June 2007 Archives

Changes

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I don’t know where to begin.

My life changed this week. It took a direction I never thought it would take. I’m in shock. I’m trying to deal with it as best I can. I’ve been through worse; I can make it through this. (At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.)

It would be nice if all the slightly irritating things in life would stop, though. Things like locking myself out of the house, my car dying on me at the bank, the air conditioning going out at work, my computer going down. Really, isn’t one major crappy event enough for one week? Do I really need to deal with all the minor stuff too?

Okay, I’m done whining. Sorry.

Due to the changes occurring in my life, I can no longer go to Oregon next month; I won’t be running at the PCT 50k. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do the marathon in September.

I am angry; I am sad; I am grieving. This isn’t how I imagined things. This isn’t what I wanted. I am wondering what will happen, what my future looks like.

I am focusing on the outpouring of support I have received this week. From Kiera and C, to my friends, coworkers and next-door neighbors, the amount of hugs and comforting words has overwhelmed me. I am grateful to be surrounded by such incredible people.

I try to remind myself: life isn’t about what happens, it’s about how I move through what happens. I’ll get through this. And I’ll get through it in my best possible way: with graceful strength, mindful courage.

I rock.

***
So, I wanted to just leave it at that, but me being me, I can't :) As Ash would say, "I have so many words in my tummy!"

The last time I ran 8 miles before work was probably January 2006. And I've never ran more than 8 miles before work. I'm pretty darn proud of myself.

Not only did I do it, but my pace averaged 11:30/mile, including breaks while waiting for signals to change and for stopping to refill my water bottle twice.

The 21 oz of PowerBar Endurance drink, 32 oz of water and one serving of margarita Clif shot blocks helped. (I first tried the margarita flavor on Sunday's 16.5 mile run. I pulled the package out of my pack and my stomach turned thinking of putting alchol-flavored gunk in my mouth. But I popped one in anyway, and my goodness, it was fantastic! Definitely my favorite flavor.) Outkast's "Hey Ya" also helped. Thank goodness for the water fountain on campus, and next time I need to remember to bring my debit card. I found myself wanting to stop and get cold fluid at one of the many stores I passed. I'm so not used to running in the urban jungle. I'm more used to being stuck out in the wilderness!

I'm not sure how much running I'll get from Friday to Sunday - I've got lots of plans, between C's birthday and Ash. Kiera and I still have not figured out if we are running Saturday morning. Maybe I'll be able to pull myself out of bed on Sunday morning and run 8 to 10 miles. (After Saturday night's big bash?! I don't know about that...) The problem is that it's over 100 now every day here in the desert. In order to run long, I have to get up at 5 am. Short runs in over 100-degree heat don't bother me, but I don't want to go for 8 to 10 miles at 10 am on Sunday morning when it's approaching 100.

So I'm debating. Sleep in after a night of revelry or get up and run? (Don't answer that. I know what y'all are thinking.)

****
Olga and I had some discussion after my last post regarding training. I think I'll just copy and paste...

Her comment:
"OK, I had to scroll back and read your whiny little things about DNF at MY race. hello! Who's gonna let you? Seriously, first of all you do know finishing an ultra is mental. You did your first on what, 16M longest run? Now you even know what to expect and how to handle it. Besides, are you planning to like place high or run for experience and a personal test? So set out with a clear plan at what pace you want to have run breaks and at what intervals you have your walk breaks, and that's it. Say you want 7 hrs, split in 2 (just because back is more downhill, otherwise I'd suggest 15% on second half), and make it work, stick with it, and enjoy! Now later after whining you went and had a great long run - so the previous post is negated by me:) Now tell C. to get a book and drive you to Sabino canyon, get 3 more runs of 4-5 hrs and you're set. Don't look for excuses, look for motivations. remember how great it felt to finish the last 2 50k's."

My response:
"HAHAHAHAHAH! Who will let me, indeed. I heard Eric and Michelle will be there too. There's no way y'all will let me DNF. I was wondering what your response would be to that!

Yes, I did my first on 17 miles as my longest run. But I also injured myself that day and I don't want that to happen this time, because I want to run that marathon in the fall. No plans to place at all, only to finish. I even have A/B/C goals:
A. Finish under 8 hours
B. Finish in 10 hours
C. Crawl to the finish line by 12 hours

I was trying to figure out what I wanted my desired pace to be. I think if I start out attempting to average 4 miles per hour, I should be finish at just about 8 hours, and I shouldn't hurt myself.

