Thursday, April 29, 2010

Grudge match

Is it still considered a grudge match when it's against yourself?

You can have a grudge against yourself, right?

Well, actually, I can say that, "Yes, you can." because I do.

See, I thought I was training all purposefully and diligently and appropriately for that last 10K, but then I pissed away my sub-60 time with 30 extra seconds of whoknowswhattery.


So mad.

And after I got over being mad at myself, I decided to act like a grown-up (or my perception of a grown-up, anyway) and try to figure out where I went wrong.

I mean, I'd been putting up Test 10Ks in the 57s and 58s, so I was having a hard time just blaming The Gu Fiasco of 2010 for my self-loathing. Plus, blaming the tools is so immature. I've heard.

So I took a hard and unflinching look at my training regimen to see what could have gone awry and it took me all of one hot second to figure it out: too many traffic law-enforced stops.

See, friends, I run on the streets. And these aren't like back roads kind of streets, but actual city streets with traffic lights by which one must abide if one wants to return home to one's beloved husband without one's leg in one's pocket.

For some reason, Bubba's warning to me whenever I embark on anything remotely dangerous (which extends to trips to the gyno and nighttime walks with the dog), is to remind me to be careful and warn against coming home with my [insert relevant body part] in my pocket. I suppose this is meant to mean, "Be well on your endeavors, my love." or maybe, "Perhaps you should wear pants with pockets instead of your sweats when you go out in public.", but I'm not entirely sure. But now you know the origin of that random statement and I'm sure your lives are enriched thusly.

And the longer my runs, the more traffic lights I encounter. Meaning the more traffic-imposed "breaks" I encounter. Thus allowing me to catch my breath and prepare for the next leg of my run. Which is retarded when you think about running an actual race since you know they don't usually throw in an 8 lane, 4 way stop light at miles 2.5, 4 and 6.1, now do they.

Yes, welcome to my most recent BIG DUH moment. Ah, enlightenment.

So, to go about adjusting my training appropriately, I adjusted last weekend's Test 10K #whatever to remove as many stop lights as possible and also add in some levels of difficulty so that I'd be able to, like, see what I was really made of when it came to being able to train nonstop for 6.2 miles.

Levels of difficulty being the slightly undulating hills to be found on the Los Gatos Creek Trail when it dips beneath the streets I used to run as it follows the creek through Santa Clara county.

So, a run down the creek trail on a cool Saturday morning. What could be finer, right? Right. I can think of lots of things. Hot dogs come to mind for some reason.


Firstly, I realized how much I'd come to rely on those traffic lights and I was ashamed of myself. On my old 6.2 running route I would encounter 5 stop lights. Basically, one a mile. That's a lot of breaks. Now, granted, I rarely had to stop for all of them, but I always had to stop for a few of them and that had clearly begun to add up.

And then there was the issue of hills. In that, my old 6.2 route had one. As in ONE. And it was short, slight and if you looked at is crossways, it sort of disappeared. Grannies with canes have been seen scaling this behemoth of mountainousnessocity, so it certainly isn't anything about which to write home.

Not that I've signed up for any super hilly races this year, because that would be thisclose to insanity for me, but my theory was that working some hills into my routine couldn't hurt the old endurance. Meanwhile, in practice, it DID hurt my pace.

I'm slow *after* hills as it turns out.

Because I don't like to "be beaten" by hills, so I charge up them like, "Oh, who even knew this hill was here because LOOK AT ME I'm running the same pace as I was on flat and even ground.", which is all great and fine until I get to the top of the hill and then nearly stroke out as all the blood rushes away from my brain and toward my screaming leg muscles.

Sometimes it feels like my eyeballs will pop out. Not the nicest sensation.

And then my Garmin reports record slowing in my pace and I have to struggle to regain ground on my Virtual Whore who is now catching up with me with her even keel because HO HO she didn't sprint up the hill like a jackass.


From now on, I will take the hills a little less maniacally and I imagine that will improve my cardiac well-being a bit. At least I won't lose any eyeballs over it or have to be carted from the race route on a stretcher as though my nightmares of public shaming have come true.

After all this evil *learning* last Saturday, I'm happy to report that I still posted a sub-60 Test 10K time of 59: 27. That's with hills, threats of eyeball popping and having to keep my grabby hands to myself as I passed the world's most adorable sort-of-now-grown-up Samoyed puppy for whom I stopped briefly and uncharacteristically during my last outing to the trailhead a few months back.

He's impossibly cute and fluffy and it took all of my strength and will power to not stop and grab all his fur and face and kiss him and hug him until physically removed by his owner.

Not that this has happened before.

