Monday night was bitter cold. Tuesday morning was going to be even worse, a high of 7F at the start of the 5:30am group run. I had a track workout on my training schedule 10x400. I thought, maybe I’ll just go and get the group run started then I’ll head back to bed. I can do the workout after the sun comes up. It will be a few degrees warmer. Still, I put out my running gear, all 3 layers, for the next morning.
The alarm went off at 5am. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I never want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to leave everyone waiting in the cold, so I forced myself to leave the warmth of my blankets behind. I stumbled through the dark over the legos strewn about the living room carpet and made my way into the bathroom to get dressed. I put on my running gear and thought, I don’t really need to do the workout, I could just run with the group.
I made my way out the front door, dressed to run. I stopped in the bakery for a sip of coffee before I crossed the street to unlock the clubhouse. Ten brave souls came out to run. We took a quick photo and they headed off in the distance. I decided to drive to the track for my workout. I sat in the car and realized I didn’t have my key. It was already 5:45. If I start now, I still won’t finish before the group is back from their run. I told myself, I should just go back to bed instead. I walked up the stairs to my warm, cozy apartment, grabbed my car key and returned to the cold to drive to the track.
Brookdale Park was still and empty. There wasn’t any sign of life on the track which is normally filled with runners, walkers, bikes, soccer balls and other riff-raff. It was dark, quiet and cold. I started my warm-up, slowly circling the lanes 4, 3, 2, 1… . I paused my watch and took a couple minutes to stretch before starting my first 400. As I stepped to the line, I thought, I don’t need to run fast, I can just go a little faster, just a little more effort than normal. It doesn’t have to hurt. I started down the first straight, not so much as a glance at the pace on my watch. I backed off a little on the first turn and picked it up at the second straight. I thought to myself, just make it to the turn and relax, 10, 9, 8…. Back at the line, I hit the lap button on my watch and saw my first split. It was what my 400 time would have been before my accident.
I slowly jogged around the track to catch my breath before I made it back to the line for my second 400. I told myself the first one was a fluke, I went out too fast, I could never sustain that pace for 9 more rounds. I needed to hold back, just a little, and save my strength for the rest of the workout. I backed off on the turns. I felt comfortably uncomfortable. When I hit the lap button, I was shocked to see the same number as the first. It felt easier.
As I took my recovery lap, there was ice in the corner of my eyes. My thighs were so cold, they burned. The moisture from my breath froze into the neck gaiter I pulled up and over my nose. I couldn’t feel my toes. This is the same lack of feeling I live with in my hip every day.
Back to the line for number three, I hit the lap button and took two strides forward before my watch beeped. I glanced down. It was dead. It fully charged but the battery froze, literally. The cold burned my lungs as I rounded the first turn. I started thinking, I don’t have to do this, I don’t have to finish, I can slow down. Nobody will know. There’s no way to save this workout. There’s no way to know what pace I’m running so why does it matter?
I finished the third lap with the same level of effort as the first two. During the recovery lap, I kept telling myself all the reasons why quitting would be okay. It was still dark. My body was quickly becoming a block of ice. I could feel a deep ache in my hip, the cold penetrating the metal holding my bones together. I have nothing to prove. I don’t have to finish this. And then, back at the line, I picked up the pace for round four or was it five? Did I lose count?
I thought back to my last day in the hospital. Taking one more step forward was the most painful thing I’ve ever done. Just one step. Now, I have the ability to run loops around this track. It is a gift. I will not give up. I have to prove this to myself.
As I finished the 8th lap, I thought, I’ve done enough. That’s a full two miles of effort. I can live with two miles. I’ve done enough. But then, I reached the line and picked up the pace again to finish the 9th lap and then the 10th. As I circled the track to recover, I kept thinking about the 4th or maybe 5th lap. Had I really completed all 10 or was it only 9? I could make myself go around the loop just one more time and so I did. My 10 (or maybe 11) 400’s were over. I quickly made my way back to my car. The sun was starting to rise. My eyes were filled with ice, my toes were completely numb and I couldn’t feel my fingers. I was done. I didn’t quit. I didn’t give up. I didn’t cut it short even though everything in my mind was telling me to stop.
Everyday the thoughts passing through my head tell me it’s okay to quit yet everyday I fight to ignore them in an effort avoid the easy way out. I fight to put one foot in front of the other and rest in a state of constant forward motion, even when the obstacles in front of me seem insurmountable.
Weekly Training Log
Monday: SWIM 2100 with 6x75, EFE, FEF, 8x100s, 4x50 EF, 100s
PT: Core, Core, Core
Rice bowls with veggies and pork.
Tuesday: RUN: 10x400
Cheesesteaks with grilled veggies.
Wednesday: SWIM: 1800 with 12x25, 4x100, 12x25, 4x50
BIKE: 1:05 with 8 easy, 6@70%, 4@85%, 2@90% 5 easy, 3x8@80% with 3 recovery
Another 700 doughnuts made for the TSA agents - Brad made & delivered tacos to the kids and I while we worked.
Thursday: RUN 50:00 with 3x6 @ HM
Baked chicken with sweet potatoes & broccoli
Friday: OFF!!!! Not in life, just in training.
SWIM: Friday family swim at the Y with all 4 kiddos.
Turkey, veggies & rice for dinner
Saturday: RUN 65:00 with Lizzy, Yana and Liz before the big Fueled by Doughnuts meet up. Brad and I have to tag in and out with the kids so we can both get a run in. I was on the early run shift, late kid shift.
Cheesesteaks on pretzel rolls for lunch! Stamna with family for dinner.
Sunday: BIKE 1:30 with 2x (10 endurance, 4—>95%, 5 easy) 2x (2@80%, 2@90%, 1@100%, 4@70%)
I ate 2 cinnamon buns & 1 pecan sticky bun for lunch followed by 2 bowls of taco salad for dinner post long ride.