I know I'll get one more run of 4-5 hours on Sunday the 24th. I was thinking of heading out on Sunday July 15 for 3-4 hours as my last long run before tapering – that only gives me a two-week taper though. It's hard to fit long runs in around when I have Ash. Not sure I'll get three more long runs, but I know I'll get two."

Her response:
"2 weeks taper is enough. 2 more runs will also better than none and will put you at mental ease. 4 mph is a good pace to start with. You can do it!"

That's right. I can do it. And I will.

Imagine going for a long run, a long painful run, a long painful run that leaves you hobbling, barely able to walk, grimacing as you move your legs to manuever the pedals of your car as you drive home. Imagine waking up the next day to absolutely no soreness whatsoever, no need for Ibuprofen to take the pain away. You are able to hop out of bed, walk into work with a smile on your face and spend the day springing out of your office chair with nary a groan or moan.

It's bliss, I tell you. Pure bliss.

And I give full credit to the two-bag ice bath in which I sat for a good 20 minutes on Sunday afternoon.

(Good news: I realized I'm in my "monster month." I am not sore after my long run on Sunday. I have only a few weeks left before tapering. I can do this; I can get up early for a month to get in 8 to 10 miles before work and get 30+ miles per week for the next few weeks. Totally. By the way, last week was my first 30+ mile week since S&S 50k last June. It took a year and a lot of mumbling and grumbing, but I did it. I'm actually quite psyched. Not only did I get 30+ miles last week, but I'm not sore. I love seeing results.)

(Oh, yeah, and darn Olga gave me an itch to run Bighorn 100. Dammit! After I've vowed for two years to never run an 100! I don't know how or when, but I want to.)

After being greeted with, "Lookin' good!" and "Doin' great, keep it up!" within the first mile of the Sabino road, I began to wonder: Do I really look that bad?!

I began the morning early by waking at 4:05 a.m. After quickly preparing for the 16-mile run I had planned, I headed out to my car, worried about the battery and hoping I wouldn't have to call C to come give me a jump. Thankfully, the car started.

As I got out of my car at Sabino, I recognized a familiar face across the parking lot; fellow trail runner, fantastic volunteer/aid crew and all-around great person, Bob. He was heading out for two trips up-and-back on the road; I had planned to do Seven Falls followed by the road. He looked strangely at my hair, and I remembered that I had dyed it bright red the night before (it's much more red than orange this time and I absolutely LOVE it). At 5:08 a.m., after wishing each other good luck, I took off.

The first 8.25 miles to Seven Falls and back was uneventful. No one was out on the trail; I was the first human to arrive at Seven Falls this morning. It was warm already, even though the sun hadn't risen, and I appreciated the cool pockets of air tucked into side canyons. I felt great.

When I reached my car, I realized I hadn't started my watch back for the way down, but had looked at the time, so I knew I did it in 2:10, which is just about normal for me. I took a seven-minute break to change my shoes from my heavy Montrail Hardrocks to my much lighter Sauconys and use the restroom. I had been hydrating with a combo of water and nuun, and was pleasantly surprised to see my fingers had not yet swollen, which was strong testimony for nuun.

Ready, set, go - it was about 7:30 or so and time to do the 7.5-mile out-and-back on the road. I knew I had already done Seven Falls, but I didn't think I really looked so bad as to garner two separate peoples' encouragement! I appreciated it, or at least, tried to appreciate it. It's hard when folks think you look like you need encouragement only one mile into your day's run, yet you know you are (most likely) doing more than they are doing, and have already completed over half of your run!

Boy, does that tell you where my mind was at! Instead of viewing their comments positively (yay! people are encouraging me!), I was taking them negatively. I've been dealing with a stressful situation with a person whom I don't get along with (a person who seriously dislikes me), and it's been wearing me down. I'm having a hard time seeing the positive in any part of my life, and when I get like this, my brain starts finding the negative in everything. I start seeking out reinforcement from other areas in my life to back up why I am such a horrible person not worthy of anything: I eat too much, I weigh too much, I'm not training enough, I'm not nice enough, I'm not understanding enough, I'm not tactful enough, I'm too prickly, I'm too cranky, I'm too pissy, etc.

