Running is something that I have to mentally prepare for. That may sound weird, but its true. I have to think about what I am about to do, and then make peace with the fact that my body is going to rebel, feel pain, and want to stop moving and my mind will have to take up the slack.
I started preparing mentally for the Arctic Valley race days before it happened, and had to continually remind myself that this is what I do for fun, I actually like running uphill and that "feeling the burn" actually feels good. Running is strangely meditative.
Lynn and I have been running up Arctic in stages for over a couple months, adding an extra 10 minutes or top of another hill every week or two, until we made it to the top. It took us an hour and 8 minutes of serious huffing and puffing to go up 2,500 ft over 6.3 miles to the top and then only 51 minutes to get down.
photo by Lynn Peterson
Before I ever do a race I always ask myself what my goal time is. I try to use races as motivation for me to reach my own goals, perhaps a self defense mechanism for my ego so that way if I do poorly overall, I can still be satisfied by how I do against my own expectations. I run for fun and fitness and being competitive and serious isn't fun for me....it makes me not want to enter and just sit of the couch and eat more ice cream....I want to get better and faster because its gratifying to myself to work hard and see improvement.
So my goal for this race was to maintain 10 minute mile average for the uphill portion and then just try and go as fast as I could down, and do it overall in 1:50, which would be 7 minutes slower than I did it when I was younger and lighter, but still nine minutes faster than we did it last week. I thought that seemed fair to expect of myself, not too unrealistic, and something that I would have to work hard to achieve...have I mentioned how beat and sore and exhausted I get EVERY time I do that run with Lynn....and then I wanted to do it faster....this is when I start questioning my definition of fun.
Lynn with Her Trophy!!
Lynn and I both pretty much kicked butt on this run.
I think we both pushed the limits of what we could do...I ran as fast and hard as I could up and down that hill...my heart, lungs, and muscles were maxed out the whole time. I met my goal and got to the top in 1:01, running just seconds under a 10 minute mile average, and then down in 42 minutes, averaging just over 6 and a half minute miles....So I ended up cutting 16 minutes off my time from the week before, and did it 7 minutes faster than my goal.
Me and My Trophy!
There was probably only 10 women who entered the race, and I think everyone got a trophy, which is awesome because I think its an accomplishment just to undertake and complete this run...I'm not hard core, this kicked my butt, and I freely admit it.
Actually this run kicked my butt clear into the following week as I could barely walk. The day after the race my muscles felt like they had been through a cheese grater and I had these dead feeling spots in my legs where the muscle tissue refused to engage and my whole leg would spasm and collapse when I tried to engage my quads....it was rough...no races for me for a while, I need to get way tougher!