Saturday, March 22, 2014

nothing short of miraculous

As hard as I have been pushing my body lately, it was my computer that decided to crap out over the last week, hence the 14-day delay from my last post. Even now I await it's return from the land of Geeks with a brand new hard drive.

Despite my technological woes, I find my running has taken some unexpected turns. I am on day 81 and going strong. After my last ultra training run left me scared and crippled, I assumed my attempt to run 30+ miles would end in a similar fate.

With three weeks out from my event and some foot tendinitis that has become a constant companion, I decided I would get in my final ultra long run with healing time to spare before my 50-mile dooms day.

This past weekend I got up at 5:45am, drove out to U-Village, and hit the Burke Gilman right around 6:40am. That was the start of my lakeside Washington tour. I visited more places in a single morning than most Washingtonian's will visit over the course of 6 months.

U-Village > Windermere > Matthew's Beach > North Seattle > Lake Forest Park > Kenmore > Bothell > Inglewood-Finn Hill > Juanita Bay > Kirkland > Central Houghton > Bellevue > West Bellevue > Mercer Island > Central District > Medrona > Montlake > U-Village

6+ hours. 35 miles. And one extremely dedicated friend willing to put up 13 miles of complaining.

After about mile 20, I began moving as slow as molasses. I'd say the toughest part though, was the trek across the I90 through Mercer Island. Good Lord that was the longest few miles of my life. All in all, I saw some pretty amazing things. I got to see the beautiful and unnecessary homes along Lake Forest Park, run past an orchard of Birch trees in Bothell with blue trunks, nearly got run down at the Kirkland St. Patty's Day Race, and traversed the I90 bridge on foot. It was a big day people, having completed the longest run in my life to date and lived to tell the tale.

The day Washington nearly killed me.
In the end, I made it. I figured I would surely be laid up for the next few days. My feet were so sore, my joints wouldn't bend, and I ached all over... But then the unthinkable happened.

I woke up the next morning, sore, and decided to jog my mile down to the coffee shop. So I did, at a 10 min mile trot. I enjoyed my coffee and biscuits with bacon jam (yes, you read that correctly...BACON JAM) and then began the jog home.

At first I barely put one foot in front of the other. Then things began to feel more fluid, so I opened my stride a bit...then a bit more...and more...until I was at a dead sprint and feeling weightless, a blur to passers by. I ran this way for nearly a mile, clocking roughly around 6:45. This doesn't seem like much, but when you factor in 35+ miles at 14min a pop the day before, I hope you can understand my astonishment. I felt invincible.

The following day, Monday, I ran 4 miles clipping them off around 7:40 and feeling amazing. So amazing, that I decided to go for another round of 3.5 miles at 7:30 a few hours later. Everything feels so in-tune. I've been in incredible shape before, but nothing has ever felt like this.

Have I found the secret to running (besides the obvious that bacon jam is apparently the fuel of champions)? For me, I believe I have. But that will be another conversation reserved for a later date. Until then, I continue to run strong despite some considerable personal and professional setbacks. I'm currently on a quest to find some inner peace, focus, and resolution. I sincerely believe that my running adventure thus far has provided me with more clarity than I could have ever anticipated, and surely more to come in the future as I try to make sense of the rest of my life. Day 81 of  #streak365

Thursday, March 6, 2014

are you there God, it's me Amanda...

Does anyone have a box of kittens they are willing to let me borrow? After the week I had, I need something soft and cuddly...

What's with this overly dramatic feline request? Training is ramping up for me in a big way. As it stood on my calendar, I needed to complete somewhere in the vicinity of 40-45 miles over the March 1st weekend. I can sense your skepticism, and trust me it is just.

I came off my 34 mile weekend feeling tired, but no major complaints. I thought so myself, "Hey, this isn't so bad! I'm going to be the female Anton Krupika!" What a stupid little fool I was.

I had intended to run 25 miles on Saturday, March 1st on the Soaring Eagle Trail out in Issaquah, WA. I now fully understand why my friends looked at me as if I needed a straight jacket. Running 25 miles on a single track trail just ain't gonna happen on a leisurely Saturday morning. After an hour and 30 min, I had run all of 6 miles! Oh hell no. I topped out at 15 miles in 3.5 hours and called it a job well done.

But at least the trails were beautiful, breathtaking even. The run, albeit a time sucker, was pleasant and shared in good company with my running buddy.

Sunday, however...

Sunday I woke up with what felt like swollen lymph nodes. Perfect. Given that I hadn't fully succumbed to the virus that was surely pending in my future, I knew how important it would be to get in a good long run because who knows what the coming days would bring.

I threw on my running clothes, tossed my hair in a run-bun, laced up and stepped out the door...into pouring down rain and mid-30 temps. Perfect.

Maybe it'll clear up? It didn't. I drove out to Renton for a 9 mile loop that runs around Lake Youngs. It's hilly and there's not much to entertain, but I figured it would allow me to refuel every lap and at least there's no chance of getting lost.

I set out for my first of 3 loops. Naturally I got 2 miles in and hail began to crash down upon me. Perfect.  Hell had, in fact, started to freeze over.

My trail soon turned to a river and I found myself flashing back to The Oregon Trail. "Will you ford this river?" Do I dare?

For 9 miles I would tell myself, "Only 4 more miles till you get a snack. You'll be glad you did this when you finish." The tone of the conversation plummeted from there. At one point I distinctly remember arguing with myself, and losing. These one-sided conversations (scattered obscenities throughout) continued for all 28 miles.

5 hours and 30 minutes I was out there. Frozen. Wet. Beaten, yet not quite broken. I prayed for the sweet relief of death but it never came. It poured every minute of that run, but somehow I managed to press on. My mind is a scary place, especially when I'm trapped inside it for that long with nothing but impending doom to occupy my thoughts.

My friends, this was a struggle. The greatest test of my will power (and mental faculties) to date, until April that is. But I live to run another day...every day. Day 65 and still running.

Double-fistin' it. Post-run recovery combo.
Truly I must take a moment and thank my running buddy Jill, who I missed dearly on ultra Sunday runday, and friend Lina, for her constant emotional support. Also, a huge shout out to all my Oiselle HQ peeps for supporting me as I bitched and complained for 5 days straight post-run. Everyone in the greater Seattle area knows about my woes.

Until next time.