The God of Speed does not look kindly upon his charges when they fail to give proper tribute at the sacrificial altar of fast. I knew I was going to pay for this insolence. I set out with the Nike+ app in “basic” mode. In other words, I wasn’t sure of how far for how long I could manage to go before passing out on the side of the road. Also, I decided since I hadn’t done shit in the past two weeks other than feeling sorry for myself that I might as well forgo all that athletic-looking pro-runner stretching stuff, too. I just pushed the play button and hoped I wouldn’t croak prematurely.
The first mile I did on the 1/3-mile jogging trail near my house. A big ominous-looking cloud colored darkly with the promise of an evening thunderstorm was looming overhead. I’m afraid of lighting. However, I was on a mission. Failure was not an option at this point in the game, since I had used up my allotment of #EpicFail about a week or so ago. I was going to do this, no matter what. The park was busy with people. Great. I’ll have an audience to this training disaster waiting to happen.
After two laps I had to run raceline visualizations through my mind to keep from quitting. My legs felt like lead, my side hurt, and I think I could hear the beginnings of the death rattle down deep in my lungs. Taking a mental vacation by putting myself on my favorite racetrack turning virtual laps usually makes me sort out my body alignment, sets my running pace and keeps me from hurting my left knee by letting my stride get sloppy. It also keeps my mind from noticing how boring and torturous this activity really is.
Once my body found its groove, things got a little easier, but not by much. After completing the first mile, I decided that I’d rather brave the impending rain storm than to have eye witness accounts of my collapse due to oxygen deprivation. I headed for the wooden bridge that marked the exit to the park and made off into town.
Just about before I reached mile marker 2, I had to stop and walk, because my lungs were on fire and I could barely breathe. I walked for 30 seconds. Downhill! The only reason why I made it up that dreaded godforsaken hill is because, again there were people out walking and I didn’t want to look like a complete poser in my compression tights and club racing t-shirt. I crested the top, and as soon as I was out of the line of sight, all bets were off. This girl’s gonna take a break while nobody’s watching. I felt awful. My breathing was labored, my pulse insisted on racing faster than a Hayabusa on a deserted stretch of straight road, my allergies were making my sinuses scream bloody murder, and my lungs felt like I had just hot-boxed a pack of Newports! I was a mess.
Last time I ran up this hill, I wasn’t even breaking a sweat, amazed at how easy it had gotten over just a few runs. Last time I also went on to run seven more miles. Last time the pollen count was also outside of my comfort zone.
I struggled through the last mile, paying close attention to my stride rather than my pace, wincing every time I heard my average pace announced. Give every run a boost? My foot! I’m a good minute slower than I used to be. I have no excuses.
What I have to do is up the mileage to make up for the distance I have cheated myself out of and not take any of the rest or cross-training days until race week. I’m not sure if that’s going to help my case at this point. I have only 19 days left until I have to line up for my half-marathon.
And that’s only the half of it. At this point in my marathon training, I’ll have to say that it is more likely for me to run a 2-minute lap at Road Atlanta than it is for me to finish 26.2 miles without thumbing a ride mid-race. And if you knew me (or rather my Road A lap times), you’d laugh and say… yup, this girl ain’t gonna to make it. 😉