“At first an ordeal and then an accomplishment, the daily run becomes a staple, like bread, or wine, a fine marriage, or air. It is also a free pass to friendship.”
~ Benjamin Cheever, Strides

Friday, May 31, 2013

Reality Check

Every time you train for something challenging, you have those workouts that hit you sort of like a slap in the face.  The workout that lets you know you have a lot of training ahead of you.  No???  Maybe that's just me then.

For my Rainier Climb this August, Wednesday was one of those slap-in-the-face kind of workouts.  It's funny.  I kept talking about this workout in terms that I indicated that I knew how tough it would feel..."I'm going to torture myself at the dam on Wednesday," "ready for my torture session," "maybe I'll be able to run the next day," etc.  Nonetheless, I don't think I really thought it would actually be torturous.  I thought it would be tough, but not really any tougher than my long runs or my long hikes with weight.  Sometimes I am stuck on stupid.

That morning, I made a fatal karmic mistake.  At 4:45 am, my husband woke me up as he rolled right off the side of the bed in a bundle of sheets while still sound asleep..  I laughed.  BEFORE I asked if he was okay.  After I knew he was okay, I kept giggling.  I had trouble going back to sleep for that extra 15 minutes because I just kept giggling.
Who's laughing NOW Mommy?
My plan was relatively simple, drive over to the Alum Creek Dam to be there right around sunrise, walk up the steps/hill, and run a warm-up mile and a half or so along the top of the dam.  Then run the hill next to the steps up the dam 10x, jogging down the steps as a recovery after each uphill run.  Afterwards, I would run another 1.5 miles along the top of the dam as a cool down.

Maybe it was the karmic laughter, but my stomach was rebelling a bit that morning.  It was also already soupy and humid out, so my asthma was rebelling as well.  Plus, the flocks of VULTURES hanging out all over the parking lot next to the damn steps seemed a little too fortuitous.
Your husband called and said breakfast was coming!
I got breathy WALKING up the hill next to the steps to start my warm-up above the dam.  WALKING.  This was not a good sign.  I started jogging along the top of the dam, much slower because of the asthma issues and the grass issues.  Running on grass bothers my feet and makes me very nervous about twisting an ankle.  I couldn't find a "line" in the grass that was comfortable to run on.  Strike 2.   I did, however, see a gorgeous sunrise and paused for a couple photos.  I think I was just delaying the truly hard part.
This makes that morning look so peaceful
As I got back to the stairs, I realized that my stomach was REALLY rebelling and I needed a bathroom, immediately.  Luckily, there is a full service bathroom just below the dam, so I jogged down the steps for another detour.  I swear, all the vultures were laughing at me.

After my potty break, I went back to the steps, climbed over the stair railing and started running up.  I have never felt like I was going so slow in my entire life.  And.  Oh Holy Calf Work.  I jogged back down the stairs, went down far enough to go through a gap in the railing, walk over a pile of rocks and start again.  Have I done 10 yet?  Jogged back down and repeated the process.  On the fourth time, I walked down the steps and just tried to breathe.  I paused for a minute at the base of the hill to assess why I do stuff like this.  Then back up the hill I went.  On the way back down the steps, I acknowledged that I was going to have to walk a few of the repeats if I really wanted to get 10 of them.

I walked the 6th time up.  Ran the 7th, except for the last 6 feet or so.  Walked the 8th.  Ran the 9th, forcing myself to finish those last 10 feet.  I had to pause for a minute because my legs were shaking before I walked the 10th.  Then I started my cool down miles.  I ran the opposite way from the top of the dam in order to run on pavement and gauged how far a different parking lot was away for the next time I did this nonsense.  When I got back to my car, I was 3.6 miles for the day.  Really?  That's it???  I ran around the parking lot (paying close attention to the geese and the vultures) until I hit 4 miles.  On the way home, I had to adjust the angle I had my leg at when it was on the breaks because my leg was shaking.

Clearly.  I am out of shape for hills.
But not too out of shape to take a picture at the end of it all.
I'm not sure this picture does the hill justice.
Am I REALLY going to climb a mountain???  At least I'm not crazy enough to think I'll RUN up the mountain.  (There are RMI guides that do just that!).  Good thing this workout came 3 months before my climb and I can work on improving my performance each week.

My husband asked how it went when I got home and I just stared at him.  He normally runs the steps on Wednesday nights, and was a bit surprised at my reaction.  Then I asked him if toddler rails would be an appropriate Father's Day gift.  Apparently, I hadn't learned my karmic lesson.  HAHA.

Mark ran the hill instead of the steps that night, I think so that he could tell me it was easy.  Instead, he came home and admitted that running the hill is harder than running the steps.  That made me feel a lot better!  Nonetheless, I have a lot of work to do in three months!  Plus, my calves are still tight today, 48 hours later.

This round, the damn dam hill won.  How many workouts until I get a win?  Only time will tell.  At least the vultures didn't eat me.

When was the last time you had a workout that gave you a slap in the face???

Anyone racing this weekend?  I have a 5K I'm running for free on Saturday.  :)


  1. OMG, I'm afraid to laugh because of that damned karma, but seriously this post is a little bit funny :)

    I always say that it's better to have one of "those runs" wayyyyy before the race and not the day offff the race. So embrace that and go kick some more hills' butts. Well, after your calves forgive you :)

  2. I agree with Lisa - at least this is NOW and not the week before the mountain or the week before a big race. You are really working hard and it'll pay off. We all have these workouts but we're not all honest about them.

    No race this weekend for me! Have fun at the 5K!

  3. That sounds SO tough! You are committed, and it's so inspiring. Have fun at the 5k!

  4. Your commitment really is inspiring. I agree with the others - you still have plenty of time to show those hills and stairs who's boss :) !


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