I’ve been part of Team in Training for three years now, long enough to know that when Coach Tim says, “you’re going to be going up a little hill,” I know that he’s a liar. “Little hill” translates to “you’re going to be climbing up a vertical incline so steep that you’ll wish you had Everest-style oxygen tanks.”
But before I dig into that story, let’s go back to the beginning of the week.
Eight weeks ago, at our Tuesday night track practice, we did run benchmarks. The idea is that you run a timed mile at some abysmal pace, and then eight weeks later you repeat the process to show how much the training has improved your time. Now, I’m not going to tell you my abysmal original time (hindered in large part by the stabbing knee pain brought on by my cranky IT band), but in eight weeks of physical therapy, training and general strengthening, I shaved 1 minute and 33 seconds off my mile and got within about 30 seconds of my goal per-mile pace for a 5k. Not awful.
So I was feeling good and optimistic when we entered this weekend’s long run: 6-ish miles through gorgeous redwood forests in Oakland at Redwood Regional Park. Ignoring the hilliness of it (did I mention it was hilly?), the run was one of the most beautiful that I’ve ever done. I watched the sunrise illuminate the top of the hills first before it dipped down into our valley at Canyon Meadow, which is always a good way to start a day.
We headed out in two groups: marathoners first, followed by half marathoners half an hour later. We went up a small hill, a bigger hill, and then started climbing up and up and up. I abandoned running early on, then switched from running to hands-on-knees propulsion, and was debating crawling the rest of the way when the water stop miraculously appeared. Additional hydration and electrolytes! I was saved!
(Side note about water stops: know what’s more gross than Gatorade? Low-calorie, artificially sweetened Gatorade G2. I took one sip and spit it out in the bushes. Disgusting beyond measure.)
It was much hotter than usual in Oakland. Usually you can count on cool, foggy temperatures. Not this time. By the time we returned to the car, it was in the 90s, and felt every bit that hot.
I ran 6 miles total, but adding on a 25% heat and hill bonus, that counts for at least 7.5 effective miles, right?
Saturday was also our honoree picnic, a joint run with the Bayside team to hear the stories of our patient honorees, the ones we run for. We had more than 100 participants, mentors, captains and coaches gathering inspiration from these people who just don’t ever give up.
Where did you run this weekend?