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"Don't let your happiness depend on something you may lose." ~C. S. Lewis

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PostHeaderIcon LA race review

Why the hesitation or procrastination to write about my race on the 27th? Perhaps because it didn’t measure up remotely to what my expectations were. And no, that’s not a life analogy, and that’s another post anyway. It’s more that I thought it would go different, I thought I was in a different place. Sure I’d lost a bunch of weight (read: five pounds in seven days, a ‘bunch’ for me) so perhaps my reserves were low and I’d done a training run with fewer days to go than normal, but given the other kinds of prep, mentally, I’d been up to, I really expected something different. And the recovery…

Morning started great – didn’t sleep much that night but that’s not exactly unsurprising. Rarely do I sleep like a baby night before a race. But I woke, and ate, starting my prep right on time. No coffee as I’d not been in the mood for it for a week or so anyway, but the yogurt, the chia, the banana, the tea, all good. And I wrote! I love writing on race morning, it gets me in the zone. And I had quiet time, just me, in the room so I was able to lift the energy with some Mozart and inspirational mantras. I knew I would at some point be seeing family and friends, so I had that to look forward to.

Perhaps part of the issue is that I haven’t done a race for four months? HA – when did that become an “issue”? Was I rusty? Out of practice? I felt actually quite strong heading into the race, having eaten healthy for quite a while and rarely engaging in sugar or alcohol. Plus, and most importantly, my head and heart were healthy, healthier than they’ve been in a while.

So I was excited. And pulled all my various pieces together for my gear bag drop off and post-race nourishment to race out the door and walk downhill by 15-20 minutes. Didn’t get much in the way of a core warmup as per usual, but with no gym (closed for renovations) to head to, it got lost in my morning lineup.

Headed for the elevator and end up with three people, a couple and another woman. The couple says they’re walking, as do I so the woman changes her mind about a cab and decides to walk, asking if we can walk together. Sure, I say, and in all honesty, I didn’t want to randomly chat before my run. I wanted to stay in my space, in my warmup of a walk and in my emotional and mental state of being. And looking forward to the run.

She chatted the whole way and it was a whole lot of negative energy vibing at me. I am still curious as to what that was all about, what my lesson in it was. I kept voting her victory and vowed to let her energy bounce off me and not effect me, but as I look back now, I wonder if some of it did in fact do so. She was cackling for blocks about some poor drunk girl her and her friends were laughing at in Vegas, who fell into the pool of her own vomit at a bar and dragged her jerk of a boyfriend with her. Oh, it was THE funniest thing she’s EVER seen. She said that five times. And regrets not getting it all on her phone camera. Seriously? Felt weird to be having this conversation as the sun is rising and we’re heading to a race. There’s other various and sundry comments about how old “we” are (speak for yourself, lady!) to ever hope to win or accomplish anything, how expensive it is for her to live in South Lake Tahoe and that so many have it so much better, some warranted comments about the tigers in a cage at the Rock n Roll Vegas race last December (poor tigers :(), as well as a LOT of aggression about “I don’t care about people with chrohn’s or colitis, the charity for Vegas, they brought it on themselves with the crap they eat. The ASPCA – the LA race charity – I can get behind” and then also brought up that people with cancer fare no better in her estimation.

S’cuse me? Um. If she didn’t keep saying superlatives like ALL, EVERYONE, NEVER, ALWAYS etc, I might have let it slide. But she was actually and seriously blaming ALL people suffering from those diseases and therefore, she’d never support those charities nor have compassion for them.

Eventually, I couldn’t really keep quiet, it seemed to be way over the top so I said, hey, I know quite a few people who eat well, watch organic food intake (not just eat vegetarian or what have you) and also live healthy lifestyles, and still have dealt with those and other diseases. Do you mean to tell me they’re all at fault too? Could it be they lost the genetic lottery in that instance? And yes, I brought up my dad, who had colitis in the ’80’s, was put on massive steroids for years and eventually got lymphoma of the brain and died of that cancer. Ironically, it was easier to eat cleaner in the ’70’s and ’80’s because there were less choices and a LOT fewer chemicals and genetically modified foods. AGain, pretty sure I don’t go around thinking my dad brought it all on himself.

