Monday, November 23, 2009

Warming up...for Thanksgiving

What could be better than having Thanksgiving dinner? Having TWO Thanksgiving dinners! As luck would have it, my cousin-in-law, who lives not far from us, insisted that we have a Thanksgiving dinner with her because she has to travel to a wedding this week. It doesn’t hurt that she’s a fabulous cook. The offer, quite frankly, was too good to turn down.

Similar to signing up to run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, I felt I had to “earn” this pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving. What better way than to crank out a 15-miler?

Recalling my 15-miler from two weeks ago, I went into this one with some trepidation. I checked the weather forecast religiously this week to find the optimum day to run in case we experienced one of those freak Indian Summer days. Fortunately, the high only hit 55…ideal!

Still, my wife and I just could not get started this weekend. For me, I think the two hockey games and late nights, all while trying to squeeze in my workouts, had finally caught up with me. We moved through the house in a haze of exhaustion on Saturday and ended up putting in 11-hours of sleep Saturday night.

Waking up groggy and zombie-like on Sunday morning, I walked Mattie as a warmup to try and clear my head and get the juices going in my legs. Then, I laced up the kicks and set out.

Rather than heading out to Manassas Battlefield, I decided to stay local and run from the house. But instead of mapping out a 15-mile route, I ran my 5-mile lake loop three times. Similar to the Battlefield, it rolls, both up and down, meaning that no part of my legs is neglected…calves and hammies on the way up and quads on the way back down.

Plus, I’ve been experimenting with a new training program that adds some element of speed work in each workout with the exception of one straight up aerobic run of 40-50 minutes. So, this 15-miler was a cut down run, i.e. starting at 7:30 pace and cutting down 20 seconds per mile every 5K.

What I like about this sort of run is that it forces me to start slower and warmup naturally and pick up the pace as I go…what I don’t like is that running sub-6:30 after pounding out 12-miles is BRUTAL. That’s about where the self-loathing began but as I rounded the corner back into our neighborhood, my spirits lifted, and I started to focus on what I had just accomplished, rather than the suffering part of it.

With each run like this, I learn to push that exhaustion threshold just a little bit more. It’s that good pain, the kind that you know isn’t leading down the road toward injury, rather that you’ve pushed yourself to the aching point. What makes it worth it, to me, is soaking in the post-run/accomplishment euphoria that follows, and channeling the confidence that comes with it into future runs. I’ll always have the memory of that run, and runs like it, to call on when the going gets tough.

Of course, the euphoria eventually wears off and I’m left with the fall out. Yesterday it was the feeling that someone had taken a bat to my legs a la the hobbling scene in Misery. I did some yoga stretching and hit the foam roller pretty hard. It helped…but…I yearned to slide under the covers and just let my body heal itself.

Until I could do that, however, I stuffed my face for an hour with roasted chicken that just fell off the bone when I carved into it, homemade stuffing and cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and apple pie. I am sufficiently warmed up for Thursday’s feast and ready to take on the week’s upcoming workouts, including Thursday morning’s Turkey Trot.

What are your Turkey Trot/racing plans between now and Turkey Day?

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