Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Mileage Awakens

It’s late at night now, and I am still recovering from this week’s 18 mile run. As soon as I got back to my apartment, I went straight to bed and slept for several hours. By the time I woke up it was already 5 pm and dark outside (thanks a lot daylight savings time). I had to work to do but I was totally unmotivated to do anything other than rest. You all know that I have trained for the Los Angeles Marathon for several years now, but all that experience doesn’t keep me from feeling completely winded after pounding the asphalt, and at times the pavement, through Burbank and Glendale.

For once I got to Griffith Park before any announcements by the coaches were made, and that felt like a tremendous accomplishment considering how I like to sleep in most days. Coach JC told us once again to take it easy on this run and reminded us that this was not about being fast but completing all 18 miles. Knowing the impact that all these miles were going to have on us, he made it clear that if we wanted to do maintenance walks or other cardio exercises instead of runs through next week that would be fine. Having been through this marathon training before, I came into this particular run with an alarming amount of confidence. I’ve ran 18 miles before, but I seem to have forgotten the effect that has had on my body. I treated this run as if it was no big deal, but it sure was.

This run comes just after “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” finally arrived in theaters everywhere, so us runners tried to talk about it without spoiling any important plot details. This proved to be even more challenging than the run itself as those of us who had seen the most anticipated movie of 2015 were ever so eager to talk about its most pivotal moments in extensive detail. As for myself, I was curious what people thought about Jar Jar Binks’ sex scene with an ewok as it raised a few eyebrows… Okay, that didn’t happen in “The Force Awakens.” I just wanted to make sure I had your attention.

For the record I did do my two maintenance runs before this 18 miler, so I was certain that I would keep up with my fellow pace group runners throughout this run. For the most part I did, but just like in any LA Marathon I eventually got separated from the rest of the pack and found myself once again experiencing the loneliness of the long distance Kenber. Fortunately I did have a map of the course, one that I did not lose for once, so I wasn’t about to go in the wrong direction. Have I done that in the past? I’ll plead the fifth on that.

We were not inundated with hills even though we had to run part way up Grandview Avenue, but we did have to watch ourselves more than usual as we ran downhill more often than not. I did my best to run on the asphalt as much as possible, but there were times I was forced to run on concrete which did not do my joints much in the way of favors. During the LA Marathon we spend most of our time running on asphalt, so it’s important that we run on it now so that we can fully prepare for what’s coming up in two months.

Despite the fact that I ran by my lonesome, I found myself running at just the right pace even as the temperature rose from a frigid 49 degrees to a temperature that just had to be unseasonably warm. I had more layers of clothing on than usual, but it was no surprise that I shed some of them way before the halfway point.

I did have a few packs of gel blocks handy in case I needed more of an energy boost, and it didn’t take long for me to need them as I could tell when I was low on fuel. Coach JC told us that this 18 mile run would be the first one in our training that would have us hitting “the wall.” Now hitting the wall means we’ve reached the point where we feel like we can’t go any further and we go into some sort of collapse. Getting up from there and forcing yourself to get to the finish line back can be a mighty challenge, and I’ve been there several times before.

Towards the end I found myself slowing to a crawl, and I knew my fellow pace group members, who had long since left me in their vapor trails, would not be waiting for me back at Griffith Park. Not that I’m holding it against them; I wouldn’t even wait for me. Just as I started running again, I found myself losing speed to where my feet were telling me, “Fuck this!”

But crossed the finish line I did, and the coaches were on hand to greet with applause and endless praise. As you can imagine, I was one sore mother fucker and eager to stretch my legs for all of eternity. What was really bothering me, however, was my back which felt a lot more sore than usual. 

Throughout this run it felt like I was slouching a lot and I kept trying to stay in the present moment so that I could keep my back straight, but my mind always wanders. If anyone knows any good back exercises or stretches, please let me know.

So, I survived another 18 mile run and now have a 10 mile recovery run to look forward to next week. I will be out of town for Christmas but I do plan on continuing my marathon training. In the meantime I got a lot of resting to do. Seriously, I was too tired to even get a bag of ice from Ralphs Supermarket so that I could have an ice bath. I got to the store and even then I was ready to pass out.

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