September 17, 2010

Walk a mile in my shoes

Or run 13.  Or attempt to run 13.  Again.  Less than a week after my last attempt, and after several days of manual labor at my Dad's.  My Dad told me yesterday about some research on brain synapses, which found at some point the synapses break apart, then come back together.  This supposedly explains what kids are thinking when the do stupid stuff.  The answer?  Nothing.  The brain synapses aren't firing.  I tried to research it, but Google mainly wanted to talk about Alzheimer's.

So maybe this isn't only a kid thing (or an Alzheimer's thing).  Maybe I wasn't thinking when I decided a 13-miler was a good idea, today.  Yes, my legs were still feeling the effects of the last 5 days, but there's always the chance they will rise to the challenge, right?  And I have another half marathon on October 10, so need to get the long runs in.  I want next month's experience to be better than last weekend's!  I think what I was, was hopeful.

I was better prepared than last weekend, at any rate.  Ate a substantial lunch.  Packed my fruit snacks, along with the unused Hammer Energy Gel they handed out at last week's race.  Wore the new shoes that felt so good on Tuesday's 2.5-miler.  Packed a few dollar bills, just in case.  Grabbed the music.  Filled the camelback with water, an extra bottle with a watered down tea/lemonade mix, and I was off.

The first mile or so always sucks, as I warm up and find my breathing rhythm.  This is not helped by the fact that EVERY DIRECTION from my house is uphill!  At least the weather was more cooperative than the last time I ran this route.  No headwind, at any rate.  I started out slow and easy, knowing I had a long way to go.

I trotted up the main street of my little burg, 2.5 miles to the first turn in my giant 13 mile circle.  The incline is a long slow grade with one or two short steep bits, until about the last quarter mile.  Then it becomes more hill than incline.  Turning the corner, the hill gets somewhat steeper for another quarter mile or so.  At this point I knew my feet were still tender and I was still tired from the week.  I considered an alternate 11-mile route.  The alternate route goes up a very steep 2.5 mile hill (maybe close to 500-600 feet in elevation) through the park.  The last time I tried it I made it 9 miles, and was seriously concerned I wouldn't make it home before collapsing.  Granted that was from a different starting point, making the total trip 12.3 miles. 

I wanted to do the 13 miles.   Not only did I want to cover the distance, I wanted to run it nonstop.  I was certain last weekend was a fluke, that I would come in at the 12-minute-mile pace I expected to finish with, then.  I pushed through the hill at a pretty good pace (for me), and followed my shadow up the long slow grade after.  I stopped and stretched my feet long enough for a traffic light, then headed off as the hill got steep again.  Luckily it leveled out for a while at about the 5th mile.  

About the 6th mile, I started to wonder if I was going to make the distance.  I took the Hammer gel, which tasted very raspberry and stayed down comfortably.  Something to think about for the next race.  I felt the effects after several minutes, and ran somewhat comfortably up another long slow grade.  

By the time I hit the 7th mile, I knew I wasn't going to run the distance nonstop.  Every muscle in my legs was tired, and I still had 6 miles to go on the shortest route home.  Remembering my exhaustion on the 12.3 mile run, I decided to run/walk, a block of each, and hoped I could at least beat last week's time.  I did this for about half a mile, then stopped at the gas station for more water.  It felt good to just stop for a few minutes while I filled my camel-back (it wasn't empty, but felt light enough I was concerned I'd run out).  I ran from the gas station, under the freeway overpass, and started back with the run/walk.  I told myself I could only walk on the sidewalk, starting and ending my run by crossing a street.  

I made it 9.2 miles before everything fell to pieces.  My legs were shaking.  I'd eaten all my fruit snacks, and was still hungry.  My headphones battery died, and the balls of my feet were throbbing in my shoes.  As a matter of fact, I stopped and took off my shoes.  Walking on the grass gave my tootsies some cushion, and yesterday's rain made the ground cool.  I walked that way for about a mile and a half before Monkey Boy was able to rescue me.  

So now I'm sitting at home, feet on a blue ice block, wondering what I was thinking.  Monkey Boy leaves for Germany in a few days, and Ninja does not yet drive.  I would have been one cold, tired, miserable puppy by the time I got home, if I had to walk the whole way.  I was practically in tears by the time Monkey Boy arrived, and would not have made it home without stopping somewhere to rest for a while (a LONG while!).

I was hopeful.  Something in me says I can do better than last week, even when evidence indicates otherwise.  Something in me still says, with enough rest, I can do this!  I should have already done this!  I'm not trying to win any races.  I just want to run it to the finish!  

Maybe next time.  If not, then maybe the time after.  I can do this.  I will do this, and we'll see where I go from there.  I have a marathon niggling at the back of my brain.  It terrifies me now, but it doesn't seem to be going away, so I'm sure I'll make friends with it sooner or later...

River Run photo, looking much like I felt today.  I have a lot to learn, and a long way to go!!

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