For the past couple of months, I have been working with a personal trainer Ertan. He’s an old school Turkish badass with a weird sense of humor and a love for country music. Andy and I scrutinized our budget and found a few bucks a week that would allow me to work out with him. Plus my company has a wellness program that pays for a small part of the sessions.
Each Tuesday at 6am, Ertan runs me through a 50 minute high intensity workout that leaves me exhausted. We do all major muscle groups using weights. He has me throw medicine balls, jump, and push sleds (Rocky style) across the gym. At first, I was so sore I could barely walk. Now I’m very tired but not so sore that getting up from a seated position is a major undertaking.
Honestly I didn’t notice any change to my running when I first started. But most of my friends do some type of boot camp or personal trainer and swear by it. My coworker Emily says that she’s managed to shave a minute off of her mile. Eventually I noticed that my back and shoulders didn’t hurt after long runs. As much as Smith Rock hurt, I wondered if I could have completed it if I hadn’t been working with Ertan each week.
This last weekend I ran 24 miles with my friend Travis.
The next day I noticed that my muscles were tired but not sore. In the past 24 miles would have sidelined me for the rest of the day. And I would have been hobbling around the next day. Yesterday Andy and I went on a big walking adventure that included walking down to Oaks Park.
Today I feel great.
I ran Smith Rock on Saturday and ran the first in the Portland Trail Series on Wednesday evening. My legs were sore, tired and so sluggish but I showed up and ran my heart out.
My goal was to not be last. And I wasn’t.
I’ve wrote this blog post while running this race but promptly forgot it as soon as I crossed the finish line. And it was funny. Not really. I’m sure it was whiny and pathetic because that’s how I felt while running. I made so many mistakes:
1. I didn’t take this race seriously. I looked at the elevation chart and thought that the training I was doing was going to be good enough.
2. I forgot about running at elevation.
3. I didn’t bring my hydration pack.
4. My nutrition was totally off the day before which impacted my day of.
5. I didn’t wear sunscreen.
There were only 50 people signed up for this race. 50 really fit better runners than me. But that probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I’m sure that’s what I won’t remember about this race years from now. Fact is I was last in this race.
The pack left me behind right away which I fully expected. Actually after looking at everyone, I knew I was going to finish last. So I decided to try and have the best day I could have.
At the 1.5 mile mark, the negative thoughts jumped on top of me and pummeled me down. I was too fat, too slow, too stupid. Why the hell had I signed up for this race? I had no right to be on the same course as some of these people. I was a pretend runner. I had all the gear but I was a fraud. I should turn back now. I was having serious doubts at 1.5 miles. How was I going to even get halfway let alone run the entire 15 miles. And this wasn’t even the hardest part of the race. Then my stomach turned. I was hungry. And I only had 2 gels and 3.5 miles until the next aid station. So I stopped, ate one of the gels and took some photos.
My knee hurt, I was drowning in self doubt and honestly wanted to cry. But I thought about all the times I told people being a slow runner didn’t matter. How I played it all off like it didn’t bother me. And if I quit this race this 15 mile race, then I was liar. And I couldn’t let all those people down. I couldn’t let Andy down after he drove all the way to Bend and woke up early to support me. But seriously, how was I going to do this. My pace up the hill was ridiculously slow. I was dripping with sweat and was struggling to catch my breath.
Then I got to the top of the hill and was passed by Jesus. Okay so it was Jesus but it may have been. He had long brown hair, no shirt on and homemade sandals. But I’d like to think that Jesus would have helped me up the hill. The RD said the hill started around mile 3. I turned and saw the steepest trail I’ve ever seen. I swallowed the puke and began my slow walk up the hill. I got about 200 feet up the hill and then turned my Garmin off and decided to take a DNF. This course was just too hard.
I got the bottom of that hill and realized that I had gone the wrong way. That wasn’t part of course. I decided to keep going. And then the course got okay. Things flattened out a bit and I was able to start running again. And I liked that. A lot. There was a wonderful breeze that helped me feel a lot better even if I was only 4.6 miles in and saw who would be the winner passing me.
I got to the first aid station and was greeted by the nicest lady ever. She told me exactly what to expect before I turned around. The course unmarker aka sweeper Jesse ran with me intermittently from there on. He was a super nice guy and I really appreciated the company.
At mile 7.5 I began the slow haul up the biggest mountain I’ve ever run up. I hiked 30 steps and then would stop and take 2 big breathes. I kept doing this until I had to hike 20 steps and take 2 breathes. As I climbed and climbed, I was able to take less and less steps until I was down to 7. The mountain just kept going and going and going. I thought I would never get to the top.
But I did. Then the wind picked up and totally freaked me out. The descent was hard. It was very steep and it was very hard to run. Jesse said that it really wasn’t runnable and coming from a guy who had done Leadville, I felt confident he knew what he was talking about.
I ignored the blister developing on my big toe and gritted my teeth trying to move as fast as I could down the mountain. Miles 10-13 actually went by really fast. I was able to make up a little time by running rather than all the hiking I had been doing. After mile 13 I really started feeling the fatigue. The very act of picking up my leg was starting to become difficult. I slipped and slid on several parts of the course which freaked me out. There were several drops offs that made me slow down as I didn’t really want to be rescued from a crevasse.
The last half mile of the course was really hard as it was all the way out of the canyon. I had to stop several times on the switchbacks and try to catch my breath. I really, really wanted to be done. Andy kept shouting my name which made me feel better. But I was exhausted.
I made a lot of mistakes but in the end, I finished that race. My head tried to beat me but I won. And honestly, I’m more proud of finishing this race than PRing at Vernonia in 2011 or the 50Ks I did. It was really hard but I did it.
I don’t know why I haven’t made these before. They are so easy. Especially if you use leftover salmon. I made tandoori salmon and asked Andy to save a little. Turned out we had enough salmon for 4 burgers. I mixed the salmon with 2 eggs, cilantro and panko. I set it in the fridge for about an hour while the potatoes were baking (who doesn’t love baked potatoes!). Andy ran and grabbed some delicious buns from Grand Central Bakery. I formed the salmon mixture into patties and cooked them on the stove.
I topped the burgers with avocado, red onion and leaf lettuce. And they were delicious. Definitely making these again!
Last week we got our new washer and dryer. It’s so fantastic. Two great guys came and delivered and set them up. The space the appliances were put into was a tiny little closet. Andy actually had to remove the door of the closet so they would fit in.
Shem was scared of all the noise and hid under the covers for about 2 hours. But once I removed the warm clothes from the dryer, he was a fan.