That that don't kill me, can only make me stronger. I need you to hurry up now, cause I can't wait much longer. Kanye West, Stronger

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Fast Times at Team in Training

So just as running was becoming more natural, I get an e-mail about Tuesday night practice...the test. I think the coaches purposely waited until the day of practice to send out a description of the run. We usually have a day or two to mentally prepare.

So I am reading. Okay we are going to run one mile as fast as we can, for a time. Okay, I think, no problem. This should be a quick practice. Maybe I should go to the gym, so I get in a good workout. Then I keep reading. After the mile, you will continue running the rest of the lower loop (1.7 miles total) to recover, and then you will run another mile as fast as you can. You will do this a total of three times. For those of you without your calculators, that is 5.2 miles, three of which are all out as fast as you can.

This may sound like fun...if you are a Kenyan. I, however, have never been a speedster. I am definitely the tortoise. Slow and steady, which is why I thought I might actually be able to finish this crazy 26.2 mile race. I don't care if I finish in 3 hours (maybe in another life...or body) or 6 (more likely), I just want to keep it moving and make it to the end!

So anyways, I was in a fair amount of panic by the time I got on the subway to go to practice. I decided to get a snack on the way to practice. I was fantazing about a organic banana, black cherry, cacao and almond milk smoothie from Blue Green, but I think I was too nervous to be hungry when I got off the subway. Which was lucky for two reasons, the first being I had no time to stop. I did manage to run into a deli and grab a Hint Pomegranate Tangerine Water. I have to say I had really high hopes for this water. I first saw it in an article on It is all natural with no artificial flavors. Unlike all the scary chemical Aquafina and Dasani flavored waters which use tons of artificial sweeteners. I refuse to incorporate any more splenda or aspartame into my life aside from my (diet) coke addiction.

Anyways, I was disappointed the bottle was really pretty, but the water didn't taste like anything, not even good water.

But there is also a second reason that it was good I had no time to stop for sustenance. When the coach described the workout he said, "you know you are doing it right if when you finish your first mile and you feel like you are going to puke, but you don't. By the end of the recovery you should be ready to go again.

I was not the only one. The Team was really small (maybe because it was July 3rd). We all looked like a bunch of 7th graders about to run "THE MILE." For the record, I think my all time best mile was in 7th grade, and to the best of my memory it was a 7.21 mile. I have come no where near that time in the last 11 years.

So we started with a slow jog to the starting line. I decided to go with the 9 minute 30 second heat. And we were off. I knew this was not going to be a nice conversational run. So I brought my ipod, weak. I always talk to teammates or sing if I am at the gym (much to the dismay of those on nearby treadmills), while I run. It really gets me through. Last night I could do neither. It was all I could do to utter a "How are you feeling" or "Hang in there" or a short two word response.

But I finished my first mile in 8 minutes and 36 seconds, which I was pretty happy about. I recovered and did it again. By the second recovery I was pretty damn tired and in desperate need of a water fountain. I found one, and tried to mentally prepare for the third mile. I think I can, I think I can. One step at a time. Think of all the people you are running for. Picture the children's ward at John Hopkins.

The third mile was pretty painful. For the first half, I felt like a duck moving as fast as humanly possible on land. Waddle, Waddle, Waddle. My inner thighs were searing and I actually kicked my self a few times. Very smooth. The smell of the horse poop all over the lower loop was seriously interfering with my ability to inhale deeply. Gross.

Nevertheless, my spirits remained high, and I was kind of enjoying myself. I can't believe I didn't make the cheerleading team in high school. It really is my calling.

By the last half of the mile, I was doing less waddling and more running. I finished, and man did it feel great. Kind of euphoric. No need to boot!