For the past two Wednesdays, the team has been incorporating hill repeats into our training. What are hill repeats you ask? Well, let me fill you in. For 1 - 2 minutes, we run up a steep hill as fast as we can. Then we turn around and walk back down for 3 minutes. We repeat this 5 times and then we run for about 7 minutes after to cool down. This may not seem like much of a work out, but my knees would argue that point.
By Friday, I could barely walk. I had survived two weeks of this running / hills /running program. My body was trying to tell me something and I wasn't listening. "Ease back in to the training, you are killing yourself," my knees said. I just tried to keep going.
Saturday morning, the team was taking a bit of a break with a 6-mile run. This was the perfect opportunity for me to catch up! My running specialist, Jeff Waldberg, advised me to increase my mileage by 2 each week until I caught up to the team. This Saturday, I was to run 9 miles. I hobbled to the starting point and got ready to run. About 2 minutes into the run, I was in some serious pain. This wasn't like my ankle pain. This pain ran along the bone from my right knee, all the way down to my right ankle. My left ankle was also sore (I think I rolled it on Wednesday). What a mess! I resigned to walking and crying for the first 3 miles. I was far behind Brian and the rest of the team. To say that I was frustrated would be a huge understatement. I was PISSED! I was berating my body. "Why can't you do what I want you to!?!" Limp, limp...sniff, sniff.
At the turn around point, Brian was passing in the other direction and he ran over to join me. We walked together for a while. He offered words of encouragement and I listened. I tried like hell not to show the other team mates that I was crying. A few of them knew, but let me have my space to deal with it in my own way. We got to the bottom of the hill, which was to be the last mile for the team. I rested at the water spot while Brian ran ahead to conquer his hill. Rob, one of the fastest runners on the team asked me how I was:
Me: In pain
Rob: So quit
Rob: That's the spirit, I wasn't going to let you anyway.
Me: I have to walk. I can't run, it hurts too much.
Rob: So what are you gonna do about it?
Me: I'm gonna walk
Rob: Great, see ya when you get back.
This was just the attitude I needed to get me back in the game. Jeff told me that mileage was the most important thing. He said even if I have to walk, just get the mileage in and it will pay off. So I walked.
I was completely alone on the second lap. The trail seemed different without the team. I drew upon my determination and decided that crying was a waste of energy. I started speed walking. I thought of Wayne, the team's walking coach and tried to imitate him. He walks faster than some of the runners. I had so many doubts trying to overtake me. "Maybe they are right, maybe I can't run the full marathon...maybe I will be forced to do the half...what if I have to walk the whole 26 miles?!?" As I approached DeSoto (the turn-around point) all those thoughts evaporated with my sweat. I walked proudly to that pole and slapped it a high-five. Yeah I was walking it, but I was accomplishing my goal! (no matter how slow)
As I turned around, I saw Brian running up from a distance. He ran all the way up to find and walk with me. I knew it was all down hill from there. With Brian by my side, the walk back took no time at all! As we got closer I saw our coach, Brett, running up to join us. Almost everyone had left, but Brett came back to see if I was ok. While we were walking back he got a call from Susan, our team captain. She asked if I wanted her to pick us up in our car. A big "NO" resounded from Brian's and my mouth. I think Brett was a bit bummed at the idea of walking in the heat, but he stuck with us to the end.
At the water stop, I was met with cheering and applause from the few team mates that stuck around. I only went 8 miles, but it felt good to say I did it. I DID IT!
This week, I will be skipping hill repeats. I am hitting the gym for strength training and elliptical work outs. It's time for me to take my body seriously. NO MORE MESSIN' AROUND!
Saturday afternoon, Brian and I joined the team in a trip to the children's hospital. They treat children for all kinds of cancer there. Some of the team mates brought cookies and cupcakes. We brought arts and crafts. Seeing these kids really put things into perspective for me. Some of them were so sick, their parents seemed so tired. It was amazing to me that people have to suffer through this. What an honor it was to bring smiles to their faces. I felt a little uncomfortable at first, but as we met more kids I found my confidence building. Next time, I'm going to try to get coach Brett to wear a cupcake costume :-)
Next weekend, we will be in Arizona. I will be running my 11 miles on the tread mill at the gym. Stay tuned!