At that, she conceded, said, sure, I can see that point. Still, it was an odd, very odd interaction and left me shaking my head a bit. We walked over to the gear bag section and said our goodbyes and good lucks. I said, thanks, I’m happy to be hear, happy to be running, and know it will be a great race. Then she says, oh yes, great attitude, that’s what I wake up with everyday, no matter what, just enjoy life. I almost laughed as it was SO incongruent to the energy that enveloped our interaction from the get go (it literally started off with her doing an impression of Butthead of Beavis and Butthead when I said I flew in from Seattle. Um. Awesome.) Just. Odd.

Looking back, I could’ve and should’ve done something to shift that interaction energetically for my race to feel different. As it was, I was excited to get out there, use my Salted Caramel GU, and tackle this race in my new MV3s.

First few miles felt good, music going in my ears, legs moving and yet… And yet, the calves were speaking from the get go. I wasn’t expecting that. Looking back, yep, an eight mile run on Monday night, four mile run on Tuesday and then jumproping on Wednesday or Thursday – probably NOT the best idea even though I’m in shape and feeling strong. Silly me.

Breath feeling strong and overall body feeling lean and strong but my calves. Dammit. Well, keep going. That’s just what you do. I noticed the mile markers weren’t coming up as quickly as I’m used to. Usually not a good sign. But, still, felt good, felt swift, felt possible. Maybe I’d crush this LA race. Maybe it’d be my LA PR. Maybe it’d be my best time in two years! I started to really focus on that and enjoy the feeling of the possibility. That was nice. I started to feel some real speed a few times too, gentle and sustained. Ok, not bad. Super aware of where we’re at, running through USC and the stadium, still littered with game goers debris from the day before. And then we’re heading back up, an out and back type of course. I feel like I’m laboring a bit more than I’d like to be. Ugh.

No matter, keep going. Soon I get to have my first GU. It’s just that, well, it was a little muggy this morning in the warm fog and I’m warmer sooner than normal on a 13.1 course. Oh. Gee. Maybe it could be that scratchy throat that came on quite suddenly on Friday afternoon after flying and the vitamin c and other nutrients you poured down your throat all day Saturday. Maybe it’s that!?!

And. It could also be the reluctant anticipation of the bridge hill at mile nine. The first year I didn’t know about it and dealt as it came upon me, the second year I knew it was there but was in beast mode with three races in six weeks so I didn’t think much on it. This year, as it gets closer, I seem to be slowing down. And my heart’s racing a bit too. Starting to feel light headed. Ok, that’s what made me walk in 2011 so not doing that again. If I have to pass out on the course, that’s far more acceptable. Right? Brain thinks crazy thoughts when running…

I deal the hill, I run the whole thing and feel pretty decent about that. As I’m 2/3 way done with the bridge as a whole, I pass mile 10. Ok, I can do this. I can run three more miles in the labored, light headed, heart racing state. Yeah, so my calves are in effect actually trying to exit my body via my throat, but, Ima keep going.

It’s getting more difficult. I’m debating with myself about stopping, not stopping, walking, not walking, pride and self-care. Precious seconds feel like minutes and city blocks like miles. It’s beginning to take over, the pain over the triumph, and I feel myself giving over. Don’t do it! I cry out. Keep going! I scream. You got this! I exhale. And for a minute, I do. For a minute, I keep going, knowing I can do this. And then that other me comes back, not having retreated as I had assumed. The other me says, no, it’s ok, you can walk for a ten second spell, you’re fine, you’re already so fast it won’t matter. Just do it.

This goes on for a half mile. I hit mile 11 and keep running. I get close to mile 12 and the debate completely ceases. There’s no noise, no discussion, no decision. I just stop. And as I take a step to walk for five, maybe ten seconds, my breath catches in my chest. My hand goes to my throat and I can’t take another step.

My legs have seized. Every ounce of adrenaline I have pools immediately into my calves. My hands fly to my waist and I bend over, not wanting anyone to mistake my sweat for the tears they have become. My body won’t move. My legs are like lead. I take a step and force, literally force with my hands on my quads, my legs to keep moving. It’s the exquisite pain of this exercise that somewhat breaks me out of my revelry. The daze of the seized muscles is broken by the pain of moving, so for a minute, I come back to myself, and say, girl, go. Do this. The worst thing you can do is stop now. You really are almost there.

