Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Day of Focus, Falls and Freezing

As I train for this marathon I feel my body metamorphosing into a running machine. I have adapted quite well to the long distance running on the flats, and the hills have become my challenge. Fortunately our mid-week practice has made a shift to a different training style… hill repeats. What are hill repeats you might ask? Well they are exactly as they sound. We run up a hill for time frame set by our coach, and then walk back down the hill to the start. We repeat this five times. This was excellent conditioning, and I felt this throughout my entire lower body for the rest of the week.

Saturday came way too fast, and my body was still a bit sore from our new midweek regimen. I was excited though, and ready to conquer 12 miles. This was the last weekend we would see in a sequence of consecutive mileage increases. From this point forward we will have long mileage weeks alternated with short mileage weeks. I think I am ready for this.

Lake Balboa Park welcomed us with a vibrant pulse on this early Saturday morning. It was evident some serious mileage was about to be trampled out here today, and our team was ready. The gloomy haze over the morning sky told of cooler temperatures to come; a much welcomed relief to the ardent temperatures that typically accompany us.

As we charged off the starting line in our usual pace groups, I left my group behind to share this run with my Jamie. I was excited for her and wanted to be there when she completed her longest run yet. The pace was slower then what I was accustomed to, but it was good for me; it gave my mind the opportunity to really focus on my running form rather then “what the hell do I have to do to push myself through this?” This was important for me because I am battling the onset of shin splints. I got so consumed in my running form that I failed to notice a robust cobble crouched deviously in the middle of my path. I hit the ground hard, spraying dust all over my jersey. I tumbled it out, bounced back up and sprang back into my run. Jamie was horrified and determined that I was injured, but I pressed on and assured her that I was ok. We hit the six mile mark and the fork in our running path together. I pushed on to chisel away at my 12 miles and Jamie turned around to slam out her last mile. GO GET'M BABY!!

As we separated I felt my legs burst into an excited pace. I was pretty far behind from my pace group, and determined to shrink that distance as much as possible. I maintained a divided focus between my form and the goal at hand. The miles seemed longer with out Jamie, but were unmistakably shorter. I was passing fellow team mates and feeling a sense of accomplishment. It felt good to run hard and run long. My body now craves this, and without any remorse I dish it out. I passed through water stations taking in gatorade, water and an occasional snack. As I hit mile 9 I could feel the pains starting to settle in. I am growing accustomed to the pain, and am beginning to realize that this is just part of the training - we train to not only endure fatigue, but to endure the physical torture on our bodies.

I finished out my run a little under a mile behind my pace group and relished my victory. We hung around for a pot luck of carbs and fruit and then took off for home for icing and a nap. Our icing routine took a bit of a turn towards insanity today - as demented as this may sound, we took an ice bath. That’s right a tub filled with 20 pounds of ice and water. Our neighbors must have thought two girls were living next door. The initial shock was horrifying, but my body gradually thanked me for it. The following day I have never felt better, and I now plan to include this grotesque technique in my arsenal of recovery strategies.

Try and keep up with me...

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