Have I mentioned that I am a heliophile? Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary gives the following definition:
Heliophile (noun): one attracted or adapted to sunlight.
This is totally me, although I didn’t know it until a year or two ago, after I moved to Philadelphia for grad school. I grew up in Arizona, and I completely took for granted the 360 days of sunshine per year. Before moving I distinctly remember thinking, “I love the rain! Rainy days are great, so it’s fine that Philly has more of them!” Ha. Little did I know that there is a huge difference between rainy days and rainy weeks/months, and little did I know that, like many people, a lack of sunshine has a very real and negative effect on my mood.
I’ve learned to cope with the fewer number of sunny days (it’s called chocolate, if anyone is curious about said coping strategy), and more importantly, I have learned to never take sunshine for granted. Today was a perfect spring day – sunshine in spades, a light refreshing breeze – and with the temperature hovering around 50 degrees, it was the best running weather to date in 2013. Lina and I did a 12 mile run at Valley Forge Park, the same hilly route that I ran two weeks ago for my 15 miler. The hills were still there (surprise!), but the reduced number of miles, the weather, and the company combined to make today’s run a much better experience.
(I included a picture of the shoes since today marked the first long run in my new shoes. I don’t know, I love my shoes, both old and new, and thought they deserved some attention.)
And our route:
We ran the run in 1:43:43, and considering the sizable hills that pervade the course, I’m very happy with that. At the 6 mile point Lina and I both tried out some energy chews (she had the Honey Stingers, I had the Gu Chomps). We agreed that they were less desirable than the gels, just because the chewing seemed cumbersome. Isn’t that ironic? We can run 12 miles but are too lazy to chew. Anyway, the Honey Stingers taste better and are smaller, both of which are good qualities to have; the Gu Chomps tasted exactly like the Gu gels, which is fine because I don’t mind their flavor, but they were pretty chunky. I still like that the Gu Chomps had a little bit of protein in them, but I think in general things with caffeine are the best. I think I’ll stick to the gels.
Another thing we (and by we, I mean mostly Lina) learned on this run is that water belts stay put wayyyy less when wearing running shorts versus running tights. Poor Lina ran the first 6 miles with the water belt – unnecessarily I might add, since we didn’t need it until after that point – and had to deal with the ill-fitting, bouncing thing the entire time. I ran with it for about 1/4 mile and couldn’t deal, and promptly ditched it at my car. Lesson learned. Summer hydration will be interesting…
I have been meaning to mention, by the way, that Lina has a great blog of her own. I don’t know that I would have thought to use a blog as a way of documenting my marathon journey without knowing that she had one. You will find her blog here. Enjoy!
Before signing off, I want to go back to the topic of sunshine and clarify that there are definitely things to appreciate in a place with regular rainfall. Above, my words could be interpreted as me having a bad attitude towards the climate here in Pennsylvania, and while this is definitely true at times, Easter is a time of year when I am reminded that all the rain is good for something. As a kid, I never understood why Easter always seemed to be associated with tulips and pastels. Seriously, I had only ever seen tulips and daffodils at the florist, and spring in Arizona meant only one thing: wind. But during my first very rainy spring in Philly, I was blown away by all the flowers. The notion that ‘April showers bring May flowers’ is a real thing! In a way, the flowers make up for the lack of sunshine because their colors are a reminder that winter is fading away. At this point in the year, that makes me happy too.