Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"In my dreams, I am a Kenyan."



I ran across the trail, gasping to breathe as the heaviness of the air settled in my lungs. A quick glimpse at the Garmin confirmed that I needed to pick up the pace. The sway of trees brushed a breeze across my forehead. In this humidity, any slight movement in the air counted. A drop of salt slid from from the top of my lip and merged into the hollow of my mouth.

It was 8:30 in the morning. I had dropped the kids off at school; and I was at the Arboretum.

It was my time now. It was time to run.



Two miles into this. I was warmed up. I was psyched. Now it's time for speed work.



100 yards. I prayed a good song would come up on my playlist. Something loud, driving and intense. Something to make me want to strain every muscle in my body till I got to that one crest of the hill where I could do my recovery lap.



"This is where you work," our running coach said. "Mark your pace. This is where your work begins. Only YOU know where you start. Only YOU know where you end. Only YOU know how much better you can be."



Horseshoe Beach. The sandy warm up. Up the crest of the hill, the trails and hills begin.

"I like to run," I explained, to the newish friends I met at the gym. They wondered why I started our workout an hour ahead of them on the treadmill. "I like to run first," I said. "It calms me. It gets me ready for everything else."



"You look like you've been put through the wringer already," she said.

I looked in the mirror. Sweat was pooled in the hollow of my shirt, my face was blotched and red; My hair, pulled back in a pony tail, looked more rat-like than pony-ish. The towel I held in my hand was damp.

"I put in a few miles."

Did I? I did, the machine verified.



That time was lost. Caught between the music and that moment when my breathing became second nature again... I lost track of time.

As I turned off the Ipod, I recalled the words my running coach said.

"Get off the treadmill." She said, and peeled another layer of clothing off her torso to begin stretching her arms. Her body looked Grecian. The lean layers of muscle rippled, fluid-like across her skin.

"The treadmill does NOTHING for you. Get off of it and start running the roads. Put on a pair of sweats while you're at it. Run in the humidity. You need to be prepared for less oxygen. You need to sweat."

I stared at her. This was her response to my question about how to train for high altitude running.

The distance between where she was, and where I stood spanned galaxies. But I keep trying. And even though it feels like a snail's pace. I'm going to keep trying. And I know I'm getting better.



North Shore Road, approaching Flatts. I run this on my long days and pray I don't get hit by a car. This narrow section ahead is where I sprint, just so I can be in the clear and visible to cars approaching. The better I get at this, the more brazen I become on the roads.

"YOU better look out for ME," I think.

"If you don't feel like you're going to throw up you're not running fast enough."

-redheadrunning.



(I think these are Portuguese man of wars. These were snapped by Grandma H on her last visit. However, I've seen these on my beach runs from time to time. They pop, by the way, which is an incredibly sickening sound)

Running in a class has provided some much needed motivation. Apart from learning new trails on the island, I've also gotten the benefit of wisdom from those who have been running a lot longer than I have. AND running a lot better. Most of the women in the class have been running in this class for years. I'm easily the slowest person in the group. They speed past me on the hills and can sprint like they're being chased by the devil.

That's ok. I'm better now than I was when I started running with them in October. And I intend to get better still.



"Don’t waste energy comparing yourself to the next guy/gal/transvestite. Use all of your energy to keep moving forward with your goals. It’s overstated, but true: there will always be someone faster, stronger, thinner, richer, fitter, less constipated whatever. There will also always be someone slower, weaker, fatter, poorer, more out of shape, more constipated. The only way you can truly win is when you exceed your expectations for yourself. However that looks."

Beth from "Shut up and Run." Another inspiration.

So, training continues. The next race is in May. The Bolder Boulder 2011 10k. Last year was the first time I ran it; and I had a blast. This year proves to be even more exciting as it is becoming a real family event. Both my brothers are running it, as is my sister-in-law, Dallice.

Slip and slides, catching tator tots midair, and having post-run recovery meals at Southern Sun are all on my agenda. In addition to a quick six miles. I can't wait!!

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