...I still have a heart" - Veruca Salt
This was my mantra today. I wanted to do 3 laps of 8.5 miles out in Saguaro National Park East, but the weather and a crampy leg did not agree with my aspirations. I did manage to do two 8.5-mile loops, so total mileage = 17. Not too bad, but I was hoping to have a longer run before attempting 31 at Pemberton!
The day started out pretty well, although Johnny and I had our usual difficulty getting Ash out of the house early. It wasn't too warm, but the sun was pretty strong. The first four miles were fun. The trails out there are twisty-turny, roller-coaster trails, with lots of little ups and downs. As Mike said, they are soft trails - sometimes a little too soft! (Sand slog, anyone?) But the sun started to get very strong, and I bonked early. Too early! Four miles in?! Yikes!
I decided that I needed to view the run differently. I needed to remember that time on my feet was most important, regardless of the pace I was doing. I also decided that I needed to learn how to keep going when I feel that zapped. So I hiked my way back to J and Ash - my aid station at Mica View picnic area - and forced myself to keep moving through the crampy pain in my left calf. Once I made it back, J was great crew - refilling my empty bottles, giving support, encouraging me to do the full 8.5 for the next lap. (I didn't want to - I wanted to cut it short already!) He also made me refuel - because, once again, I wasn't wanting to eat. At least I wanted to drink!
I headed back out, and felt much slower. I had to walk so much! I managed a granny shuffle through some parts, but I was walking all the little ups, and even the flats and some downs. I was discouraged. Then I saw some beautiful clouds beginning to form. For some reason, just seeing the clouds - even without them coming near to the sun to give me shade - made me feel better. About halfway through the lap, the wind picked up, and the clouds actually started playing peek-a-boo with the sun. It was beautiful!
My leg was still killing me, and by this time, I was having GI problems. I had thrown up a little, and my stomach was really aching. I just kept going, with the above-mentioned Veruca Salt song running through my head. I realized that mentally and cardiovascularly, I could keep going quite a few miles more, but my crampy leg and stomach issues were holding me back. My mood started really improving in the last 2 miles - enough that I actually ran the last 1.6 miles! I pushed through the pain, and just enjoyed moving through the cactus forest with the sun behind clouds.
I made it back to J and Ash and collapsed at the picnic table. I don't want to push it and injure myself during training, so I didn't do another lap. My calf is still bothering me, even at home and after icing it. I can barely move it. I'm a little worried about it, but I think I'll be fine.
A turkey and ham sandwhich after the run tasted great, although I almost heaved it up - my stomach is taking it's time getting back to normal. I did the 17 miles in 4 hours and 24 minutes, including all breaks - which was quicker than last week's 14.75 in 4 hours, 38 minutes. But last week's included much, much more elevation gain.Dirty feet!
I'm a little worried about whether or not I'll be able to complete Pemberton, if my longest run to date is 17 miles - and it was hard. I know that I can beat the heat at Pemberton, because the aid stations are 5 miles apart. At each aid station, I'll dunk myself in water to help stay cool. Plus, it will be easier because there will be more people and more support. But I think it'll be a nail-biter: can I finish within the 8-hour cutoff time? And then, what happens if I don't? Will I crash into a dark depression? Will I just be glad that I attempted it? Will I get down on myself? Ack!
I kept thinking of Rae today, and how she's gotten something like three 20+ mile long runs in the last few weeks. It was so inspiring to read about how she was able to kick it in in the last mile or so, and go even faster! At the end of over 20 miles! I want that. I want to get there. I made a commitment to myself to get there this year. And every step I took today took me another step closer to that level of fitness. I just have to stay committed. Stay focused. Keep the judgement out of it - it was so cool to read Olga's stories of the 100 milers she's doing, and how she learned to let go of the judgement.
So this upcoming week is the last big week for me, then I begin tapering. The highlight of the upcoming week is the trip to San Diego that J and I get to take, courtesy of the world's greatest boss. It's to celebrate our 10 years together. We decided to spend one day just running around the area - from La Jolla to Torrey Pines State Beach, back down to La Jolla, then to Mission Bay. The point is to keep me on my feet for 8 hours. I don't know how many miles we'll get - the miles aren't really the point - but we will get at least 8 hours out there. I think it'll be fun - running tourists! So that will be my last big run.
I'm not sure how I'll handle the tapering process - it's hard to turn the "run drive" off. But I know tapering works - even though in my brain, it doesn't seem to "logically" make sense. I think I will try to relax, and enjoy the rest. Speaking of which, I think I'll go get a slice of fat-free brownie, top it off with orange sherbet, and watch the Patriots trounce the Jaguars...