I had bad dreams last night, (eww alert!) dreams of being pursued and shot at, dreams of pushing dead bodies out of the way while I swam through a sewage treatment plant, running for my life. I'm seriously upset about this personality conflict situation and I don't know what to do or how to handle it.

So I started mulling things over. Well, first, I had to run a bit with Bob who was coming back down the road, then I had to talk to a project partner who was coming down the road, and then wave hi to another guy from our trail running group. I also spotted someone from C's soccer team, but we were separated by trees and couldn't really say hi. It was such a friendly morning!

Okay, back to the mulling things over. As my legs went numb and I tried to block out the pain of a long run - pain I hadn't experienced in quite some time - I remembered that I have choice. I can choose how I want to move in this situation. I started thinking about who's opinion of me matters most, and after running off a few different people's names in my head, I remembered - mine! My opinion of me is the only one that matters! I'm not going to base my value or worth on what other people think of me. I'm going to base it on what *I* think of me. I'm not going to rely on other people to make me feel valuable or worthy or okay, because I can't! Only *I* can decide I want to feel valuable or worthy or okay. My feelings are my responsibility. This other person's feelings are their responsibility. I hit the turnaround in the road, experiencing deja vu as a cyclist passed me for the second time. Then I headed back down the hill and picked up my train of thought again.

Another part of my responsibility is to act in a way that I feel maintains my integrity. And honestly? I don't think I have. I think I have contributed to making the situation worse by acting in a passive-agressive manner and doing things that I knew would most likely provoke the other person - part of what was making me feel so miserable and bad.

I decided I wanted to feel better. I decided I would have compassion for myself regarding the way I have acted so far, and I decided I wanted to change the way I've been dealing with this situation. Instead of reacting to this person, I decided I was going to act of my own accord (act according to my pink fuzzy). I decided to choose a word to define how I wanted to act. I chose "grace." By this time, my legs were really starting to hurt - in a good way - and I was having difficulty running. It was pretty much flat to downhill, but my legs just didn't want to move. I was about 14 miles into the run, and knew I was almost over. So I decided to use "grace" as a mantra to keep me going. Well "grace" turned into "grace and mindfulness" which turned into "grace, strength and mindfulness" which turned into "graceful strength, mindful courage."

Graceful strenth, mindful courage: this is how I want to approach all areas of my life. Running, parenting, romantic relationships, friend relationships, work relationships. Most importantly, this particular stressful situtaion. It won't get resolved overnight, or even this week or month, but as long as I maintain graceful strength, mindful courage, I will get through this situation in my best way possible. It won't be easy or fun or nice. It will definitely be hard and I will have to "speak up, even if my voice shakes" (saw that on a bumper sticker). I want to have dignity, treat this other person with respect and compassion, and remember to do the same for myself. I am not perfect; however, I am aware and I know how I want to be. I will never stop striving to have graceful strength, mindful courage in all aspects of my life - while remembering that I am human and it's okay if I don't have graceful strength, mindful courage all the time.

Drenched in water to keep myself cool, I was within a half-mile of the finish. While it could not be considered a sprint, I certainly upped my speed and ran a decent pace to the visitor's center where I arrived at 9:16. In 1:46, that was definitely the slowest I've ever ran the road! I decided I needed a cool-down, plus I wanted some extra distance, so I walked a ways out on the dirt road that starts the trek to Seven Falls. While walking, I calculated the distance and realized that with my cooldown, I did a total of 16.5 miles today; the farthest distance I have gone since June 10, 2006 (Sugar & Spice 50k). How exciting!

I'm pretty sore, but not too bad. I'm savoring the feeling of satisfaction that comes with a great long run with plenty of time to mull things over and my favorite breakfast at a local coffeeshop: tofu scramble, roasted red potatoes and wheat toast.

(But first, someone found my blog by googling "3 mile run in 90 degree heat, is it safe?" I'd like to address that. Yes, it's safe, provided: 1. you are heat trained (or heat training), 2. you aren't doing speedwork, 3. you dump water on your head/body, 4. you are well-hydrated, 5. you pay attention to your body's signals and know when to quit. I've done much longer runs in the heat and know of many ultrarunners who run even longer distances in much hotter weather. Yes, it's safe. But be careful.)

