Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One More Mile

In my previous three workouts (bike 90 minutes, run 50 minutes - flat course, run 50 minutes - hills) I’ve noticed an interesting trend. About halfway through the workout, when I decide to negative split it, I push myself hard and wonder, “Can I work so hard that I vomit?” So I push and push and push … And with detached curiosity, I monitor my gut. So far, I am 0-3. No vomit. But definitely some rumbling.

It’s a new development in my training. I like endurance events – the longer the better - that’s what she said – because they allow you to plod along for hours on end, with little concern for a rapid, feverish pace. So in my training, I do a lot of plodding to the tune of zone 2-3 heart rate. Once in a while I amp it up to a zone 4-5 workout. But I never stack them on back-to-back days.

So this recent kick to push my heart rate to the infamous zone 6 (read: like an 11.0 earthquake) has me intrigued. I’m not sure where the no-holds-barred, let’s-dig-deep-and-find-the-speed-demon is coming from.

Admittedly, each of my run, bike and swim average paces have become faster since IMCDA. I don’t know if I credit a mental shift or better health (read: sleep!!). I’m really not sure.

All I know is that when my iPod hits the right song three-quarters of the way through my run, I feel my feet flutter faster and my body moves quicker across space and time. Now, I’m not the fastest runner, but holding a 6:50-7:15 pace for more than a couple miles is definitely a noted change.

During these kicks, my brain goes to my current mantra: the lyrics from Paper Tongues’ One More Mile. I repeat over and over again, “Girl, it’s just a mile / it’s not that far / You can somehow” and off I go. My abs tighten up. My chest gets stiff. My arms swing furiously and I bound along – the front-foot striker that I am – toward some undefined finish line.

It hurts. But it’s a good hurt. The kind of hurt where you feel your muscles breaking down, sacrificing themselves in the name of fulfilling potential.
I ran. I ran until my muscles burned and my veins pumped battery acid. Then I ran some more. - Narrator, Fight Club

Not a picture of Edward Norton…

Time comes to a standstill as I dodge past cars, bushes, bikers and my own limits. Nothing touches me but the pavement below. I'm a machine - channeling my bike chain or the joints in my lower body. Effort in equals effort out. I escape.

And when the workout is over, I’m drenched in sweat. My head is pounding. My lungs are crying mercy, and I’m smiling one of those dopey, doped-up grins. Because somewhere in those last couple miles I scratched the surface of that potential. The Boston Marathoner. The sub-20 5K-er. Kona. The runner.

And in the tomorrow that follows, I hope to be a little faster. A little braver. Dig a little deeper and find a little more. To do it all again, for one more mile.

Final Thought: You learn you can do your best even when it's hard, even when you're tired and maybe hurting a little bit. It feels good to show some courage. -Joe Namath

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