And, while I didn't feel awesomely light and almost like I was flying during this training run, I certainly did not die and I feel vaguely confident that I can give this weekend's sub-60K 10K a good solid Try #2.

Because while I was being all mad at myself for the extra 30 seconds, I decided to punish myself by signing up for another race all ON THE DOUBLE and what not.

Yay for me. And yay for the fact that, "Devil" is in the races name. Oh the foreboding, it knows no bounds.

My thoughts going into Sunday's race:
I will consume ZERO Gu before, during and after the race.
I will drink an adequate amount of water before, during and after the race. BUT NOT TOO MUCH DAMN IT.
I will eat a snack on the way to the race. Probably a Luna bar or some other smallish and not super repulsive energy-type snack.
I will wear my new shorts, as they've now been training tested and approved for racing. Which hardly seems necessary since the only difference between them and all my other shorts is the hot orange stripe on the leg.
I will wear a tank top with the preferred back pocket.
I will contemplate going back to racing while wearing a hat.
I will try to remember to lengthen my strides, hold my posture upright, breathe-in-through-nose-out-through mouth and keep all eyeballs in the cabin at all times.
I will HTFU.

And if I manage to sub-60 this fucker, then I will take a little break to contemplate my next move.


  1. Don't stroke out. I have no experience but I've heard it sucks. I mean, you might be all wonky on one side and stuff. And then I would laugh as you like hobble along like a weeble. ;) But hey!!! You'd qualify for Special Olympics, right?? Well shit. You'd be like gold medal every time. Maybe stroking out is a good idea. Virtual Whore can't gold medal, after all.

  2. I feel your pain on those hills.

    See, I'm from Florida, where we don't have such things. The summer after high school (many eons ago), I think the closest I even got to a staircase was stepping up a curb. I did a lot of walking--I walked to my summer job, I was on my feet all day, I walked everywhere--but nothing at all like climbing.

    Then I went a touch further north for college. And there were hills. Little ones, ones I almost didn't notice, but oh, they were there. We went on a three hour tour of the campus my first day.

    My second day, I hopped out of bed and when I landed, my legs collapsed under me. And I couldn't get them to MOVE for several hours. That stunk. (Among other things, I needed to shut off my alarm and also visit the potty.)

    Hills are eeeeeevil.

    (I commend your self-restraint re:the Samoyed. That takes near impossible willpower. Oh boy oh boy a Samoyed SQEEEEEEEEEEZE.)

  3. HTFU? Just the funniest thing I'd never heard before. Hardly seems like you are a gentle flower who needs to HTFU, but I'll take your word for it.

    You are going to have a great race! I mean it! I don't run so what do I know but your plan sounds like a good one to me. Especially the snack part. Those gu things just seem sick.

  4. One semester in college my schedule worked out so I used to pass this guy walking his Great Pyrenees fluffball every Tuesday and Thursday morning. So every Tuesday and Thursday, the man generously allowed the freaky weird girl to bear hug his polar-bear dog.

    I was obviously destined to end up living with multiple dogs.

    Good luck in the race. Don't stroke out, don't throw up, and DO enjoy those well-earned race fries afterwards.

  5. Good luck on Sunday. I'll be thinking about you and sending sub-60 vibes.

    (I FBed you earlier. I'm late to getting around to the blogs today.)

  6. Hardening The Fuck Up doesn't sound like much fun. On my Couch to 5K training, my mantra is... Doable. Like "I can do this". Which is way better than the phrases I used to say to myself when running cross country, "Dear Lord, please just let me make it the next block and then I can lay down on the sidewalk and die a peaceful death."

    Hardening up just sounds like you're being mean to yourself.

    But then again, I'm a chronic underachiever, so you probably shouldn't take my advice.

  7. Sara - Not sure if you watch Family Guy, but there's a whole episode where Peter has a stroke and OH do we laugh at that episode.

    "I hate being all strokey."

    Has me rolling every time. Because, apparently, I am the devil.

    Galadriel - The Samoyed - OH MY WORD - he is the cutest. And he's still a puppy so you can only imagine the cutness.

    Kris - I thought of you when I got my fries. Leave it to you to remember the important things :)

    Lera - I got your vibes and TEE DAH! had a great race. All dedicated to you! Thank you, doll.

    Wendy - I don't believe you about being an underachiever. Impossible.

    Meanwhile, I have shared your sentiment about lying down and dying a merciful death on the sidewalk MANY times.

    And, while I have stopped to walk a few times in my training (and during races - OH YES - sometimes the pain is too great), I have yet to fully succumb. I'm saving that for the day when I get talked into running a marathon.


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