Just a few minutes into the run, I got side stitches that were painful enough that I was forced to stop and walk. Performing high-impact exercise safely means learning the difference between pain that signals potential injury and pain that can be safely ignored. Side stitches are normally in the latter category, a minor inconvenience. But every time I resumed running, the pain came back.
I slowed again to a walk along the Marina, feeling sorry for myself despite the beautiful, fog-free view. I realized that I hadn't eaten properly the day before, as I'd been very tired and busy all day shooting and editing photos from the marriage equality rally and sit-in. I'd also had let too much time pass between waking and working out this morning, with only the calories from a cup of tea (sugared-and-soymilked) to sustain me. I normally get cramps if I try to run with any solid food in my stomach, but today maybe I just needed a little boost. I swallowed a Clif Shot and some water, and continued walking slowly to the Palace of Fine Arts.
After reaching my destination and turnaround point, I began cautiously running again. I did not feel the pain this time, but kept to a slow pace. I managed to run the rest of the way home, and finish with a time about two minutes per mile slower than my fastest for this particular course. Still glacial by competitive standards, but at least I didn't give up. (It helped that giving up would still entail a substantial amount of walking, or multiple bus transfers to get home. I don't carry enough money to hail a cab when I go for a run.)
I'm glad that I'm continuing to find motivation to work out on a regular basis, even though it won't always be at the level of my birthday week challenge. I'm reasonably happy with my weight and figure for the first time in years, and would like to stay that way. But more importantly, I'm in my early 40s, and my body isn't going to take care of itself.