Sunday, December 23, 2007

More is not always better! - Part 2

Well, it's true, "more is not always better". Running 20 miles is definitely more difficult than running 18. My friend Russ pointed out today that it's the more difficult runs that end up being the most effective, because you know that you did it - as bad as the weather was (e.g. - the Thanksgiving half marathon in the rain) or as bad as you felt (e.g. - my first 12 and 14 mile runs) - you made it. I've heard repeatedly that "if it were easy", everyone would be doing it.

I felt surprisingly good after the 18, with the slight exception of the vice grips on the top of my feet, which after 20, I now believe the hypothesis of the shoe laces being too tight was correct.

Let me back up just a bit. I wasn't nervous about the 20 at all - too many other things to think about and do. And, as I wrote earlier, I was definitely on an emotional roller coaster which was a great way to be preoccupied, so the anxiety about 20 didn't hit until Friday night - as I was trying desperately to find my running clothes, prepare my 3 AM snack "banana, sports drink, and a bagel", and load some new tunes on the ipod.

The temperature was in the mid to high 40's when we started Saturday morning, high humidity, and about 15mph winds. We were running in my neighborhood, so the probability of getting lost was pretty low (not entirely improbable, just low). I arrived on time, but things were just a bit off. I forgot my cell phone at home, I didn't have the timer on my watch pre-set... overall, I was just slightly left of center (or right, I can never remember).

When we started off, I was trying to set my watch and fell just a bit more behind. As usual, the first 20 minutes or so were brutal - but I had to sprint to loosen up my leg muscles - so I thought my energy level was good.

For the first 6 miles, I played tag with a fellow runner. We took turns passing each other every few minutes which definitely helped keep us on pace and made the time pass quickly. I was running a bit ahead of schedule even. Somewhere around mile 8 and the beginning of the "4 miles of hills", I felt exuberant. By mile 10 (halfway through the hills of hell), I was slightly less confident. By mile 12, I was losing momentum fast, but I still hadn't gotten lost (and even successfully fought the temptation to run the half mile to my house and quit).

I regained composure and focus around mile 14 - which was largely down hill. I pulled into mile 16 pretty strong and not quite to the "bite me" phase, although I felt it's seductive pull. By mile 18, I just wanted it all to be over and by mile 19, the lovely water stop person actually met me a few paces before the water stop. I think she saw my focused gaze, or glaze as the case might have been, and came to see if I was ok. I remember her saying, "I'm your last water stop, you're almost there, are you ok?" I don't know what I said in return. I just know that I had one last hill and I wanted it to be over.

So I went as quickly as I could up that one last hill - and when I saw Chuck standing there with a camera, before I crossed the street back to the parking lot. I even managed to sprint to the finish!

And then the soreness came.

My left foot, the back of my right knee, and my shoulders - and it felt difficult to breathe. I remember eating some banana bread and drinking some sports drink. Doug and Dominic were there to great me again and I remember driving home (no tears, no traffic violations, but it's definitely a fog). I also remember telling two of the walkers about the fabulous benefits of the ice bath.

Speaking of which, I definitely needed the ice bath, it hurt worse than I remembered it hurting in the past, but I managed to stay in for 10 minutes (largely because I couldn't move).

I remember eating a hamburger and laying on the sofa for the remainder of the afternoon. Doug and Dominic went outside for a bike ride around the neighborhood (it's roughly a 1 mile loop). They must have done at least a hundred loops, because when they returned about 30 minutes later, Doug had to take a nap. I think it was mostly a sympathetic nap, because he knew how exhausted I was. Either that, or he's really a social sleeper.

Dominic, on the other hand, was quite energetic. He crashed the fire trucks and every other vehicle he owns into eachother for hours. After the mass vehicular homicide, he switched gears and woke Doug up to help him with his play, "Mary and Joseph in the Stable". He cast theatric newcomers, Noah and Mrs. Noah (does anyone know if Noah's wife has a first name?) in the lead parts of Mary and Joseph. Although Noah seemed to take immediately to the stage, Mrs. Noah was a little more, um, well, let's just say, she turned out to be a little more high maintenance than anticipated. She kept calling the Stable "a box" and saying it was "too cramped". Then there was the whole bit about "why she couldn't go back to the Ark, where the accommodations were more to her liking ... there was the 46 inch 1080P plasma TV and the soft leather chairs, and lobster and filet mignon ... you get the idea.

And, don't get me started about the crocodiles ... apparently they kept wanting to eat the other animals in the cast (the pandas, and the giraffes, and especially the parrots). The lions were pretty safe, but the hippos were viable crocodile food as well. The crocs were just plain trouble with a capital "T". I'm fairly certain this is what sent Mrs. Noah over the edge. By the time she stormed off the set, Dominic was in fits of laughter (although I was still safely nestled in the bosom of the sofa, and half asleep, I believe Dominic was giving the stage direction to the crocodiles).

Anyway, after the theatrical induced hilarity subsided to a low rumble, we ordered pizza. After that, I called it a night (I believe it was about 8:13pm).

I felt a little soreness Sunday morning, which gradually lessoned as the day progressed. I had a 6oz steak, eggs, grits, and two biscuits for brunch (ala The Flying Biscuit Cafe) and made certain to mention to the server that I had run 20 miles on Saturday. (Somehow, I convinced myself that I needed to explain why I had ordered such a large meal ... which, by the way, I managed to devour every last morsel, plus an extra half of a biscuit).

When we got home, I was able to make a brief walk around the neighborhood with Doug and Dominic to deliver Christmas cookies to the neighbors. By the time we made a quick circle and got to our almost next to last stop, the Walkers, we went inside their house to warm up a bit and chat. I was completely done by the time we left - I didn't want to leave, I just wanted to sit down again and not have to get up!!!!

So here I sit, still trying to wrap my mind around my accomplishment and not try to think too much about the upcoming challenge ... 26.2 in 3 weeks.

Maybe another glass of wine will help!

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