It’s early afternoon on Canada Day and I am doing nothing. I’ve been reading and staring at the internet and drinking water flavoured with blueberries and cucumbers. I’ve been thinking constantly about going for a run, because I’ve been sore every day for the last week and I don’t want it to stop, but it is hot and humid out (heat index is 35C / 95F) and a thunderstorm’s on its way. I’ve been trying to visualize the misery of the treadmill, to prepare myself for what may be inevitable. I’ll be miserable outside, too, but at least I can’t get hit by lightning. But I’ll put a bottle of Gatorade in the freezer, just in case the storm is over before it gets dark.
On Sunday I spent an hour with a teammate tossing a disc and doing drills at Bayfront Park. Afterward I sat in the shade, finishing off my bottle of warm water, thinking about how much I would regret not going for a run if I just went home like I really wanted to. So I ate an energy gel and got a refill of barely-cool water at the drinking fountain and ran a painful 6k. Painful not so much in my legs or my feet or my lungs, but painful because I was drenched with sweat, burning in the sun, and fantasizing about a bathtub full of ice. Painful because less than halfway through it rained for about a minute, a delicious bucket of cool rain for which I pulled off my hat and sunglasses and stood there with my face up to the sky, but then the clouds passed over and the sun returned and the air was more sweltering than it had been, waves of heat coming off the asphalt. What seemed like a fast pace that afternoon was a slow pace on any other day. I staggered through the rest of the run and walked home from the park.
On Saturday I ran 7k, mostly on a shaded trail but without water, and that was brutal too. On Friday I ran 2.5k home from work. On Wednesday I ran 6k after dinner at a pace that would have been easy in May and had to walk home very slowly so that I wouldn’t throw up. Between the heat, the humidity, and the pitiful 43k run in June (compared to 80k in May), I am in sad shape. My heart rate and breathing are fine, but I’ve lost a lot of mental endurance and leg strength. But it will get better.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Budapest for three days, for work, and I had a great time. I never adjusted to the time difference, which meant I never got enough sleep and spent the mornings with heavy eyelids, but it also meant that it felt good to come home. Budapest was beautiful and the weather was perfect and everything work-related went well. I haven’t travelled much for work — Rome, Singapore, Philadelphia twice, Washington DC, Boston, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Toronto many times, all over about 10 years — but being the kind of person who is ever anxious about the unfamiliar, it’s not something I get excited about, and travelling for work usually means there isn’t time for anything beyond the airport, the hotel, and the rides between them, but this trip was different. The flights were less painful than I expected, my travel papers were in perfect order, and I met many very lovely Europeans. We spent a lot of time on the hotel’s patio looking at the Danube and its bridges and the National Gallery (which we all just called “the palace”) and other beautiful buildings on the Buda side. I went for a run one afternoon across and along and back across the river, getting pleasantly lost in a busy pedestrian shopping area (certainly not intended for runners) along the way. I wanted to go for another run the next afternoon, but the hotel patio seemed more attractive in the moment. The conference area had windows everywhere looking out onto the river. I had breakfast every morning looking out on the river. In my room at night I sat on the windowsill and looked out at the river.
The promised thunderstorm has held off so far and it’s slowly getting cooler. The sun keeps appearing and disappearing. The air conditioning seems louder than it did earlier and the tree branches outside our windows are bending and swaying uneasily. Pizza dough is rising in a bowl on the table next to me. I finished my afternoon cup of coffee a few minutes ago. There will be fireworks at Bayfront Park tonight.