The wall of wind has followed me since I left home, only now I have crossed to the east side of the channel and changed direction so that I'm heading south and directly into the wind. A few minutes ago it was snowing popcorn sized snowflakes but now it has turned back to rain. I lower my head and push against it, lucky to maintain 9 minute mile pace. I hit the point where I'm planning to begin my "tempo" run and am blasted with such fierce winds that I can only lower my speed to about 7 minute pace. My legs feel weak and as soon as I hit the first small uphill my lungs start a serious struggle of their own.
And somehow the wind seems to keep getting stronger. For some reason I continue on, eventually moving a bit faster. I find a way to stabilize my heart rate at a little faster pace. I'm now down to about 6 minute per mile pace, still ridiculously slow for a tempo run, but so much faster than I was running just minutes ago that I feel like I'm flying. I hit a few gradual downhills and am able to speed it up even more. Eventually some of the wind is blocked by a row of trees and I'm able to maintain 5:45 pace, even as I head back uphill.
The rain is much heavier now. I'm wet to the core and heading into the wind I'm beginning to get chilled. It's such a strange feeling to be working my heart rate so high but my body still can't keep itself warm. If I were running this hard at 20 below zero I would be toasty warm and wouldn't need any more clothing than I'm wearing today at 40 above.
I hit the point where I plan to turn around. 8 miles from home and 2.5 miles into the "tempo" portion of my run. The wind is now directly behind me and the rolling hills will trend toward more downhill than up for the next couple miles. With the tailwind my body warms up almost instantly and now 5:30 pace feels easier than 6:30 pace did just 15 minutes ago. On the first downhill I'm able to lower it to 5:10 pace and that's where I stay for the next 2 miles. I feel my legs moving very quickly, but the tailwind makes for a pretty comfortable effort.
As I ease up into my 5 mile "easy" cool down to get me back home I feel like I could have maintained the 5:10 pace forever. In a few moments though I cross the channel once again and begin to head south toward home. The wind blows at my face. I become chilled again and my pace plummets. I shuffle along feeling like the 2 miles to home might take forever.
Once I'm finally showered and heading off to work I wonder why I would ever go out and run in such horrible conditions. Even more odd is that I would try to run so fast in such horrible conditions. At the time it somehow seemed to make sense, but it all seems so ridiculous as soon as I'm removed from it and getting on with the rest of my day. 5 weeks from tomorrow It'll make sense again. I'll be 40 miles into The Miwok and very glad to have such a "horrible" run in the bank, waiting to be withdrawn.