Saturday, July 26, 2008

Setting my limits

When a run is free, is it considered a race?

Today was race day.

I participated in the Catherine's Furnace 50k put on by the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club. Nothing screams 'fun' like a long run in the middle of the summer in this area. The thermometer in the car showed 66F at 7:00am and 90F at 4:30pm. Within the first 2 miles (uphill) I was pouring sweat. My hat was sweating. It was pretty humid out there. I hadn't been on this section since my MMT debacle over 2 months ago and it hadn't changed a bit; it was still hard.

I admittedly haven't been running much. I've been playing softball on my company's team/league 1x a week, Pilates, yoga, and Crossfit. Once in awhile I'll go out for a run of 30-45 minutes. Back in the day, I wouldn't consider that a run, it was a warm-up. So I was relying on my overall fitness to carry me the distance.

It carried me only so far before I realized I knew I wouldn't be able to complete the entire course. My legs and feet weren't used to the pounding and my footing was just 'off' - twisting ankles and tripping up on roots and rocks. Even the downhills on the fire roads scared me and I trashed my quads by taking them too hard and too fast with no control. Instead of running the figure 8 route, I made it a figure 6 by taking the fire road back up to the first aid station instead of tackling the dreaded Purple trail.

My GF was there helping out at the aid station, so I chilled with her and waited for a few runners I had been running with. Once they arrived, I started running again and finished up the last 6 miles. I was ready for a beer and to have my shoes off. My feet have lost all their callouses and toughness, so I now refer to them as 'bitch feet' or 'pussy feet' since they can't take the pounding. I knew it and felt it early on which was part of my reason for cutting the run short. I had a handful of people telling me to press on and fight through it.

"Back in the day" is a term I use loosely as it refers events from 10 yrs ago, 5 yrs ago, and even 1 year ago when I'd do stupid things such as racing while well undertrained or fighting through the pain. I wish I could say that I know my limits, but I don't. I'm learning what my limits are and stopping before I injure myself. I probably could've done the entire course, but I would've been miserable. Total time on my feet was just under 7 hour and I was fine with that. Going from 30 minutes to 7 hours is a big jump even if a lot of it was power walking, but it's just mentally draining.

I would like to do MMT again next year, and part of that decision will depend on how I feel in the Fall. It's not how much running I do or how many push ups I manage, but how good I feel leading up to the day entry for the race opens. If my heart isn't in it then, it won't be ready race day. I have started looking at races for the Spring season, so my heart is in the right place. I just have to get my feet there.


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