Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hell Week

The New York Marathon is November 7th, giving me a measly month to finish training. I can no longer put off those long runs. Thus enters Hell Week.

All the high school athletes in the house remember those days, right at the end of pre-season training, when your coach put you through the grinder. For me, it was swim team. Hell Week conjures up memories of my coach, an ex-female body builder, screaming profanities as we sprinted laps up the steepest hill in the neighborhood. Never mind we weren't runners.

These next two weeks, I'll be kicking it into high gear, wearing ice packs and drinking lots of chocolate milk. In other words, no more pink clouds and puppy dogs.
I made one last day of procrastination yesterday, but for good reason. On Friday, I was walking home when the sky opened. Lighting was far enough away that I wasn't in danger, but close enough that I could feel the thunder. About ten minutes from home, the downpour began. It was the kind of rain where you could bring out your shampoo. I was soaked to the bone.

So when I saw the sky morph during the beginning of yesterday's run, I decided to procrastinate just one more day before Hell Week. I really didn't want to be stuck on a high ridge with thunder and a scared Kona.
Today's sky was much more benign. No more excuses! I wanted to run at least 16 miles. Kona would help me through the first half and I would take to the streets to finish on my own. For the first time is many days, the air felt cool. We were off.
The first few steps scared me. My legs felt like bricks. We had a lazy week with our high temperatures and I was feeling it. Luckily, the initial burn faded quickly. Kona helped me up our early hills with several rabbit sightings.

I was surprised to feel my body relax. Before I knew it, the sun was up and we were nearing our last lap.
As we finished our 8th mile, I felt (relatively) strong, but tried not to think about the fact that I was only halfway through my run.

I dropped Kona off at home, drank some water and scarfed half an energy bar before heading out the door. I'm not use to running on streets, but figure it's probably a good idea to let my body adjust to the different impact before I take on 26 miles in November.

I ran through my neighborhood, pass a busy freeway on ramp, and over rolling hills to a nearby running and cycling mecca. While I seek out solitude on trails, the hub-bub of this 5k loop provided great distraction as my knees and hips started talking to me.

People of every shape, size and age were out for a Sunday workout. A woman with a triathlete's physique sported an Ironman cap. Her gait was relaxed and strong. I tried to match it.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle.

Well, I tried.

A boy hollered from his stroller, "Bang, bang, bang," and shot me as I ran by.

Cyclists in fancy matching kits road by in a peloton. An 8 year old got reprimanded by his dad as he zoomed close by me on his 16" bike.

As twinges in my knees and hips came and went, I was glad the people watching gave me something else to focus on. I finally finished the 5k loop and headed back up for the last 2.5 miles toward home.

It was in these last miles that I realized that distance running has little to do with cardiovascular fitness and everything to do with joint resiliency. My hips ached. It's a familiar feeling but not a comfortable one. While I was breathing like I would if out on a stroll, my legs took a beating.

With many more shuffles, I made it home. I hadn't been beat to a pulp, but I felt nervous. Could I handle 10 more miles? What was I in for? Then, I opened the door and Kona clobbered me, licking all the salt off my face. It was a victory celebration at the finish line!

Not a bad start to Hell Week.


Sam said...

16 miles, wow! I can't even imagine what that feels like.

You are truly a persistent and dedicated person - evident through your work with your dog and your discipline with running. I would have skipped those thundery days, too!

Have you made your schedule yet for your time in NY? I wish that I could go see a part of the marathon, it really is fascinating to me, but I will be trialing at my club's agility trial that weekend.

Priscilla said...

You are such a strong-willed person.

I mean 16 miles is no joke!

Well, we hope that all goes well for you in the marathon! Kona is such a sweetie for giving you an awesome victory celebration! I'm sure the week will go by quickly for you!

Dawn said...

I remember those days. I trained on an 8 mile hilly (but not as hilly as YOUR hills!) loop that went around a lake. Always the people watching helped. But I recognize your pain, that's for sure! I think, in addition to joint resiliency there is the part about the mind. That if you are mentally tough, and you are, barring injury you can do anything!

And yes, you can do the last 10 miles during the race. The adrenalin of the race will pull you through, just like Kona pulls you up the mountain. Promise.

I've been there, you're going to be just fine - trust me. Do another long run next weekend, short runs during the next 2 to 2 and a half weeks, a run about half as long as you've been doing the weekend after next and then rest rest rest and drink drink drink water to maintain your hydration.

You are going to be FABULOUS!

Sara said...

Ok, I have to go look up the word peloton.

Thanks for bringing us on your run, I loved the descriptions of the people you passed. You're amazing.

KB said...

I couldn't agree with you more about distance running - the pounding is the hardest part. I was a runner, way back before I knew how bad my back was. Did a couple of marathons. But, I never felt like my cardiovascular fitness was the constraint - it was the darn pounding.

You're very smart to do some extra road miles... My husband mainly runs trails and has a heck of a time whenever he needs to run or race on the roads.

I bet that your "Hell two weeks" will turn out to be fun! Kona looks happy about it!

Kathy said...

I can not even imagine.....YOU ROCK, I totally admire you sooo much. Stay strong, lots of water, lots of sleep, lots of good nutrition and stay away from people with colds ;-), you sound like you got it covered!!!! Gooo get em!

Anonymous said...

So after we read your post, my mom had to go lay down. She's happy just to get through a 5k and reading abouts running 16 miles made her exhausted! We think you're super amazing and most obviously, Kona thinks so, too!

Wiggles & Wags,

Two Pitties in the City said...

Good luck with the rest of your training! My long runs are behind me as the Chicago Marathon is this Sunday. They're estimating it to be an 81 degree day. I am amazed Kona can run that far and it must be so great to have a training partner. I enjoy reading your posts, and don't's all mental.

Diana said...

I dont know how you do it. Congrats! I love the sky/cloud pictures. Diana

Stella said...

I feel so proud of you! You know just what you have to do, and are doing it! You will do great!

Can't wait to hear the story about NY and the marathon as well.

Cheers and hugs,

Jo and Stella

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

Ooph. Running is NOT my thing, especially long distances. Good luck in these final stages of training. I'll send all kinds of cushioning thoughts to your joints.