My "duh" moment stayed with me yesterday morning, and I got up and went out for another 5.2 miles. This gave me 13.8 miles in the first three days of the week, which is pretty fantastic for how I've been going. Those 5.2 were very slow miles - on asphalt, I average 13-minute miles. I haven't been that slow since I started running two years ago! I blame it on not topping my glycogen stores properly the night before (a short, but hot, run) and not having enough PowerBar Endurance drink with me while I was out running that morning. I just didn't have enough fuel!

I realized last night that my body was not sore. I was surprised by this; I felt like I should be sore, after running 14 miles over three days after last week's run/hike at the Grand Canyon (photos are up!). It dawned on me that I was doing two things: 1. doing yoga to help my body recover, and 2. actually getting in shape! (Or maybe it's because I was so slow...)

If I were able to continue slowly building my base (in other words, if I didn't have a 50k looming next month), I think I would safely and in good time prepare my body well for the upcoming fall marathon Kiera and I have registered for.

Alas, I registered for the 50k and bought my plane tickets that fateful week this past February. The week I decided I wasn't going to date, so I would have plenty of time to prepare. The week I decided on a whim to go along with my friend's spur-of-the-moment invite to a party. C walked in the room, our eyes met, and the rest was history. Granted, my general laziness plays a much bigger factor into the whole not-ready-for-my-race thing, but I like the our-eyes-met-and-the-rest-was-history story better.

I wrote in a comment on someone's blog recently that I was anticipating a DNF at the 50k. I started thinking about it in the shower yesterday morning. Anticipating a DNF?! Isn't that like setting myself up for self-fulfilling prophecy? I was incredulous at the fact I wrote that, and even more so at the fact that I actually *was* preparing myself for that. Going into it as a training run for the marathon, thinking that if I went for 20 to 25 miles, it would be a great long run in preparation for the other race. But doesn't that de-value the whole experience?! Isn't the point of registering for a race to see if I can go the distance?! That seems almost disrespectful to go into knowing I wouldn't run the whole thing. I started feeling that I would be letting the volunteers down, letting the race directors down, taking up space in a filled-up race knowing I wasn't going the whole distance. Doesn't that just seem selfish? But then I thought, isn't the whole idea of training that much and racing that far kind of selfish anyway?

I decided I was uncomfortable pursuing that train of thought, and I washed it out of my hair and down the drain along with the foaming lather of the shampoo and turned to shave my legs instead.

I bring it back up here specifically for debate, for talk. I still don't know how I feel about it. I still don't know if I will push myself to go the distance, even if I end up hurting myself too much to recover well for the marathon. I feel like I would rather save myself for the marathon; I care more about that race - it's my first marathon distance, it's with Kiera after I begged her to do it with me.

What do you think? How do you approach racing? Distances?

I had sort of a "duh" moment this evening when this thought occured to me as I arrived at home after work, struggling with not wanting to run. What a concept!

So I went out and ran 3.4 miles. It was 92 degrees, I was hot and thirsty and not prepared and spent the majority of the run breathing hard through a lower abdomen side stitch sort of pain. But I ran. And I enjoyed it!

I got five miles last night. My calves were still hurting from last week's Grand Canyon run. Last night's run was gorgeous: completely overcast, slight sprinkles, cool breezes. I didn't realize I had left my iPod shuffle on, draining the batteries, until I put it on. So I went old-school, sans music. I enjoyed the feeling of my body moving through space, floating over the grass and dirt and asphalt of my neighborhood. And the Pei Wei dinner afterward was fanTAStic!

I finally got to talk to Ash today. He'll be home early - he should be home tomorrow night! I've missed my baby boy.

PS I was tagged by e-rod to list six weird things about me.

Here goes:
1. I don't wear make-up (and I spent years not shaving my legs - at least the hair was blond so you couldn't really see it - and then a couple years not even shaving my armpits. I also went sans bra, and tried to fashion my hair into dreds. The dreds didn't really work. Yes, I was a neo-hippy. But without the requisite trust fund. Like the dreds, didn't work real well.) (Does that count as more than one weird thing?)

2. Comfort dominates my life choices. I won't wear clothes, shoes or jewelry that is uncomfortable. I don't care how cute it is, if it hurts or even irritates me, I won't wear it!

