Tuesday, July 15, 2008
No, I'm not signed up for an Ironman. But I'm training for one anyway. A bunch of my friends (and Brent) are signed up for Ironman Arizona in November. I had so much fun training for the first one, I find myself training for this one too. I just can't help myself. This time, I am especially enjoying just doing the training without the added pressure of a crazy-hard race looming ahead (okay, well I do have a marathon in October). I am finding the key to training hard is recovering hard. Obeying this law, I've been eating a lot of good food (high in protein, fruits and veggies), sleeping a lot, getting deep-tissue massages regularly, stretching daily, and doing Yoga to boot. I guess I am simply not happy unless I'm deliriously exhausted from the previous day's workouts. If it were anything other than exercise, my family would launch an intervention, and I would be sent off to rehab.
On Saturday, a group of 11 of us gathered for an 80 mile bike ride with heat, hills, and wind at 6:30 in the morning. What more can you ask for? Thankfully, we had a nice cool cloud cover for more than half of the ride. It was unbelievably humid, however, unusual for San Diego. My sunglasses kept fogging up. I eventually just tucked them into my back pocket, tired of not being able to see.
As I conquered Scripps Poway Parkway and Hwy 67 on Pandora, I rejoiced. A short, little year ago, these hills always killed me. This Saturday, I didn't hammer but just enjoyed the climb. I couldn't believe I could find a pace that felt comfortable. These used to be monster mountains to me. I watched a road runner awkwardly take flight and soar across the road before darting away into the scrub brush. The other riders loudly cursed at me as I explored an extra loop in Ramona, offering scenic views of neighboring farms. Of course, I somehow found the few hills hidden there as well. I had always thought Ramona was pretty flat. Just windy. On Saturday, I found both. Hills and wind somehow always seem to come to me like metal to a magnet.
The group stopped at a grocery store on Main St, and I gobbled down some pretzels, half a turkey sandwich, and a chocolate chip cookie, chased by a Coke. Much better. We began our journey home through the windy, narrow roads of Highland Valley. Riding westward offers some very exciting descents around some very tight switchbacks, which Pandora loves (she hates it when I hit the breaks, and prefers me in the drops, of course). It was the exhilaration I feel when screaming down and around and upside down on a roller coaster. I just love when you have to break to 40!
I felt great all the way until we hit Camino del Sur. At that point, I decided I was done. My hands hurt, my feet swelled, my quads screamed, my lower back ached, and my stomach began to feel nauseous. Oh, and it was humid and hot, and I was dripping with sweat. Only 10 more miles...Of course, hill after hill kept appearing. Are you kidding me? I couldn't complain though; I had planned the route. We hit the 56 bike path, and I knew we had only 5 miles to go. The last 5 miles was the longest 5 miles I had EVER ridden, especially since we faced the full brunt of wicked headwinds. One last hill, and I was home. Thank, God! I drank 2 full glasses of ice-cold water, grabbed a bag of ice, placed it on my forehead, and laid on the floor of my air-conditioned apartment for about 10 minutes. God, that was a great ride.
Sunday, I got to sleep in until 6:15 am. (Did I just say that?) Somehow, I dragged myself out of bed to meet my girlfriends for my long run. My goal was 16. 16? (Gulp). How the hell am I going to do that? Do you know what we just did Saturday? Are you crazy? Btw, are you aware that your toe still HURTS?! I ignored the voice of reason in my head. And started running. Slowly. One foot in front of the other, 1 mile at a time.
I chatted easily with one of my friends as ran through Batiquitos Lagoon. The cool, packed dirt trail was soft and forgiving on my legs. We did 2 loops, and 9 miles flew by. I felt great. She returned the start, and I continued onward. I hit the coast and made my way south, watching triathletes battle the heat and hill by South Ponto State Beach as they finished up the bike leg of the Carlsbad Triathlon (great race, btw). I felt a pang of remorse; I wanted to race! However, I had become one of those people. You know the type. The athletes you scorn for running a 2nd loop after the race is done because the race itself wasn't long enough for those crazies to get a decent workout. I had wanted to go long this weekend, and the Carlsbad Tri wasn't going to do it for me. (Besides I have Camp Pendleton next weekend anyway.)
I stopped briefly to refill my bottles at Ponto. It was SO humid! I took extra time to take care of myself--ate enough, drank enough, salted enough. I knew it would pay dividends later. I reached Neptune and ran towards Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas. I admired the multi-million dollar homes with coveted beach-front property and well-manicured little gardens in the front yards.
The turn-around came so quickly. I headed back, a new spring in my step. I was picking up the pace! I felt wonderful! I must have been fueling and hydrating properly because when I hit mile 14, I felt like my head was floating on my body; somehow my legs were carrying me along all by themselves. I had run all the pain from yesterday's bike ride out of my legs. I felt nothing but numbness. I admired the turquoise-green ocean, lapping lazily at the sand. Right at that moment, I was overwhelmed by a great sense of peace and comfort. I was exactly where I wanted to be at exactly the right time. It was a tremendous moment of clarity. My whole being, spirit, and soul was entirely present at that instance in time, from each ephemeral moment to moment, lucidly demarcated by each footstep.
When my truck appeared at mile 16 and-a-half, it took great pains to stop. Afterwards I felt alive and invigorated. Not sure why a long bike ride leaves me wrecked while a long run seems to breathe life and energy into every fiber of my being. I am salivating for my next long run.