Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Training Mishaps

It was in January that a crazy idea began to creep into my brain. Maybe I could run a marathon. I blocked out the memory of last year’s half marathon, which seemed really far at the time. I needed a big-time goal and I didn’t want to think I had done “half” of anything.

Through the summer I added the mileage, but my main focus was on triathlons. The swimming and biking provided great cross training, but it was tough to get in a long run on the weekend when I had a tri. I decided to cut my tri season short so I could focus on my marathon training. My last tri would be Hickory Grove on Aug. 29. This was a special race for me. I was traveling to the race with my friend, Brita, who would be doing her first race since beating breast cancer.

I was not healthy entering the race. I had been rehabbing a sore hamstring all week, I had a cold and fluid in my ear from an ear infection. I wanted to be there for Brita. As soon as I began the swim, though, I knew it wasn’t going to be a good day. My body felt very weak, like when you’re sick and the smallest activity can sap your energy. For the first time ever, I thought about dropping out of a race. Then I thought about Brita. She was out here racing after having gone through chemo! If she was tough, I had to be tough too. “Suck it up!” I told myself as I exited the water.

I got on the bike and before I even left transition I could feel my legs shaking. The bike course was three 5-mile loops so I told myself to just try the first loop and see how I felt. I got through one and then another. Soon I was off on the run.

I ran with another girl for awhile. I was running on the grass on the shoulder of the road. “Do you always run on grass?” she asked me. “I’m training for a marathon,” I said. “I’m just trying to save wear and tear on my legs.” Like those three miles would damage me. She wanted to walk so I left her behind. I turned onto the path leading back into the park. Just like my last tri, there was someone in my age group up ahead. I knew I had to find a way to beat her.

I pushed myself to get by her and for the rest of the race I fought to hold her off. I wasn’t feeling well, but if this was going to be my last tri of the season, I wanted to leave it all out there. I finally crossed the finish line and dropped to my knees, pouring water over the back of my neck. Ironically, it was Brita that picked me off the ground. I still felt lightheaded, but I rebounded after some hydration and food. I heard about how Brita had finished, her arms raised in triumph. That made it all worth it. We finished the day with some much-deserved ice cream!

If there is one thing I’ve learned in run training…I need a GPS! Either my mind wanders or I don’t really know where I’m going, but I find a way to get lost. My latest incident involved me running the New Bo Half Marathon course. I saw that the CVRA running club was doing a training run. I’m a member of the club, but I hadn’t really done any training with the group. I was looking to do 16 miles and they would have water on the course, so it seemed like an ideal situation.

I started out before the group so I could get a head start. The course started at the Chrome Horse, headed out on Otis Road and then got on the Sac & Fox Trail. The CVRAers caught up to me on Otis Road. I knew I couldn’t keep up with them and the last of their group passed me as we entered the trail.

I came to a fork in the trail and I didn’t see which way the group had gone. I looked, but I couldn’t see anyone. Now, metaphorically speaking, a fork in the road is when you make a choice that will affect your life. In this case, I made the wrong one. I headed down the trail. Were they that far ahead of me in such a short period of time? Where was that water stop? I had never been on this trail so maybe it loops around and that’s why I wasn’t seeing anyone else. Suddenly the trail just ended and I realized I had gone the wrong way. I looked at my watch. I was on mile 11, which meant it would be 22 miles to get back home! I wanted to cry. “There’s no crying in running!” I told myself.

Maybe someone would come back for me. What ever happened to leave no man (or woman) behind? This wasn’t the Marine Corps and I had to accept that no one would be looking for me and there would be no water stop. I was on my own. I headed back on the trail. I eventually got to the other end, but I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t want to waste any more miles so I walked up to a housing development.

I asked a guy how to get to Cedar Rapids. “Where are you from?” he asked. “Um, I’m from Cedar Rapids,” I replied. How embarrassing! “Oh, you’re about 8 miles from town,” he said. My heart sank. I was tired, dehydrated and about ready to hitchhike. Fortunately, the eight miles turned out to be four, but my body was not prepared for 22 miles. I was one hurting unit.

Note to self…know where you are going and how to get there!