3. I bite my nails and refuse to stop.

4. I am a staunch feminist, yet I love romance novels (although I refuse to read "bodice-rippers," and the heroines must be as strong as the heroes; even better if I can find one that reverses the gender roles), and Glamour magazine.

5. I don't eat fruit (except for apples).

6. I sing. Constantly. Even though I don't sing well. At the office. In my car. At home. At other people's homes. While I run. But not in the shower. Ever tried to sing in the shower? You get water all in your mouth. Doesn't work real well.

Okay, now I'm supposed to tag six other people. Ummm... Steph, Chad, Renee, Alia, Pat, and Eric.

In the days following my epic run/hike on Wednesday, all I could say was, "Do you KNOW what I did?" I found ways to drop it into every. single. conversation. It drove C nuts (okay, so that motivated me to keep finding ways to bring it up *grin*). Eating almost an entire pizza by myself: "Do you KNOW what I did today?" Wanting ice cream immediatly after eating almost an entire pizza: "Do you KNOW what I did today?" Limping, moaning and groaning: "Do you KNOW what I did yesterday?" Taking the elevator instead of the stairs: "Do you KNOW what I did?"

12.2 miles. 3220 vert ft of elevation gain. 4.5 hours. A description can be found here, along with the recommendation of allowing 7.5 hours to hike it.

I didn't think I could do it that quickly. I mean, I'm out of shape, and this is steep stuff. It's the freakin' Grand Canyon. It's amazing.

I started at the top of Bright Angel Trail, with the hopes of running all the way down to Plateau Point, 6.1 miles away. I launched myself off the top and started the long jog down. It was fun passing people and seeing the look of surprise on their faces. I overheard a number of comments, such as:
1. She won't be doing that for very long.
2. She's jogging?!
3. How far are you going?
4. Way to go!
5. You are in great condition!
6. Wow!

I liked the way how this trail was broken up: 1.5 mile resthouse, 3 mile resthouse, Indian Gardens at 4.6, then Plateau Point at 6.1. Each segment is approximately 1.5 miles apart, which made nice targets. I did each 1.5-mile segment on the way down in about 23 minutes. I got stuck behind one mule train, wishing I had brought a bandana to cut down on dust. The guide was very nice about pulling all his folks over so I could pass (mule trains have the right of way). I took my time at Plateau Point, taking lots of photos. Ran back up to Indian Gardens, where I took my time refilling my camelback, switching out my gel flasks and using the restroom. I eavesdropped on folks talking about having seen someone running the day before rim-to-rim. He had no body fat and was probably in his mid-forties. "Yup, ultrarunner for sure," I thought to myself. I overheard someone say, "If you can make it up from here in three hours, you are in amazing shape." Immediately, that became my goal :)

I started the hike back up, telling myself I just had to make it up to 3-mile resthouse. 1.5 miles, that's it. Just think about that. I hit the "go button" inside and kept the "petal to the metal" and just went. I decided to channel Olga, who is a strong hiker. She moves her arms side to side and just plows on ahead. I made it to 3-mile resthouse in 45 minutes, shocking myself. Way to go! I then immediately attacked the next segment. This 1.5 miles was so hard. I was bonking and tired and didn't want to keep moving. It was hard to keep the go button pressed. I had to stop and sit - my first sitting-down rest on the whole trip - for about 5 minutes. I got back up and started walking again. I was very tired and was having a hard time mustering up the energy to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I tried to channel Olga again, and I also reminded myself that in most ultras, this hill would be just one of many. I consoled myself with the fact that I only had to do one hill. I started dreaming of a cheeseburger and cherry coke, and then tried to *not* think about the food afterwards; I wanted to save that for the last 1.5 miles. So I promised myself dreams of food once I hit the 1.5-mile resthouse. Somehow, I made it there in 43 minutes. So even with the 5-minute break, I was still going fast (for me anyway!). Just past the 1.5-mile resthouse, I passed a group of backpackers going up. A few minutes later, I could hear them gaining on me again. No way, I thought. There's no way I'm going to get passed by them on the last 1.5 miles! That, combined with my full-on dreams of food, kept me going, going, going on the last 1.5 miles. All the sudden, there were many tourists around, and I had to dodge them to keep moving. I was determined. I realized I had a chance to finish by 1 pm (I had initially told C I'd be done by about 2:30, possibly later if I had a bad day). I was almost there. Could I make it by 1 pm? I looked ahead at the switchbacks and gauged my pace. It would be close. I thought maybe I could finish by 1:03. But 1 pm on the nose? Not sure.. I ran the last 20 feet, and finally - in 45 minutes from 1.5-mile resthouse, and at 12:59:41 pm, I topped out. I did it! Not only that, but I ran the whole way down, some of the way up, and I did the last 4.6 from Indian Gardens in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

I spent a few hours at Bright Angel, eating a hot dog, drinking cherry coke, eating ice cream (do you KNOW what I just did?!) and reading, until C was done with his work.

