Sunday, April 03, 2005

I might be part fish--April 2

Saturday April 2 weather: raining cats, dogs, horses, camels, and zebras. Saturday's run: 3 hours!

On Thursday evening, Mike P. sent me my April running schedule, and I did a double take when I noticed that on Sat. 4/2, it said "3 hr."--not that I mind...but the longest previous run this year was 2 hrs. so I e-mailed Mike to make sure it wasn't a typo. Nope. Wasn't. But he did say to cut it short if I wasn't up to the 3 hrs. Well, no way was I going to cut it! I was going to meet this particular challenge!

Here's what happened:

I was stoked, of course, eager to try this three-hour run. But the weather forecast didn't look promsing for Saturday.

My first thought was to switch it to Sunday, then do on Saturday the 70-minute run scheduled for Sunday.

Since Friday was going to be clear and comfortable, I thought also of moving up the run to that day. But there wouldn't be enough time for that long a run. There was, though, time enough for 70 minutes of running, and so I chose that. Later the same day, I had a swim workout (the 3x a week schedule began this past week), but I didn't see that as being a problem--although I did notice that my swim workout was off, that I felt tensed up. Decided it was just a matter of becoming accustomed to a third workout. But my disappointment in how I performed made me want to reach further, find what was strong in me, recover my confidence.

On Saturday, thinking about the previous night's swim and about other life stresses, I got restless, felt the need to be outdoors, running--needed the time to be inside myself, thinking of nothing but the road ahead and how I was handling the distance and maybe whatever else came to mind, watching puddles grow into lakes, listening to the rain drops, smelling the wetness. My body asked me, "will you deprive me of all this?" I couldn't do that, so off I set, running to a track further away than the one I normally use (took a little over 50 mins. to get there...plan was to run a bit over an hour, then head home--seemed safer to be on the track in weather conditions like today's... abt. 90 mins. into the run, took a side trip to a nearby bike shop to buy a gel--and back for more running, then finally when my watch showed I had about 50ish mins. left, I started back home.)

During all this, the rain started in earnest, blowing directly into me, soaking feet finding every puddle, but oddly having this satisfaction that I was out there, just me and the elements, the wind, the hail, the track gleaming with water. When I arrived, there was one other diehard, but I didn't get a chance to say hello b/c he'd gone before I could catch up to him. So it was me and the track and the robins--and a Lone Ranger or Zorro mask I found (that I'll use somehow someday--but I took it as a good sign, reminding me of what was heroic and strong in me. The track turned out to be a perfect host for my run--there was a sheltered water fountain, so I took a sip or so every fifteen minutes and also once I'd bought the gel.

As for the rain, I kept telling myself, "it's only water! I swim in water all the time, why not run in it?" Sometimes it looked like it would get deep enough to swim in!

When the time came to go back, I was thinking, "what? So soon??" As I always say to Mike P., "I was just getting warmed up."

When I reached the park I'd run through earlier, there was a stream of water flowing down the hill. I'd run up that same hill without noticing anything riverlike. Now what I saw was almost a rapid. But I was able to sidestep it and head into the park, down what was previously a more easily runnable hill, now requiring stutter steps.... and then there was the playing field where I hopped, skipped, and jumped across puddles until I reached a soggy but runnable place, then more hop/skip/jumping at the next trail...finally reached pavement, water slicked and no place to expect dry footing (not that it mattered by then).

Then finally home! 3:02:19.

I'm not sure how many miles I covered, even on the track, b/c I wasn't really paying that much attention to the laps. But did notice that I was hanging in longer, feeling stronger, more relaxed than I had for some time on long runs.
Oddly, someone said to me earlier, "You're not going to run today, are you?" And I told him no, but later thought "why not?" And off I went. And although tired at the end and soaked and needing to get dried before the shivering set in, I felt pretty decent--even pretty excited that I could do this.

It was somehow something I needed to believe possible for me. I think I needed to know I could do the 3 hrs in challenging conditions! Sometimes you just need to know these things... Have the Broad Street Run, a ten-mile race, May 1. After today, it'll feel like a walk in the park!


Well, here it is, another few months, another update. You can see this blog gives you right up to the minute info! ;)

Since I last posted, I found myself involved in a masters' swim group. It was a slippery day, and I'd been in the Y for my run. Afterward, I saw a sign announcing that a masters' swim group was being formed. Without too much thought, I whipped out my pen and signed the list...with a question mark after my name, my one hedge. Later, I called the coach to get more information, to see if I was crazy for doing this, to see if everyone else was a super-competitive former college swimmer or experienced triathlete. Would someone who knew how to swim and had some running fitness be able to fit in? I was assured that I should be fine.

On the first day, wobbling out after 2000 yards, I wondered. But then as the weeks went on, I found I had more endurance, could swim a little faster (not to keep up with the real competitors, but feeling there was improvement.

And then, as it turned out, I had the chance to tell my story in the News of Delaware County. Here's a link to the March 16 article:

It happened that I'd asked the sports editor about another article, but told him that if that didn't work for him, I had recently started swimming with a local masters' group and perhaps he'd be interested in such an article. As it turned out, he was.

My original reason for joining the group was to help my running--it's done that and more! I enjoy both sports for themselves and notice that they seem to feed into each other. When I swim, especially the longer repeats, I notice that my running endurance makes a difference. Lately, I am faster with the kickboard, even passing someone I could never pass before. (But never mind. She keeps me humble when it comes to the rest of the workout.)

And I seem to recover faster from long runs and interval workouts, get less sore, have more stamina. All good! The next entry will give you an idea of how good.