Sunday, April 21, 2013

in april on salty failure

On Friday I had the worst run of my life.  I went up to Yankee for 2 loops to get me to 22 miles and I wish I hadn't.

I have no idea why I continue to go to Yankee alone (I never have bad experiences when I go with people, only when I'm alone) when all I've had are the worst runs up there.  Hindsight (with it always being 20/20), a lot of things were wrong.  It was 32 degrees, first of all.  I hibernated all winter because I don't deal well with the cold.  I got a gym membership and a trainer because I hate running in the cold that much.  I had a cotton t-shirt on and a light longsleeve quarter zip over.  Before you all go "oh my god, I can't believe she was running in cotton.  What was she thinking?" just shut up.  Shut up about your moisture-wicking tech tees and how you can't believe anyone runs in cotton anymore.  People in the 80s were running in cotton tees and jean shorts and laying down faster times than you are in your $50 shirt.  Stop thinking your clothing is making you faster and that much more comfortable.

I started the run eating an apple.  I was thinking "wow, this is great training, to learn to run and eat at the same time."  After about a half mile I threw it over my shoulder.  Just got sick of carrying it.  At mile 3 I was battling some kind of low I've never experienced before.  I took a gu and bounced back for awhile until I started plummeting down again.  I slowed down and assessed myself.  What the fuck was happening?  Feet?  Fine.  Ankles?  Solid.  Calves?  Fine.  Quads?  Fatigued, but fine.  I gave up assessing after that because I couldn't concentrate enough.  I stopped.  I stared at a tree and pictured myself shattering its bark with the mouth of my water bottle over and over and over.  I kept walking.  I started running again and my heart rate jumped.  I felt it in my throat and I felt it in my temples.  My breathing was wrong.  I couldn't breathe right.  What the fuck is wrong with me?  What is this?  This is the worst run in the entire world.  This is me failing.  I am failing right now.  I ran some more.  I stopped.  I walked.  I stopped again.  I sat down.  I kicked a rock.  I got up and started to run again and fell.  I got back up and it started to rain.  Then it started to snow.  I got to a ridge and a cold wind roared in front of me and I braced myself for it.  It ripped through my waffle-textured outer layer and through my cotton shirt.  I stopped and started to cry.  Here I was, training for a 100 mile race, and at mile 9 I fell the fuck apart.  I ran/walked the last 2 miles as fast as I could back to the car, thinking about how much I hated myself right then.  This is usually when people will be like "good for you, you finished strong!"  That's not strong.  Thanks for the pity, but no thanks.  I got into my car, shivering and numb fingers, and while it was warming up I put my face in my right palm and sobbed.  After about a full minute I wiped the snot and tears with the back of my hand and realized there was a mountain biker no more than 3 feet from my window staring at me.  I tried my best to give a weak smile to their wide eyes and couldn't help but laugh at how pathetic I was.  I sighed, and sat there, with my right elbow propped up and my chin in my palm, chuckling softly and waiting for the gage to get somewhere between the 'C' and the 'H'.  As I have previously stated in past posts, running has stolen my humility.  I'm okay with not getting it back - I think it's a bit humbling.

The point in explaining this 2 hours and 11 miles of hell is because it threw off my entire day.  I tried to shake it off.  I really did.  But I couldn't; not all of the way.  I thought I was doing everything right, and everything went wrong.  I took a hot shower and tried to go back to bed and couldn't.  I was so tired and I couldn't sleep.  I tried to work on some of the multiple Final Essays I have to do by Monday, and nothing was coming.  Nothing.  I made fresh coffee and it didn't taste right.  I made breakfast and couldn't bring myself to eat a decent portion of it.  I paced my living room for a bit.  I started thinking of the last line of Yeats's "Among School Children".

"How can we know the dancer from the dance?"

I started this blog not wanting it to be a training blog, but I am unable to write real without including some form of it.  Can you separate the runner from the run?  My whole Friday was shoved out of whack because of one run.  It was the worst run, but it was still just one run.  Was this it?  Is this defining me now?  I have always said "running isn't who I am, it's what I do."  Of course, that is easily arguable - "you are what you do".  How separate is the run from me?  How separate am I from running?  Where, exactly, does the run start and end?  Does it start when I lift that first knee a little higher than the other and find the comfortable cadence?  Does it start when I slip my shoes on?  Does it start when I doctor my feet in the morning?  When I turn on the Keurig?  When I pull back the covers?  Does my run actually start when my alarm goes off, I 'slide to unlock' and open my eyes to see Cohen's droopy face staring back at me?  And when does it end?  It certainly didn't end when I got in my car.  It didn't end when I pulled my muddy feet from my shoes.  It didn't end when I stripped myself from cold, wet running clothes.  Hours later I was still pacing, thinking about it.  I went to work that evening and it was still off and nothing was on yet.  Time clicks on, like it inevitably always does, but my body was a fraction of a second slower and my mind seemed to have a thin film on top of it, like when you leave steaming milk sitting for too long.  It's the feeling of your left contact sliding slightly out of place and having to roll your eyes around trying to get it back, but it never quite comes all the way back.  It's not a visible difference, but you feel it.  Legs & Lungs described their essence as a team in not only the act of running (or biking) but in everything they do.  It's the "coffee we drink", the "miles we put in before the world is up".  Perhaps a run ends when another starts, but being unable to pinpoint the start kicks the circular question.  Can you know the dancer from the dance?  Can you know the runner from the run?  Is everything part of the run?  Is extrapolating the runner from the run possible?  They are two different things, after all.  ...Right?

During my low after my run, I texted Jesse Scott.  If you don't know who the hell he is, you are missing out.  He "paced" me for the North Country Marathon last summer (and by paced I mean I dropped his ass at mile 17).  I only dropped him because he was hurting from running a 100 or two in the month before.  He's a pretty hilarious dude and a decent writer, and I suggest giving this a read.

He went on to say "People like you and I are in a weird spot.  We have two groups to look to for advice:  People our age, like Krupicka, Jornet, etc. Who are freaks, and therefore not good role models, or old people, who don't think of ultras like we do."
              and that's really, really true.

I cannot go one more post without mentioning Joe.  Here's a picture for all of you.  He's been my rock, inspiration and cheerleader as I battle training in every way, both mentally and physically.  Him and his wife are two of the loveliest people I have ever met in my entire life, and they deserve everything.  When I cross that finish line my first phone call will be to Joe.
And if you live in the Kalamazoo area he probably knows you.
Because Joe knows everyone.  And everything.

monday:  lower body workout - no running miles
tuesday: dropped my car off to get fixed, ran 4.5 home.  incredibly sore glutes from the day before.
wednesday: 4.5 to get my car; upper body workout.  was going to add 6 at Urban Herd but it started storming really bad. Skipped.
thursday: 8 miles in the morning with Joe.  I got a thorn stuck in the back of my knee.  I tried to twease it out, but it broke off.  It's still in there.  And it still hurts.
friday: 11 mile fail
saturday: nothing.  For the first time in a long time I did nothing.  Good for the body, mixed feelings in the head.
sunday:  10 at Fort Custer with Michelle, then about 3 at the Arbs with Cohen, and finished up with 6-7 with the Dirty Herd at Al Sabo.  We'll call it 7.  On the ride home I thought about how much I really, really love group runs.  I love all of you that go.  Thank you.
total miles: 48

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