Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week 4: Recovery--Crash and Burn

The 8 (Oops, I mean 11)-Mile Run:
Last week, I finished out my training with a long trail run at Penasquitos Canyon. The weather was deliciously perfect, high 60s to low 70s. I had my Fuel Belt, Cliff Blocks, and GPS in tow. This doesn't seem remarkable but it was the first time I had used this equipment in over 6 months. This realization filled me with some anxiety of what was to come: 8 miles of slow and painful slogging on trails. I headed out in good spirits. My pace was perfect for a long, slow run. The trail was fairly forgiving, mostlly flat and well-worn. My legs are still not used to running but I could coax them into a consistent rhythm with little effort. I reached the 4-mile mark and turned around, feeling good, full of confidence. I chomped away on our Salt Tabs and Cliff Blocks, chasing them with slugs of water. Everything was going according to plan.

Then, I decided to take "the scenic route" back. I headed north to circle around the waterfall. So far, so good. The water trickled and beckoned to us beyond some rocky crags. How I wished we could plunge into the icy waters. Shortly after, I branched left. I was sure both trails returned to the start. A mile later, we began climbing up some very steep, very rocky terrain. I was forced to walk. Huffing and puffing, a sinking feeling plummeted in my gut. In the back of my mind, I knew we were going the wrong way. Stubbornly, I plunged onwards. The trail started heading sharply north and up towards a residential area. I doubled back. I took the next fork in the road, which suddenly began heading west. My truck was east. Ugh. We doubled back again.

Finally, I headed down the east trail again. My only other option was to return the way we had come. Of course, in hindsight, this would have been the smartest but it was over a mile away, and that seemed like an eternity. In the end, a 2 mile addition would have been better than the 3 hellaciously mountainous ones we added on. The rocky hills, I mean, mountains, appeared out of nowhere. Mutely, we climbed up each one and staggered down the next. At the top, I could see the trail we needed to get to in the distance to the south. How on earth were we going to get down? The trail was so rocky at this point that we were walking. My spirits were low, knowing I had screwed up.

At long last, the trail began heading down towards the trail home. I was immensely relieved but I had to get down first. The trail was almost steep enough to warrant crab-walking on my ass. I bent my knees and side-stepped down, avoiding tiny rockslides as I timidly traversed the cliff's side. My quads were trembling and screaming by the time I reached the bottom. I finally reached the trail that would take us back to the truck. I coaxed my tired legs back into a run. I was completely out of water, had run 8 miles (including mountains), and still had 3 to go. The situation was grim. I fell silent and focused on putting one foot in front of the other, stumbling back towards home. I finally reached the truck, completely spent.

Recovery Week:
Although I had promised myself not to just veg all week during my recovery week, it was not to be. Work was crazy busy, and I simply felt exhausted. Nonetheless, I wished I had done more than sit on my butt Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Friday. By Friday, I could feel the depression creeping back in. I paid for it my slothfullness dearly on my warrior weekend.

Camp Pendleton Bike Ride:
Saturday, we set out for a leisurely ride through Camp Pendleton, one of my favorite local San Diego rides. The ocean, low-traffic roads, mostly flat, and no stops. What else could you ask for? Unfortunately, I felt groggy and sluggish for the entire ride. C'mon! At what point will I start seeing the rewards from my hard work? Afterall, even though I took 5 days off, I did put in 3 solid weeks of hard work. Argh. We had planned on going 40 but I quickly realized I had bitten off more than I could chew. 10 miles in, I knew the smart thing to do would be 30. I slogged away down the road, beating myself up for how slow my progress was. Every little bump in the hill was an immense mountain. I thought this was a flat ride! To add insult to injury, I clearly remembered zooming down the same roads on many rides before, thinking the ride was "easy". Not today. Of course, the false flats and headwinds didn't help. I had no idea what an impact those factor made until the turn-around. Once heading back home, on a gentle descent with a tailwind, we sailed at breakneck speed. I felt amazing! Funny how quickly things can change on the bike. All of a sudden, I noticed the deep blue ocean, the sweet songs of the meadow larks, and the wildflowers starting to peek through in the fields. Everything was just sweeter. We made it back to the truck, and I was relieved we had only done 30. When did 30 become such an effort?

8-Mile (I Mean 7) Trail Run:
The temps soared on Sunday. Knowing it would be in the upper 70s, we headed towards San Elijo Lagoon since it was on the coast. This was a smart decision. Water followed us for the entire trail, which was often shaded and cool. It was delicious. 1/2 mile in, the overwhelming need to pee brought me to a screeching halt. Damn pre-run coffee. I veered off the trail to take care of business. I did my thing, thankful as I really had to go, pulled up my shorts and jumped back onto the trail. At that exact moment, two male runners came up over the trail. Had I been 2 seconds longer, I would have been caught red-handed! I giggled for a few minutes before continuing.

Unfortunately, my legs were shot from the ride the day before. I silently vowed not to ride the day before a long run anymore. Afterall, I'm not training for an Ironman. Why beat myself up needlessly? My pace was agonizingly slow but I forced my legs to keep turning over, ignoring the embarrassing pace on my GPS. At mile 3, we reached the turn-around. I hadn't expected to reach the end of the trail so quickly. My run would be short. No matter, we could always add on at the end. We slogged our way back, trudging over long stretches of deep sand and lumbering up steep steps made of logs. Somehow, I managed to maintain a run (maybe "shuffle" is more accurate) the whole way. The trail glittered with tiny fragments of shells washed up from previous week's high tides.

Greg saw the ocean and took off, clipping away at 8:30 min/miles. The trail was very friendly at this point, packed with a hard sand and sloping gently downhill. I took off in hot pursuit, dancing over boulders and logs. He reached a steep hill and slowed to a walk. Chomping at the bit, I refused to walk, zigging and zagging my way to the top. I plowed through a bunch of confused bird watchers with telescopes at the top, refusing to lose my rhythm, crying, "Coming through!" I didn't mean to be rude but their sense of time was simply elapsing at a slower pace than mine. We reached the road and plowed onward for a final mile. At mile 7, we reached the ocean. Spent, we both agreed 7 was enough (especially on a recovery week!), and we plunged into the icy, cool waters of the ocean. The water rejuvenated our legs and we basked in the surf until our feet had gone numb before slowly trudging back to the car.

After a much-needed nap, I am tired but recovering quickly. Ready for the next training block!


Christi said...

Wow, you have some great places to train! I would love to be near the ocean to run but I guess I will have to make due with mountains!

Good luck with the training this week!

Wes said...

Free bonus miles! Way to rock it :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with Christi. Even though I live right by the beach, I'm still envious of all the trails. South Florida certainly lacks in that department. Happy training ! You're doing great !