I’m a fraud. I’m not a good runner. I can’t pull my shit together anymore. I’ll have barely the accomplishment of finishing at this point. But isn’t that what it’s REALLY all about? I often say that, no matter how I get across the finish line, getting across the finish line is really the only goal. But this. I thought I could slow down for a second and get moving again. I’m now practically delirious with pain and having SUCH trouble moving my legs. Just walking is a gift right now. So I keep walking. Holy where’s a red flyer wagon when you need one, Batman? I do NOT want to walk the last mile and a half. Gawd. How did this happen and why do I still feel like I want to throw up or pass out?

After what feels like forever, more likely a couple minutes (perhaps a whole song?), I decide to try again, to run again. While I thought this run might be a kind of test of where I’m at now, this isn’t even remotely what I had in mind. So I run a bit, and head into the tunnel to take a left onto Flower, the final road that leads straight to the finish line. Halfway through the tunnel, up hill, I pull over to the far right to walk again. I’d scream in frustration but I’m too exhausted and frankly, confused. And sad.

I used my personal and beautiful affirmations to inspire myself and support myself through this race. And they helped and now I feel lost. Am I so disconnected? Am I even still a runner? I know I must be as the last few runs I’ve had have been amazingly cool experiences, so how could this be this now? My heart feels like it’s skipping beats in my chest and I actually feel some physical pain on the left side, so as I come through the tunnel back into daylight, I’m clutching my chest with my right hand and someone steps forward in a gesture of “are you ok?” and I kindly and gratefully wave them off.  Determination wins again. Or stubbornness. Whichever.

The act of taking a left onto Flower for the last long stretch helps me pick speed and energy, even though it’s quite painful. At this point, I’m just ticking off each street block as I run through an intersection. Third Street. Oh, Fourth Street. I see Sixth Street in the distance, and realize I have five more blocks after that. Five long blocks. Who am I and where did “me” go?

I do begin to pick up some kind of ability to run, even though my body is protesting in a way it never has before. And I get through the final chute to cross the finish line. I’m confused, frustrated and mad at the clock. And I want so badly to walk into the medical tent and pass out. This couldn’t have been less “my race.” And that makes two in row. Late June and now this.

I stumble around for longer than normal, trying to get my bearings. Trying to catch my breath. Trying to right the ship. I down one then two cold bottles of water, grab my medal and take a couple can’t-be-good post-race pictures. As I wander ungracefully through the finishers chute, pass the couples kissing, the proposals, the flowers offered and all the family and friend congratulations, emotion wells up and I’m more grateful than ever I have my sunglasses on even though there’s no sun. In my purposeful but also slower than preferred gait, I make a beeline to my gear bag to get whatever I can to make myself feel better. And my phone.

My sister walks up soon thereafter and sits down with me. We’re arranging our day and chatting but I’m terrified, in reality, to get up and move again. As I ask for her help to pull me up, I recognize the severity of the pain my legs are in. Not. Normal. Not for me. Not like this.

I do pretty  much whatever I can in terms of foods, liquids, rest, aleve and more to take care of myself and it helps. Even remembered the compression socks to ease some of the discomfort. Stretch out some downward dogs too. And I find out my time, which is FAR slower than I expected and immediately put the spin on it of where my percentage of placement was in my division. Makes me feel a little better. But I’ve got a little voice in the back of my head that’s concerned about this, that’s worried about this affect and betting on a quick recovery…

So, LA third time was a charm in fact. Granted, I thought third time being a charm meant I would run it faster than the first two, but instead, I’m not planning to run that one again next year. There’s many other races, routes and courses I can tackle in 2014 and with my next race in Savannah one week away today, I’m putting my attention towards that.

Thanks, Magic, and Kareem, and Chick and Jerry – you’ve been great cheerleaders from Staples Center, and I loved hanging out with you. I’ll see you some other time, I hope, just not for this race.

 

 

 

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