July 11, 2011

Never Give Up

I am in the most pain I think I've ever experienced in my entire life. Okay, so I haven't had to experience much physical pain. But I also don't consider myself to have a low tolerance for pain. I usually just fight through it. Like the time I broke my arm in the 8th grade and didn't get a cast until the following day. And I can say I hurt more now than I did that day.

The only other time I can think of having been in pain comparable to this was when I pulled a nerve in my neck playing volleyball in high school. That was painful! But I think this might be more so. I know its definitely more painful than a sprained ankle, getting my braces tightened, or even my wisdom teeth pulled. (Like I said, I don't have many painful experiences to go off of). But I know this is bad.

I can feel every muscle in my legs. From the bottom of my feet to the muscles that wrap around my butt and hips. I didn't realize that torn muscles in my quads could even hurt while I sit still. But they can. (And it doesn't stop there, my shoulders hurt, my sides, my stomache, my neck. I have blisters on my feet and a sunburn on my back and part. I have chaffing from my sports bra. And I am still tired.)

Only 3 weeks ago, I ran 23 miles and didn't have any soreness following. Nearly the same route but with an additional 3 miles to make it 26, I am nearly bed ridden. The MAJOR change...we started up at Snowbird. 8 miles of downhill running; covering a 4000' elevation decline. Now, if you aren't a runner, downhill running sounds like a piece of cake. But why don't you go ahead and put your cake down and give it a try. It sucks. Well, the running down the mountain part doesn't suck, it's the after the decline part that bites.

But with the Deseret News Marathon being 16 miles down hill, we have been trying to include more hill running in our training. Thus, it was time to include a good portion in our last and final long run before the marathon. (And luckily we have two weeks to recover.)

Route: Snowbird to Point of the Mtn., then back to Draper Park.
So here is how it all went down.

5:30am: Krick's place. We juiced up on our pre-race gatorade mix of carbs+b vitamins. Stretched out our TB bands and applied our body glide. Then drove out up the mountain to Snowbird.

6:00am: Running starts. We pace at about 10 minute miles. Temperatures were about 50 degrees. The scenery was awesome!

7:15am: We come out of the canyon. It's shaded. It's mostly still a flat or partial decline. We hit a good hill at mile 10. But make it through.

8:30am: We meet my mom at Draper Park. Mile 14. Fill up on water and continue down the Porter Rockwell trail. It's our first part of running in the sun for the day. It's hot. We've already run 2 and a half hours. We are getting more fatigued.

9:00am: I start to crash. The trail is up and down. The heat is pushing down on us. I run out of water. My quads and calves are killing from the previous downhill running. I am having trouble keeping a 10:30 pace. My mom takes a detour to Hilary's house to pick her up while krick and I continue forward the next 3 miles to the point of the mountain.

10:45am: I pull my music out of my ears and try to focus my thoughts on surviving. On pushing forward. On not quitting. On something postive. On nothing at all. On anything but how much pain I am in and how much I feel like a ball of lead that is just impossible to pick up. At the point of the mountain (mile 21), I tell Krick to go on. I give up, I need to walk for a bit to regain some confidence in finishing. Krick is having a good run, but the great running partner she is, she walks with me. We walk for 1 mile. We pick up my mom and Hilz. We walk for 3 more. Walking was stupid. It was probably more painful than running the rest, but mentally I just couldn't do it that day. We pick ourselves up and finish out the last mile with a steady 10:30 pace. It was the most torturous mile of my life.

So all in all, distance ran equaled 22 miles. Distance total, 26 miles. Distance that ruined it for me 8 miles down hill in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Time to finish, 5 hours and 15 minutes. One hour longer than it took us to run 23. (Walking cost us about 30 minutes is my guess.)

Lessons learned:

1. I have the best running partner you could ask for. (Thank you Krick for sticking with me. I promise I would/will do the same for you if you needed it.)

2. 26 miles is no joke. It's not for the weak of mind or body. It's even a bigger accomplishment than I thought I was setting out for.

3. Pacing at the start is key. Don't allow the downhill cause us to speed up.

4. I can finish. Walking or running. It's still a finish.

5. Some days are better than others. Saturday was just a bad day. It's not going to let me get discouraged for the marathon. I have confidence that the marathon will be a better day.

After all this is said, you are probably asking why we even set out to run 26 before the race. We are following the training program of Jeff Galloway. He claims that runners hit their "wall" at whatever the longest distance they ran was in the last 3 weeks. The idea here is that if you run 26 within 3 weeks of the race, you won't hit your wall until the race is over, making it a more enjoyable experience.

My thoughts are this. I think attempting to run the 26 on Saturday was a good idea. I think it mentally prepared me to know that I can do it. That even if I walk, I know I can finish it. I think that the hill hurt my physical ability to run on Saturday, but more so the idea of running 26 miles was defeating me. Could I do it? What would happen if I walked? Could I pick back up for the finish? Could I finish through the pain? I now know that I can.

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