blown out, killed, destroyed, thrashed

Monday, November 16, 2009

To put it bluntly.

Yesterday was my last big training run before raceday: 22 miles, the farthest I've ever run in my life.

I chose an incredibly scenic route through Chileno Valley, winding through the dairy and pastureland of Sonoma and Marin counties. (See the photo? It really did look like that for all of 22 miles.) I drove the route on Saturday, trying to get a sense of how challenging the run would be and mapping out where my friend Neveia (who will also call CIM her first marathon) and I would leave our cars.

Two things to which I should've paid more attention: First of all, it took a long-ass time to drive this route. I felt like I was in the car forever. Secondly, hills seem much smaller when you're in a vehicle.

Hindsight is a glorious thing, isn't it?

So Neveia and I started off on our journey yesterday morning. It was freezing. The ground and trees were covered in frost. But we kept on. We hit the 1-mile point when she realized she had lost her $100 sunglasses. So we backtracked for a little bit, but when we didn't see them on the road, we figured they were probably in the car (which we later discovered they were). So we turned back around and started on our way again.

At the 4-mile point, we began to climb the most gigantic hill ever -- one of those tricky ones that goes around a curve so you can't see how big it actually is. The ascent ended up being a mile long and reached an elevation of about 500 feet.

As we were coming down this hill (downhill = another great way to burn out your legs), we were joined by a beagle who ran with us for the next three miles. This totally threw us off. We kept telling the dog to go home, but she wouldn't listen. We had to stop running and hold the dog by the collar every time a car drove by. And then we tried to call the phone number on the dog's tag, only to realize we had zero cell reception. The dog (whose name was Merry) ended up running into a cow pasture, and we didn't see her after that. I hope she's OK and made it back home safely.

At the 9-mile mark, we hit another gigantic hill -- not as massive as the first, but it was a good half-mile to the top.

At Mile 10 we heard guns. Yes, that's right -- apparently there was a shooting range to our left. We started running faster -- probably faster than we should have (and did I mention this whole course was full of rolling hills?) -- to get away from the guns.

One of our cars was parked at a church at the 11-mile mark, so we stopped briefly to swap out water bottles and reapply sunscreen. The next two miles involved trying not to get run over on Tomales Road. And then we turned left on Chileno Valley Road and were in the homestretch (well, if you can call nine miles to go the "homestretch").

We were greeted by another ascent, this time lasting two miles to get to the top. And this is where I began to fade. Big-time. My entire lower body began to throb with a pain I have never felt before. My glutes and hamstrings were on fire. And I actually had a really hard time not crying.

I started taking walk breaks because walking was faster than running at this point. I tried to run the flat or somewhat flat sections and walk the hills. It was slow going. I went on like this for some time -- running for a bit, walking for a bit, trying little ChiRunning mind and alignment tricks to attempt to make the pain go away.

It didn't.

And meanwhile, Neveia was literally running circles around me to make sure I was OK. (I believe she actually ended up running a full 26 miles because she kept backtracking to check on me. At least she doesn't have to worry about finishing strong at CIM.)

When I hit 18, I knew I didn't have that much farther to go, so I tried to run for longer stretches -- half a mile here, half a mile there. And when there was only one mile left, I dug in and gutted it out -- ran that final 22 and actually got down to a sub-10 pace, despite all of the pain.

And I finished. It took me more than four hours, but I finished.

Unfortunately, I am in so much pain right now that I can barely walk. (I also reek of eucalyptus/menthol muscle cream.)

But the good news is I know I can finish CIM. It won't be pretty and it will probably really hurt, but I know that I have the mental willpower to do it -- and the mental part is so important in a marathon. (And I don't think there will be as many hills, so hopefully my legs will be in better shape.)

Also, I didn't crap my pants, which is always a good thing.

1 comment:

Michelle Panik said...

The dog and guns are too funny.

I was running in Gualala earlier this year and got attacked by a herd of Geese. The mile might have been my faster, ever.

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