Where’s the Love?

Regular followers of this blog have probably picked up on a theme by now.  When my training is going well, life is all flowers and sausages, and I speak tenderly of love and camaraderie.  But when the training’s not going well, I tend to lash out.  I do things like attack sports franchises that I don’t particularly care for, say the New England Patriots or the Duke Blue Devils, for example.  Well, after the last few weeks of horrific training, I’m starting to run out of teams to attack.

The Axis of Evil? Belichick, K, and Now Accepting Applications

I guess I could rail on Notre Dame football.  But they haven’t done especially well of late – I hate to kick somebody when they’re down.

Maybe I should attack the New York Yankees.  Maybe if I did, Charlotte’s King of Running, Larry, would forgive me for picking on Wes Welker.  But Larry’s such a nice guy that I’m guessing he’s already forgiven me.  And I don’t know much about baseball so I can’t intelligently lash out at those guys – it would just be a bunch of “A-Rod sucks in the postseason and Jeter’s a jerk!”

Maybe the Lakers?  Naw, I don’t really hate the Lakers, just Kobe Bryant.  And railing on Kobe?  Well that’s just shooting fish in a barrel.  Might as well pick on Ben Roethlisberger, for chrissakes.

Yeah, so all this vitriol’s a pretty good indication of how the training has been going.  Here are the latest specifics.

Tuesday, 800’s

Valentine’s Day called for 800 meter repeats.  The good news?  The lights were on, illuminating Davidson’s field for lady lacrosse practice, and, by proxy, the track for me.  My watch, uncharacteristic of late, was working perfectly.  The weather was perfect.  And the good stuff pretty much ends there.

A nasty cold a week earlier, combined with a shortage of asthma medicine, had left my lungs ravaged – I struggled to breathe.  My legs felt like someone had strapped half a dozen 45-lb plates to them.  Sometimes I start a run like this and miraculously feel better about 3 miles in, so when 2 miles, the prescribed warm-up, came and went, I kept jogging in hopes I would suddenly start feeling better.  I didn’t.

After the first miserably slow 800, I called it – workout time of death, 6:25 PM.  I gave up on the 800’s and just slogged around the track to at least get some miles in.  This workout was one big fat FAIL.

When I finally left the track, I was bitter and mad at the world.  When a little lacrosse girl smiled at me, I flipped her off.  Okay, not really, but I wanted to – I was not exactly filled with love at that moment.  I didn’t actually flip off any of the lacrosse girls, but probably only because they carry sticks and that scares me a little.

During my workout, I avoided making eye contact with these girls. Maybe they remind me of Mad Max a little too much.

I topped this crap sundae of a day with a crap cherry when I went home and went to bed, alone (did I mention it was Valentine’s Day?), before 9:00 p.m.

Friday, Tempo

During my tempo workout, the lungs still jacked, I felt like I was trying to breathe under water.  But I stubbornly refused to quit another stress workout having already bailed once this week.  So I soldiered on.  Desperately wheezing and gasping, as I began the second of two 2-mile repeats, I started seeing stars, with darkness pressing in around my peripheral vision (those of you that have ever passed out will recognize this phenomena).  Incredibly frustrated, I succumbed and gave up on the second workout in a week – as much as I like to run, I like to breathe, and live for that matter, even more.  So I stopped, cursed, and walked until I could breathe again, then I slogged it in.

Saturday, Shake-out

Saturday, I felt much better as I crossed West Catawba in Cornelius to head down to the trail behind Birkdale.  Once across, I only had to continue about 50 feet on the shoulder of the busy road before I could relax and reach the very lightly traveled back road.  But a truck that refused to give an inch forced me off the road, and bam, I stepped in a hole, hidden by grass, and twisted my left ankle.  F-bombs, and a “Really?!” screamed at the top of my lungs.  But hey, at least I could breathe.

Sunday, Long Run

Sunday morning, Kevin, aka the Gypsy Kid, met me at Davidson to hit the trails. When I pulled up and got out of the car, the first words Kevin uttered were, “You look older than I remember”.

“I haven’t shaved – there’s a lot of gray in my beard.  And I am older.”

It was cold and rainy, my left ankle (courtesy of yesterday’s jackass in a truck) and Achilles hurt, but thanks to a refill of Advair, at least the lungs seemed to be functioning at something approaching normalcy.

Kevin and I did a lot of catching up – it had been months since we last ran together – and I felt relatively fine early on.  We covered about 8 miles looping through the cross-country trails.

Then we headed away from campus and towards the greenway.  Slowly, imperceptibly at first, the third of my three workouts of the week started unraveling.  I felt bad for Kevin as my pace slowed to a slog, one that was obviously too slow for him, but he graciously, mercifully, slowed down to keep me company.  I struggled to hang on the rest of the way and when we made it back to the campus parking lot, I had covered 15 miles (Kevin, having run 2 before I arrived, finished 17).  The thought of having to run 11 more miles scared me.  It scared me a lot.

Afterword

I wrote most of this entry a week ago.  I was so frustrated with the week that I didn’t bother to post what I had written.

Sometimes when you’re training, you feel like the only person in the world that’s ever had a bad workout.  21st century social media doesn’t help when all your running friends are posting things like “I had the greatest workout of my life today!”  And while you’re struggling to crack an 8-minute mile, the folks you could once outrun are posting things like “I ran an 8-mile tempo at 6:05 pace!”  Open wound, insert salt.

But with advanced age comes wisdom (sometimes, if you’re lucky).  I’m finally getting to the place where I don’t compare my workouts with those of others.  I also learned a long time ago that when things are going bad, pushing harder is not always the answer – I’ve gotten injured more than once when I tried to push too hard on a day when I just didn’t have it.  In the immortal words of track guru Kenny Rogers:

You’ve gotta know when to hold ’em

Know when to fold ’em

Know when to walk away

And know when to run.

Last week, I did a lot of walking away.  I’m not happy or proud about it, but sometimes in life, you have to do these things.

One week later, and things have gone considerably better.  I was finally able to get more asthma medicine and the lungs feel like they’re starting to come back around.  I ran a tempo on Friday and actually hit all the splits and death didn’t feel imminent once.  Later today, I’ll go for a long run and see how that goes – I gotta believe it’ll be better than last week.  If things continue this way, next week look for the kumbaya post filled with love and sappy things.

Boston looms large.  Only 7 weeks away.  Rooms reserved, flights booked, and nerves starting to set in.  Strap yourselves in and enjoy the ride!

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2 Responses to “Where’s the Love?”

  1. Hammer Says:

    Yo Tracker, stay with it kid! you get too hard on yourself. Think Kahunas style like Coach says.

  2. Caitlin Chrisman Says:

    Yeah I ditched an 800m workout too on Friday. It was just ugly. Everyone has just shit-tastic workouts and you have to walk away, cross them off the list, and shrug it off. It’s just your body’s way of telling you it’s a little bit tired. Usually my shittiest weeks of training are followed by my best.

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