My first double digit mile run. At this point I can’t describe the feeling. Its a sense of achievement, joy and simple amazement at what I’ve been able to push my body to accomplish in the last few weeks. But today I am gasping with amazement as I think about the incredibly crazy (and stupid) course that I ran, the run that Rogue calls the Run from Hell.
I almost decided not to do this run. I’ve been doing physiotherapy every week for 2 weeks, been trying to keep up with the PT exercises at home in the midst of the running schedule and a sudden onslaught of responsibilities at work (no complaints). I’m sure if I asked the therapist specifically, she would have recommended not to run – she did say avoid hills. I had the option of doing the Sunday run with Rogue, which is also 10 miles but on Townlake trail (easy = boring!). But then Asha was throwing this breakfast social after the run and I didn’t want to show up all showered and fresh to celebrate a 10-mile run that I would do the next day. I wanted to be there, deserving and with glory. I wanted to taste victory over these Austin hills.
Over the week I ran about 6.5 miles on Tuesday at the Warhurst workout and 3.7 miles on my own on Thursday. The Warhurst this time felt almost easy. Perhaps its because my legs have gotten stronger or I’ve become a lot more comfortable with my pace. It really doesn’t matter anymore whether I lag behind everyone else. So if you’ve read the first Warhurst post – its 1 mile at Half Marathon Goal Pace (HMGP) and 800 meters (~1/2 mile) at 10-K pace. The run @ HMGP was easier and I did it in 12.12 minutes. I raced through the 800 meters a bit too fast and though I did it in 5.30 minutes, I knew I could do it only because it was 1/2 mile. Coach said that’s not the point – you should be running a 10K at that pace. She said I should be putting in a short run once or twice a week on my own to gain strength and pace.
Wed was PT – I told them about the niggling pain on the right knee (this is new). They did a few stress tests on my knees and hips and concluded I have weak hips (Bharath’s reaction was “How are you going to give birth? Talk about the selfish gene :)). So in addition to the calf workouts, I now have 2 hip-strengthening exercises to do. One is lying on the side with back against a wall and opening and closing a diamond with the legs and the second raising the lower leg up as far as possible in the same position. They’re harder than they sound. I can definitely feel my hips talking.
Based on Coach’s advice, I decided I would run Thursday morning. So Thur morning I charted out a 3.5-4 mile loop in the neighborhood. I ran up Bull Creek, right on 45th upto Lamar and back home via Shoal Creek and 38th. I don’t think I enjoyed that run. It was really cold, close to 44 degrees. I dressed warmly (in my new warmies from amazon), but because it was cold I couldn’t run slow. I started kind of fast and then back on Shoal Creek, up a tiny little incline my legs wouldn’t cooperate. They ached. When Jairam sent out the email about the Run from Hell, I was scared. I couldn’t run up Shoal Creek, how the hell would I run up Mt. Bonnell?
So I mailed Coach and she gave me a thumbs up. Said, run easy, don’t race and its ok to walk up some of the hills. Bharath was against this stupid idea. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do it. I was nervous about strain and injury but something told me, if I take it easy and listen to my body, I can do this. I can run 10 miles and I can do it on a hilly course.
The first 3 miles were painful and demotivating as usual, to say the least. Then I thought of taking my first gel pack. For long runs, you have to take nutrition with you. It was a salty-sweet tangy tangerine flavor that I washed down with water. It’s supposed to have effects with a lag but somehow I felt better instantly. So much so, we ran 0.7 miles off-course down Mesa. I was running with Carlene and another girl, Jenna followed us down the wrong path. So we backtracked and followed the map closely (see pic). The first crazy hill was Ponton Pl, it was tiny and the girls decided to walk it. I tried running it and gave up. The second and the worst hill (probably steeper than 45 degrees or at least it felt so) was Dry Creek Dr. Walking up that hill took the wind out of me! And then finally, beautiful, majestic Mt. Bonnell.
If you’ve been to Austin or live here, you have to have seen Mt. Bonnell. Its gorgeous and Austin’s answer to Hollywood Hills or even better. I have trouble driving up the hill sometimes and have to step on the pedal with poor Corolla. But I was going to run this one. Maybe not all of it, but even 100 meters was something. And I did. I ran up about half the Mt. Bonnell part, especially where the hill plateaued or was less steep, I ran it. Cat Mt Dr. was not so much fun either. And I was glad for the girls. They were my guardian angels on this hellish run. Because of them I ran a bit but knew it was ok not to strain and it was ok to walk it.
The last 3-4 miles were on auto-pilot. I’d consumed my second gel at mile at Dry Creek. I felt like I was crashing from the high going down Mesa again. We stopped for water with 2.5 miles to go till the finish. After that, the run felt anaerobic. I was breathing easy, I was hot and tired but I have no idea how my legs just kept moving. It felt fantastic. Down Far West, it was hot and sunny and I squeezed my bottle over my head a few times. Back on Shoal Creek, I met Vish and Charanya, from SoH who offered to give me a ride till the end. The watch showed 10.31. I had been running for just under 3 hours. Thinking back to the detours and missed turns, I was comfortable I’d covered 10 miles. So I tucked in my tail and hopped into their car to realize INCREDIBLE PAIN all through my legs. It lasted about 30 minutes.
At the breakfast social, I got a nice little cert. from SoH recognizing my 10-miler and a new tee from Asha for having crossed my fundraising mark! Felt great to be recognized, thank YOU Asha for giving me this sense of achievement:).