourly forecast shows 100 percent chance of precipitation for the rest of the day. Crap.
11:45 a.m.: Obsessively checking the hourly weather forecast does not lend itself to productive, focused work. Suiting up for a run doesn’t, either, but it does release me from the anxiety of procrastination.
11:47 a.m.: Hop on the treadmill in the gym on the ground floor of my building for a speed workout, setting my sights on a reasonable 3X8-minute mile workout. Set treadmill for 8-minute-mile pace and begin.
11:48 a.m.: Stop treadmill. Groan audibly. Decide to brave the rain, which can’t possibly be as bad as a treadmill.
11:49 a.m.: Return to gym, soaked and freezing after standing in the rain for about 10 seconds. This particular rainstorm is, indeed, worse than the treadmill.
11:50 a.m.: OK. Here we go. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s OK that it’s hard. It’s a speed workout. It doesn’t matter that 8-minute miles “should” be easy, based on some other version of me frozen in time as the only appropriate standard for my own speed. All that matters is me, on this treadmill, today.
11:57 a.m.: Crank up pace to 7:30-minute miles. Pant audibly. Push hard here. Do this NOW.
11:58 a.m.: Done already!
Noon: Second mile, go! A totally vile Eminem song comes on my iPod. I turn it up, and to lock into the pace, I revert to a mantra I half-borrowed from Beyonce a million years ago: “I’m fierce. I’m strong. I can make it through this song.” I can’t explain why it works, only that it does.
12:07 p.m.: Crank up pace to 7:20-minute miles, with the distinct sense that I am living very, very dangerously.
12:08 p.m.: Moan as I stop the treadmill at exactly one mile. There’s no way I’m going to be able to get back on in two minutes and run a third mile. No way.
12:10 p.m.: Start mile No. 3. Tired. Already sore. Stop at half a mile; it’s going to have to be 2X1 mile, and 2X.5 miles.
12:15 p.m.: Last half mile; time to use it all up. Hold 7:30 pace. It’s not so bad. Just hang on.
12:20 p.m.: I am laying on my back with a foam roller directly beneath my spine, my arms and legs splayed to the side. I should get up and eat lunch. I should just get up. But I might nap here instead. Because when you run your first speed workout since ACL surgery several months ago; when you force your butt onto the treadmill in the pouring rain, and when you force your mind into a state of flow when it wants to be cranky and anxious; you deserve to lay motionless on a foam roller for a little while.