This was an interesting week. I had decided to do my long run as part of a local group run on Friday morning, and I had some serious massage and physical therapy scheduled throughout the week to try to permanently fix this annoying calf cramping, so my week was geared toward that.
Mistakes were made. I ate lunch and then did my run 8 hours later without eating again, I didn’t bring food with me because it wasn’t a long run. I experienced what I think was my first official bonk. I made it to the end, but not particularly impressively. Also, it was windy and I was attacked by the nature – a big palm leaf was blown off the tree (I assume) and landed on my head. I screamed and did a ridiculous dance of terror. Of course one of the police cars that patrols was parked nearby. The officer jumped out and ran over, he tried to ask if I was ok but had a hard time because he was laughing so very hard. I couldn’t blame him, it was a truly ridiculous dance, and if you can’t be fast…be funny. He apologized for laughing and told me he sees me out there all the time and he really admires my dedication. (I’m also aware of my privilege here – this interaction could have gone very differently were I a Person of Color, or homeless, or more visibly queer, or trans, or a member of any number of marginalized groups.)
This was a long ride on the trainer, so in addition to working on my biking I also got to work on my overcoming boredom skills.
This went fine. Easy peasy.
Planned Day Off
I’ve been getting faster on my long run every week for a while now. Today was a break from that trend.
I had decided to do this with a local running group, which meant starting at ass o’clock in the morning. It was on a beach path, and was run on in two loops, it was a different path than I usually run. It was really tough and gave me a chance to try out some new challenges:
Let’s start with the good news: everyone in the group was super cool and supportive, I finished the run.
Now let’s talk about the challenges:
Sleep (or not): I generally go to bed late and wake up late so I had walked back my sleep times so that I would be able to go to bed early and wake up early (really early. Why does this stuff start so damn early?) I laid down feeling tired, and then my brain said “Hey, want to think about every bad run you’ve ever had and everything that could go wrong tomorrow?” And I was like, not really, no. So my brain said “Great, let’s do that.” I was in bed for 8 hours. The last time I looked at the clock before I finally fell asleep it was 45 minutes until the alarm. I woke up with a pounding headache and a strong desire to turn off the alarm and go to sleep.
Wind: We left the parking lot, turned onto the beach path and the wind literally knocked me back. The guy next to me said “Are you fucking kidding me with this wind?” which made me feel better – at least I wasn’t over-reacting. One weather forecast said 18-20 mph gusting winds. Whatever it was, it was right in my face for the first, and most of the third, sections. It repeatedly blew off my hat which was held down (in theory) by my headphones. I haven’t worked that hard to go that slow since Kelrick and I were on the bridge during the Seattle marathon. My right calf cramped hard immediately and kept cramping for nine miles which is definitely a new record. Then it gave me a few miles off, then cramped some more for the last mile and a half. As a fun bonus I breathed in roughly a barrel of sand.
The sun: This makes me so glad that I’m slow enough that most of my IRONMAN run will happen after dark. As the sun came up I felt like I was in a horror movie -John Carpenter’s “The Sun” I was running in the shade, but I could see it coming for me. I was covered in sunscreen (SPF 4000 or something,) I had a hat and giant sunglasses to cover as much of my face as possible, but the clouds I had hoped for were nowhere in sight so it was to be “fun” in the sun for most of the run.
False flat and slanted path : As I turned around for the second quarter I realized that I had been going at a slight downhill for most of the section, but hadn’t noticed because of the wind. Now I would be going slightly uphill for most of the next quarter. And I was going directly into the the sun. Not a huge deal, not what I’m used to. I missed my usual flat path. Also, this path was slightly slanted on both sides which gave me an opportunity for new and different blisters and pain.
Blisters and pain: Sweet fluffy lord was I in pain, starting almost from the very beginning and getting worse throughout. It was only a mile more than I did last week but it was like a whole new world. Halfway through I felt like I had felt at the end of last week and I only halfway done, and was way, way off pace. The third quarter (when I had to turn around and go back into the wind) was just demoralizing. Walking on a tilt had irritated my left ankle, and my left foot was cramping almost the entire time, my right calf was cramping, both knees hurt which almost never happens, my back was killing me, and two of my toes were more blister than toe. By the last couple of miles I was changing my stride to try to recruit different muscles which resulted in new and different pain and soreness.
I had been using the trick of choosing short term goals (just get to that next water fountain a half mile away, just get to that tree a quarter mile away) but with a mile left I was really struggling even with those short term goals so I literally put my head down and just counted did 10 steps at a time.
I have a tendency to think that these long runs aren’t a big deal because I’ve done the full 26.2 miles, but the truth is that I walked all of that (including all the training,) and I walked it slowly. What I’m doing now with the run/walk intervals is much more difficult. In a lot of ways though shorter than my marathon, this run was physically harder. I didn’t quit. Of course there’s no shame in quitting, but in order to meet this specific goal I need to be able to be suffering and not quitting, and also going much faster than this. Still, another small victory on the road to the IRONMAN, and I’ll take it.
Planned Day Off
Bike – All Out Intervals
In some good news, I recovered faster from this week’s run than last week’s run (owing, I think, to the ice bath that now sits permanently under my desk so I can alternate icing my feet and ankles, and the cold showers followed by hot epsom salt baths as recommended by my massage therapist – it worked great with the bonus of tons of discomfort added to my downtime.) These bike intervals went really well.
Here are this week’s selfies: