Saturday, May 26, 2007

Blessings

Based on today, I think there's a good chance that I'll come in very, very close to last in this race. I think I'll finish, but it is going to be difficult. I have such respect for athletes - more than ever, now that I've worked so hard for a full year to be ready for this event.

I went to Pawling today to familiarize myself with the course. I stopped off at a running shop nearby first, where the guy who waited on me was probably still in high school but seemed quite sure that he knew what he was talking about. The proprietor was helping another woman - someone who looked like a serious marathoner-type. I kept glancing his way as I explained my situation, hoping he'd kibbitz or offer some suggestions, but he kept his focus on his own customer - a vote of confidence in his staff person, I guess. The young man told me my shoes do fit me, and are the right sort for my pronating feet, but sold me some new orthotics with stiffer arch support. He recommended I break them in an hour or two a day (not running) for a week before running in them - which precludes using them in the race. I'm not convinced that's gonig to solve my problem, but I bought the orthotics, knowing I can return them if they don't work out.

Then it was off to Pawling, where I managed, eventually, to find Lakeside Park. The lake itself is long and narrow (someone told me it's an old quarry) and filled with algae, seaweed, lots of fish - ick. Nobody was swimming and there was a huge sign saying "Swimming without a lifeguard is strictly forbidden" - so I waded in to gauge the temperature (not too cold) and looked around trying to guess how they'd set it up for 540 people and all their bikes, gear, cars, friends, etc. Then I drove the course to see how hilly it was - in the car, it seemed pretty reasonable. There was another guy in a battered old silver van doing the same thing, and I figured once I got on my bike I'd see him again, but he disappeared. It was in the mid-80's and humid, and I wasn't sure I wanted to do the workout, but as usual I talked myself into it by saying, 'Just do a mile or two, then you can turn back if you want."

Without going too much into detail I can say this: the bike course is gorgeous, and really really hard. The hills were much steeper and there were more of them than I'd realized - I was gasping for air, pushing as hard as I could, and still had to stop quite a few times. It took me a full hour to go 12 miles, which would place me last or pretty close to it based on last year's results. It's hard to believe I'm that slow, but the clock doesn't lie! But gorgeous it is - the rolling hills and valleys, ponds and streams, ancient-looking classic New England farms, the animals (including a newborn foal with its mother) - the smells and sounds of spring - that's what I mean when I titled this post "blessings." I had no idea, when I set out to do this project, how much more I'd get from it besides improved fitness and weight loss. But I was thinking today as I rode: I grew up in a city (Detroit) longing for fresh air and open spaces. I always wished I lived in the country, near animals, somewhere I could go swimming in summer. Now I do - and I'm realizing how lucky I amt hat this dream has come true and that I'm here, and healthy enough, to enjoy it.

After the ride I was whipped - just absolutely dead in the legs. But I felt I had to do the run too, to find out if I could. I took a long time to transition, fiddling with my old shoe inserts, messing with water, gatorade, Gu's and bananas. Next week I'll have all this organized so I can just switch shoes and go. As expected my feet felt like lead - less expected was a terrible cramp in my side that held me back for the first 10 minutes or so - from the strange "energy potions" I'd been eating and drinking, perhaps. I walked up all the steep hills, but chugged around the 3-mile course in about 35 minutes. I'm not sure where the official start and finish of the run is, so can't verify my time exactly, but that would get me somewhere in the bottom tenth (but not last). My feet and knees actually felt OK in my shoes (old inserts, not new) but I have an idea for how I can tinker with the right one - I think I'll cut the original insert that came with the shoe in half, and just put the front half back inside. That should take up the extra room just a touch, and make it feel more secure.

Got back to the lake and stood waist deep in the mucky water for a while, hoping the fish wouldn't bite. I felt a little wierd on the drive home, but continued to gulp gatorade, though I've always hated it! I went to my local pond thinking I'd do a swim there but couldn't get up the energy - the water was much colder but I felt silly putting my wetsuit on for a swim at the beach, when all the little kids were splashing around in just their swimsuits. So I lounged around a while and then went home to find my family, who were peacefully enjoying a summery afternoon - Fred dead asleep upstairs, girls playing quietly downstairs (all the couch cushions on the floor, dolls, doll furniture, fabric swatches and other items set up in some extremly complicated arrangement - just a typical weekend afternoon for them.

So now, it's T-6. I'm thinking about how best to spend this last week - making sure all my stuff is organized, doing some moderate to light workouts but resting the last few days, eating well and most important for me, getting enough sleep. And - counting my blessings, for they are many and bountiful!

5 comments:

GeekGirl said...

Hi, Jenny - I wanted to thank you for commenting on my blog, and to let you know that I never touch gatorade unless I'm doing a low-grade aerobics class, or maybe spinning. The sucrose make my stomach upset. If you got cramps, that's probably why. The sucrose doesn't absorb as well as maltdextrine, which is the leading sugar in most of the better energy drinks. Just my two cents!

GeekGirl said...

PS: I'll do an energy drnk about an hour before the swim, but not before I run. Again, the sucrose.

LBTEPA said...

In my last triathlon I came 1036 out of 1044 people - it wasn't so bad! Try not to worry about it!

RUTH said...

So what if you do come last...it doesn't matter a jot. Will be proud of you and proud to blogknow you just for the fact you are making the attempt. Hope the shoes work out ok.
Rx

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

I finished 4th from last in my race last weekend. I enjoyed myself and the other athletes were very supportive.

Don't worry about anyone else out there. Just run your own race, and enjoy the experience!