Sunday, September 16, 2007

Margaritas Are Not a Recovery Drink

Alan, Kurt, me, Moffat, and Coach Dave, charging up one of many hills on Saturday

"This is your confirmation brochure and ticket...The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon: October 7, 2007"

It arrived in the mail last week--my one-way ticket into the race.

With three weeks to go, this weekend's 21-mile training run was my final test. Is my goal time realistic? Is it time to readjust my expectations?

I wish I could say I have answers, but I'm no more sure of my abilities today than I was last week or the weeks before. One step at a time is all I can handle these days--I can't allow myself to look too far ahead for fear of finally losing my sanity for good--and it seems that October 7, 2007 will be no different.

If I just keep putting one foot in front of the other...eventually I'll make it to wherever it is that I'm going.

On Saturday we had our toughest training run of the season on tap. I spent the week prior to this run in a mixture of denial and slight anxiety. I was a little gun shy since the last long-run debacle and was just hoping for cooler weather and the ability to stay with my pace group for as long as possible.

The day started around 6 a.m. with two pieces of whole-wheat bread and peanut butter, washed down with two tall glasses of diluted Gatorade. Our route took us from West 165th Street over the George Washington Bridge into Jersey. We trekked the span of Henry Hudson Drive (commonly referred to as River Road), which is an 8-mile stretch that offered a total climb of 4,800+ feet and a nice 1.2-mile, 350-foot climb to the turn-around point.

There are all those numbers: 21 miles, 4,800 feet, heart rate at 170 (except when climbing or incorporating all the 5-minute acceleration intervals...then around 182 to 185), about a 9 minute overall pace, etc. etc. etc.

But the numbers don't mean much to me. I felt good. I made it up that last hill leading up to the bridge without walking, for the first time ever. I could pick up my pace for the last 2 miles, despite the fatigue. I wasn't rattled that my pace group could pick it up more than me during those last couple of miles. We all have our strengths. That isn't one of mine.

What made Saturday a success for me, as cliche as it sounds, was the people I shared the road with. We knew that a tough 21 miles were ahead of us, but our collective calm and easy chatter throughout the first half of it brought it back to me: This is why I am a part of this team. It's because I know Alan Lopez will be the quiet, steady one, leading us up the hills. It's because Moffat and I can catch up on each other's lives while we run across the GW Bridge. It's because we can continually crack the same tired joke about Alan being too loud and he'll just look down at me and roll his eyes. It's because Eugene makes me laugh, even when I'm exhausted, always reminding me that I shouldn't take things quite so seriously. And it's because we can all live vicariously through Kurt--the only one experiencing it all for the first time.

Those three hours on Saturday are the experiences I hold on to when I'm so overwhelmed with Race with Purpose "duties" that I think I can't handle one more minute of it. It's what gave me the energy to drive to Scarsdale after the run to help Adam sort all the singlets and just laugh when we figured out later that they were all mislabeled. [Ok, maybe not "Ha Ha" funny...but one more ridiculous story to add to our epic journey this year...].

What better way to top off a successful last long run and crazy orange singlet debacle than head out with good friends for Mexican and margaritas? It sounded like a fantastic idea at the time and don't get me wrong -- going out to blow off steam was exactly what I needed. What I clearly didn't need was margarita #2 and any of the following beer. However, thanks to Beth, the margarita was ordered and who was I to deny it?

As they say, a good time was had by all, but now the countdown officially begins. October 7th will be here in the blink of an eye. And while I'm not at all sure what to expect of myself that day, I do know that I'll once again share the road with a most rocking group of people. Maybe that's all I need to know right now.

And that margaritas are not a recovery drink.



Coach said...

What happened to the Ensure?

Strouter said...

Oh, I don't do ensure. I do coffee. And now, apparently, margaritas!