Monday, April 2, 2012

In The Long Run: Afterglow

Midlife Rambler, after completing a 15k (that's 9.3 miles for those of you who don't want to do the conversion) in a stealthy 1 hr/6 minutes (give or take), suggested we cover 'afterglow' for our Monday installment.

A few things:

1) Props to Midlife Rambler. I am amazed that he can run a 7'10" pace for 9.3 miles. I'm amazed that anyone can run a 7'10" pace for 9.3 miles. I am not certain that I could run a 7'10" pace for 3.1 miles, even if Charlie Manson was chasing me with a fork and the results from his latest Syphilis test.

It isn't this. But it's sort of close (if you've never been laid).
2) Afterglow could be a tough sell, especially for the non-runners who might have bumbled onto this post. So let's just not compare apples to oranges and no one will get hurt.

We're talking about Running Afterglow.

I think I've experienced Running Afterglow thrice:

First time: After completing my second half marathon in May 2011. I ran a smart race and finished 13.1 miles within 9 seconds of my 'private' goal* time: 2 hr, 10 min, 9 seconds. I was bouncing off the walls for at least two days.  If the Wisconsin Marathon race directors were monitoring web site traffic, I accounted for nothing less than 385 clicks in a 5 day span, just to see my time and rank in print, one more time.

I felt like I was at the beginning of a great race season.

Second time: After completing my first stand-alone 5k (all my 5ks to that point happened as the last leg of a triathlon) in August 2011. I finished the race in 27:37 -- that's just a little under a 9 min/mile pace.  It was a 6 pm start time and the humidity that night was off the charts: it was like running through glue. Going into the race, I had hoped to squeak by in just under 30 minutes - I did not expect to do it in less than 28. My training friends, coach and I all ended up at a neighborhood beer garden after the race for sangria and burgers: it was the perfect way to end my race season that year.

I felt like all of my training, particularly at Run Club, had paid off.

Third time: It wasn't a race at all. It was two weeks ago, after I finished the 3 hr and 50 minute run. I don't remember if I mentioned this in last week's post, but when I hit 21 miles, I found the strength to pull out a quick fist pump and then I broke down in tears. There hadn't been a day in my entire 39 years of existence when I thought I'd run 21 miles: it was a seriously powerful moment.

This was confusing afterglow, because honestly, my lower back, hips, groin, knees and ankles were throbbing. Or if they weren't throbbing, they felt like they were grinding together.**  I was aching. And sweating. And I was smelly, too. But the endorphins that started swirling around my body after seeing 21 miles show up on my Garmin crushed the pain and sweat and stench. That 21 mile long run - done on my own, no running buddy or energetic crowd to keep me moving - was one of the best days of my life.

I felt like I would enjoy this accomplishment until the reality of the pending 4 hr/10 min run caught up with me, and then I'd have to spend 5 days getting worked up about a training run that would exceed four hours.***

I'm going to experience Running Afterglow a fourth time, on May 5th.  I think it'll be big. Real big. 

I've imagined what it's going to feel like to cross that finish line. If I'll be able to hear my coach cheering for me, or if I'll be in a weird gray zone where sound doesn't exist. What it'll be like to collapse in Husband's arms. Whether or not I'll puke.  Will I stop to get my finishers medal or will I make a beeline to the port-a-potty.

Regardless of what's happening once I cross, I anticipate my afterglow to be pretty fucking cosmic.

I'll letcha know how it goes in a few weeks.

Find out if whether or not Midlife Rambler had an orgasm at the finish line here..
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* I make public goals and private goals.  My public goal was 2 hr/20 min. My private goal was 2 hr/10 min. Some skeptics would say I failed because I ran a 2:10:09.  To them, I say, 'get bent'.  

** Throbbing and grinding. Afterglow.  I never really thought running could be so sexual.

*** As it worked out, my 4 hr/10 min run that was planned for Saturday got canned. Since I hit 21 miles, my Coach dropped me to 2 hours this week. I'll build up for two more weeks, cut down to 2:45 and then 1 and's showtime!  Dropping to a 2 hour run after warming to the idea of a 4 hr/10 min run felt comparable to winning the lottery. And it was a good run.

Photo Credit: Arslan via photopin cc

1 comment:

  1. Believe me as someone who's been there:

    You won't hear any single person after 20 miles. Until you hear your nearest and dearest as you get close to the finish line. Their voice(s) will cut the the fog of exertion and pain and singleminded determination like a clarion call.

    Take my advice and ask someone to take a photo of you as soon as possible after you cross the finish line. I have a great pic of The Boy Wonder and I shortly after I finished.

    Thousand-yard stare, anyone?