The next day, I hiked just over 5 miles along the Rim Trail from Hermit's Rest. I wanted to do the whole 8 miles (at the time, I thought it was 7 miles) from Hermit's Rest to Bright Angel Lodge, but by 5 miles, I was done. I don't usually go out the day after a big run/hike; I like to rest. I was glad I went out and did something, but it was a pretty miserable 5 miles, even with ibuprofen in me. I was tired! I also got somewhat lost. The trail generally stays along the rim, between the rim and the road to Hermit's Rest. At one section, both the trail and the road veer away from the rim. I ended up losing the trail. I was a little worried about this, but knew I was still between the rim and the road so I couldn't *really* get lost. But yes, I was scared! I found the trail a little while later and all was well. Once I hit the shuttle stop just over 5 miles, I thought to myself, "screw this! I'm done!" and took the shuttle back to Hermit's Rest where I got to finish my book (I borrowed Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes from the library) and rest next to the gigantic fireplace while C finished up. Then we drove out to go see the Watchtower, a neat building at the other end of the park, built by the famous architect who also built Hermit's Rest. That evening, I spent in the hot tub at the hotel. Damn, I was still so sore!

The next day, we drove up to Page to go see Antelope Canyon, which was spectacular. I was still limping, but I did okay. Then we drove down to Flagstaff, where we ate at my favorite restaurant, Mountain Oasis. It was 10 pm by the time we were done, and we didn't really feel like driving the four hours back to Tucson that late. We spent awhile trying to find a decently priced hotel room, and finally we did. I was exhausted and slept so hard! We drove home yesterday, making a stop in Scottsdale to lie on the world's dreamiest mattress. I fell asleep last night at 6:30 pm and slept for 12 hours. Guess I was tired!

My legs are doing okay, although my calves are still hurting. My hip didn't hurt nearly as much on this trip as it had been; it was mostly my calves and shins from that steady uphill. I want to go to yoga this morning, and then just relax. I have to dive back into work tomorrow morning with a 2-hour drive to Phoenix for a client meeting. I'm feeling a little worried about this week - I am feeling emotional and definitely missing Ash. He won't be back till next Sunday! I know I'll be fine, but I know it's going to be hard. My heart hurts; I don't like being away from him for this long!!!

My camera decided it didn't want to read my memory card about halfway through the trip, uh-oh! I'm hoping to get it figured out so I can get some pics up soon.

PS If you have not read this yet, you should.

It's hot out. It's hot and I'm tired because I didn't sleep much the night before. I haven't started the race yet but I'm sore and wondering if getting up early enough to go to a yoga class with Elaine was worth it. The yoga class was fantastic - I'd never been to that studio or in a class with that teacher, and I loved it - but Elaine requested backbends and now my back is killing me. And my shoulders. And I haven't started running yet.

C pulls my ring finger out of my mouth, where the nail was firmly entrenched between my teeth. I grab the steering wheel hard and try to concentrate on finding a parking spot. Although I come downtown relatively often for client meetings and to attend my normal yoga classes, I'm not that familiar with the streets. We find a spot and I manage to get my car parked without hitting anyone. I slump over in relief and C laughs at me.

We hoof it over to La Placita, where we attempt to find the starting line. Instead, we find Mike, setting up a PA system. When I ask where the starting line is, he points to a line of masking tape I am standing on. Well, then, I guess we found it.

We follow the sound of live music to find the runners milling around a courtyard. I search for a restroom, then wait nervously for the start of the race. I'm not saying much, I'm too nervous. The nervousness set in about 45 minutes before, a sudden surprise of anxiety. I had forgotten about this race, I wasn't worried about it this week, I wasn't putting much into it. It's hot, I'm recovering from being sick, it's hot, I haven't run much, it's hot, I don't know the course, and did I mention it's hot?

