Friday, April 22, 2011

TV Makes Me Do Stupid Things

On Monday, the first day of my kids’ Spring Break, I started the day as I do any other day: I poured myself a cup of coffee, went back to bed and turned on the morning news. This ritual is key to the successful start of my day. Thirty- to 40-minutes of non-activity, hot caffeine and a very cuddly Raoul (the cat) is my equivalent of a morning yoga practice, minus all the movement and breathing that yoga requires.

Computer at my side, my Facebook News Feed reminded me that the Boston Marathon was taking place, so I started anxiously scrolling thru channels to find coverage, because surely, the world’s oldest annual marathon would get some national TV attention, right?  Several frantic Facebook posts and responses soon revealed that no, unless you’re in the Boston area, you weren’t going to watch it on TV, but that the event could be purchased on UniversalSports.com.

And then, at approximately 9:30 am (Central), Monday, April 18, 2011, Tracy T. Trovato purchased a sporting event to stream onto her laptop.  It was the kick-off to a week of watching movies about endurance sports, testing her own endurance in some powerful workouts and making some serious athletic-type purchases and one really, really crazy decision.

If you didn’t catch the Boston Marathon, you should sob violently into your pillow tonight, because you missed a good one. Full disclosure: this is the first marathon I’ve ever watched from start to finish, but from my perspective, it was a damn good one. Watching Japan take first place in both the Men and Women’s divisions for Push Rim brought tears to my eyes, but the real event was watching American Desiree Davilla creep up out of nowhere and give Kenya a true run for the money. Her surges were incredible and as a novice runner, I was awed by the power she had in the final meters of a 26.2 mile race.  In the end, she earned 2nd place, coming in just two seconds behind Kenya’s Caroline Kilel.

About 20 minutes after my streaming video ended, I registered for my first marathon.

I’m still not entirely sure what was going thru my head. I mean, I’m no Desiree Davilla. She ran 26.2 miles in less time than it took me to run half of that. I just signed up for about 5 hours of running. Five. Hours. Of running. WTF was I thinking???

Funny thing is, at the time I registered, I hadn’t run in more than a week because of what turned out to be a minor (but painful!) groin injury.  At the time I registered, I wasn’t even sure I’d be allowed to run the rest of the week, or if I’d be able to run in my first half marathon of the season that is only two weeks away. But I registered anyway. And then I spent the rest of that day at two malls with my kids while every single voice in my head screamed: Why did you do that? Why did you do that?

It wasn’t until Run Club last night (Thursday) that I had the answer to make the voices shut up:  I am hellishly stronger than I give myself credit for and I am going to rock this marathon.

The answer to the question of “WHY? WHY? WHY?” started earlier that day. My husband’s man-friend, Dave, and I went to the Y to swim. He hadn’t been feeling confident about his swimming lately and although we planned on biking, I didn’t feel like it was warm enough to bike, so I coaxed him into the pool. I didn’t tell him that I had a 2900 yard pool workout for us until we were in the water and about 250 yards into our warm-up – that way there was no way he could get out of it.

Short story: we KILLED it!  The main workout, 1200 yards, comprised four sets of four variably-paced 75s. The last 300 yards, I wasn’t sure that any spectator could discern my fast 75s from my slow 75s, but I was still moving forward. By the end, our arms were dead. I have no idea how I hoisted my body out of the pool or how I managed to blow dry my hair in the locker room after the swim.

On any regular day, I’d be wildly happy with a swim workout like this.  I would have come home, had something to eat and taken a nap.  That didn’t happen yesterday.  Instead, after eating a sub at Jimmy Johns with Dave, I came home and streamed the 2008 Ford Ironman Championship onto my laptop.  And I didn’t nap. And then, a few hours later, Dave picked me up for Run Club.

When we got to Run Club, we joked with my trainer that if the night’s workout had anything to do with the use of our arms, we were screwed. Turned out, we were doing a full-speed workout: 10 sets of ¼-mile intervals (with 2 min. walking recovery between) that my group (there were three of us) had to do in 2 minutes, 5 seconds or less. That’s an 8-minute mile, for anyone reading this that might be mathematically challenged.  An 8-minute mile!  And even after swimming 1.25 miles earlier that day, I was on … or under … my range for all 10 sets.

One year ago, I couldn’t have moved water for 1.25 miles. I certainly couldn’t have pulled off an 8-minute mile. And there is no way in Hell I could have done both in the same day.  Certainly, my training has paid off.  Having a coach and being accountable has pushed me to do things I wouldn’t have done on my own. But the craziest change has come from within me and that’s the fear factor: I seem to not have one anymore. That … thing … I don’t know if it’s an acquired characteristic or something genetic … that ‘real’ athletes have where they go for broke, push through pain and seemingly don’t consider any consequences?  I think I’ve got it now. And if I’ve got it, I can do this marathon. In fact, with six months of training, I might be able to do this marathon and cross the finish line smiling.

At some point in between registering for the marathon and yesterday’s workouts, I also watched Spirit of the Marathon and bought a Garmin Forerunner 305.  Being healthy, my friends, is both addictive and expensive.

I could probably blame the Boston Marathon, but I know that is just a bullshit excuse. The idea of a marathon has been floating around in my head since my second or third night at run club, when I started to feel like I could very well be a distance runner.  I guess watching both the amazing elites at Boston (and later, watching all the ‘everyman’ athletes running Chicago in Spirit of the Marathon) just helped me see the possibility. It’s a few months of work and maybe an hour or two (those final 6 or 8 miles) of being really uncomfortable. I can do that.

Thank God I didn’t accidentally stream a competitive eating competition, or this week might have gone off in an entirely different direction.