Runners pour through narrow breezeways back over to the starting line and I search out a spot in the back. I can't hear the speaker at the front. I am surprised to see a man wearing a shirt that says, "Blind Runner" on it. I think that's fantastic and smile as the crowd starts moving forward. I attempt to start running around walkers and slow joggers and we get bottlenecked trying to make it through the village and out through El Presidio Park. I am dodging slower runners and attempting to gain some ground here while I am still relatively fresh. We head into the Presidio neighborhood, full of small historic homes. Heat is eminating from the newly paved roads and I am hot. Where's the water? I need water.

We thread our way back over to La Placita, and finally there is water but it's in tiny cups and get just a sip, not enough. I know we are close to where we started and am hoping C is nearby so I can throw him my visor. It's too hot to have anything on my head, and the sun is setting behind tall buildings; I don't need it. I am searching the people lining the course; is he there? Finally, I see him, with the camera, ready to take my picture. I hear him say, "Go Angie!" as I toss my visor. We head behind the Tucson Convention Center, and into the south loop of the course.

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Small adobe homes line the streets, leaning on each other for support. Doorways are open and people are sitting on their porches, cheering us on. Wild turkeys chase us as we turn a corner. I ask the people standing there, "Are they meant to make us run faster?" and they laugh at me. I am really hot now, and cannot take deep breaths. I am hacking - damn this chest congestion - and I have to walk for a short distance. My hip is hurting, I am worried about the pain. There is no breeze, it is stifling hot and I can feel it inside me, building.

Finally we turn into the breeze, and start heading back towards downtown. The sun is setting behind periwinkle clouds, a soft pastel sunset with pink and orange smeared across the horizon. The breeze gives me hope, lifts my spirits. I look at the tall buildings downtown, I see the brightly colored buildings of La Placita in the foreground and I smile. My hip hurts, nm body aches, I am overheated and I am happy. I love living in Tucson, I love being a part of this vibrant city, and I love partaking in a rare downtown race.

Finally I reach the last corner, where folks are just standing there, quietly. I move my hands up, up, in a sign of "cheer for me" and the crowd makes noise. Thank you, I needed that! I turn the corner and there's the finish. I kick hard and hear C yelling, "Go Angie!" and I cross the line in 33:46. I think I'm going to vomit, I left everything I had out on the course, and still I only managed 33:46. I care, but I know I'm coming off being sick, I know it's hot, I know it's a slow course. So I don't mind too much.

There is lots of food from downtown vendors, I eat brownies and pizza and pepsi and cookies. I chow down while we talk with Mike and players from C's soccer team. It is fun, a great community, I love being out and about with people. We finally head over to the Fox Theatre for the awards and raffle. I cheer for Jason who won the race, and Mike who won his age group (even though he was "taking it easy"). Finally they start the movie - Chariots of Fire - and I realize that I cannot understand a word anyone is saying on screen. The accents are thick (I usually have to use closed captioning on my tv at home to watch British movies, that's how bad my ears are), and the sound is not great. After 20 minutes, I ask C if he minds if we head home. I am tired and sore and frustrated because I cannot understand what anyone is saying. It's like watching a foreign film without the subtitles.

Once home, I lie across the bed. I am tired, exhausted. It was fun but I am cranky because I used up all the energy I had and my hip is bothering me. There is no way I can run 13 miles on the mountain the next day.

I enjoyed this race - it was fun. But tiring.

UPDATE
After a depressing bout of swimsuit shopping on Sunday (I did manage to find a good suit after two hours of sweaty shopping and trying on about 50 different pieces (much to the fittin room attendant's chagrin)), I headed out for 7.75 miles on the Sabino Canyon road. It was hot, but not as hot as the last time I was out there. Besides, the heat means I get warmed up quicker, right? :) I went slow (avg pace 13:29/mile), and I was sore, but it was a good run. Smelling the sun-baked desert, ducking my head under water faucets, feeling my body move - fantastic. I walked the last .75 as a cool down, which I think contributed to my legs feeling okay this morning. I wanted an ice bath to help my hip, but I wasn't able to. Oh well.

Packing tonight and then a quick run tomorrow morning before we head to the Grand Canyon!

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angie's essence...as explored by trail running (and mixed-media art)

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