Sep 25, 2007

honey, you look exhausted

this is what a little old lady said to me this morning while she was standing on the curb with her dog watching me finish my first mile repeat. -- i was surprised to hear someone speak to me - usually, there is no one to see me do these intervals ... i do them in the pre-dawn darkness & have grown to like it that way. there is something zen about it. like its not really happening. its in a dream. --- but my husband is out of town this week & i wasn't comfortable leaving the house while the kids were still sleeping. my youngest has a tendency to come up to our bed around 4:30 some mornings. how awful for her if the bed was empty. the intervals were going to have to be done in the daylight. -- it was already hot at 8 am when i started out.

running down my street, everything hurt.
i thought, it's going to be ugly today.

i get to the start & i'm off. i just go. i'm on the one mile at a time program. this has got to be my hardest interval. ever. it is just so hard. it's hard to breathe. and i think its because the sun has come up and its already hot. or i still have some lingering stomach bug. and i swear, coming down the homestretch, i feel a wave of fever encompass my head.

i hit the red button.
this is the fastest mile i have ever run in my life.

4 minutes later i start the next repeat. my mind is blank. i am still on the one mile at a time program. this one feels harder. but i know that the first was too fast. way out of target zone - on the other side. i think its' harder cause its the second one. i give myself permission to take it down a notch. and coming down the homestretch, i feel like a parachute has opened up behind me, the slow-down is that palpable.

i hit the red button.
and now this is the fastest mile i have ever run in my life.

i am completley perplexed by how this happens. i know this sounds absurd. i was just hoping, praying to stay within target range. those numbers were not my goal. i didn't mean to run this fast. and in fact, i may be in the doghouse for doing so. i'm not sure. i know the target range is there for a reason. but it just happened. if someone had asked me when i finished to guess what my split was, i would have guessed at least 20 seconds slower - because that's what it felt like to me. but now i see why it was so hard. so bloody hard. i always wondered what would happen if you really pushed yourself. i mean really, really pushed. do you fall apart into tiny bits? do things start to snap? i wasn't trying to attain those numbers. i was just trying to make it to that yellow line without falling over before i got there. why does it feel like you are running through mud when in fact you are running the fastest you ever have? why does it feel so damn slow when you are in the moment?

i always look back on my workouts & races, and think i could have pushed it a little bit more. sucked it up more. done a little better. am i the only one who thinks this? in the actual moment, though - it doesn't always feel that way. you think this is it, this is my all. i can't give any more. but is it? i wonder. i'm afraid of what would happen on that edge ... that edge of really & truly giving it everything you have. how do you balance on that edge & still make it to the finish line? in one piece? and feel and know that you had absolutley nothing else to give?

there were two more intervals still to go. the 3rd was significantly - relatively speaking now - slower. but dead on my target pace & a pace that had me crying tears of joy last week. unbelieveably, there were no tears of joy this morning. just complete & utter surprise -- along with the thoughts that i should get my watch checked. i didn't think it was possible - especially when that wasn't the star i was shooting for. and in an unprecedented move, i skipped the last one. i felt totally spent & slightly dizzy. i thought the first two were so fast they were an invitation to injury. and there was that fear - that fear of what would happen if i went just one more. would things fall off? would i blow my marathon? it is ridiculously hard for me to make a call like this. and i debated over & over if i should do the 4th. of course now - hours later ... i think i should have sucked it up & done it. but in the moment - i felt it was almost impossible. i burned it all up in the first two. but still. i wonder what the 4th would have been.

i look at that time up there. my fastest mile ever. i never thought that those numbers were attainable. i always thought i was giving it my all. i wonder if i set the bar higher, and stopped being afraid of what would happen along the way, what am i capable of?


Andria said...

Wow! Great post. This is a dilemma. It's hard to think "could I have done better" and to worry about what was done on past runs. Your repeats were amazing today and you should bask in that. If you felt spent after the third, good call to cut the fourth. You have to listen to your body and if strangers are telling you that you look exhausted, well then you probably did the right thing.

I miss Boston so much right now! I'm glad I found someone who misses it too. Thanks for coming by my blog.

Anonymous said...

You are capable of anything,
because you are an outstsanding woman.

And you will be in Boston in the spring!!

I just know it.

MiaStella said...

Wow! That is fast.....I love the comment..probably good meaning, but could really throw off your focus. "Really, I look tired? I don't feel that tired?" :>

RunToTheFinish said...

I am sooo jealous of your time! Maybe I need to start doing more sprints, I'd love to see that time on my watch.

zanne said...

andria - i think its good that you don't spend much time mulling over past runs, i should do less of that! and in the moment, cutting it short was good. it's just so hard to make that call!

m - thank you ... your prediction of where i will be this spring sends my heartrate sky high & i go looking for my paper bag; but thanks you!

miastella - yes, my first thought was jesus, it was just my first one. how the hell bad do i look? god only knows how i looked after the 3rd! good thing there was no one there to comment! it was like the race from sunday when i said to steven, honey you forgot the camera & he says: believe me, you didn't want a picture!

Backofpack said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I just read the previous post, and though I know it wasn't funny in real life, it sure was funny to read! I love that you didn't think of a stomach bug till after the race. You are hard core!

We have been to Boston twice (my husband qualified, I'm so far off it will never happen) and though I have run many marathons, nothing is quite like Boston. You are gonna have so much fun!

Anonymous said...

"Mommy, what was that sound?"

"That was a sonic boom, dear. Ms. Zanne is doing mile repeats so she can leave everyone in the dust at Boston!"

zanne said...

oh vegan, that is funny. and i know funny.

Tall Girl Running said...

This has become the bain of my existence in running: how fast can I go without ultimately smacking headfirst into a wall? How conservative do I really have to be? How much can I really risk?

I've run nine organized races to date and I honestly don't believe I've run any of them as fast I could have. I'm bothered by that, because I know only with risk comes experience and oftentimes success. My fear of failing has gotten the best of me. I'm tired of it and I want to start doing something about it. Thanks for the inspiration!

One of my favorite quotes:

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go". T.S. Eliot

Katie Johnson said...

Such a good post. You've given me much to think about! Love your blog.
Katie from Seattle

zanne said...

angie, thank god its not just me being psychotic or too hard on myself. i always feel so much better when someone else feels the same. i've been thinking about this for a long time and i like what you said: "how much can i really risk"? i was more freaked out yesterday than elated ... wasn't ready to risk my marathon to see what would happen. i love that quote.

amanda - believe me, thought i needed to get my watch checked! keep up your speedwork, and in that "if you build it they will come" way ... if you do the speedwork, one day the speed will show up - like hey, i'm here. i'm what you've been working your ass off for. i swear, it will just show up out of the blue & freak you the hell out.

katie - thanks for stopping by & for your kind compliments!

Gotta Run..... said...

yes that feeling of going slower when you are actually flying is weird!! Girl you are FASTTTTT!! I have never been able to really gauge where my pace is while running without a gadget or two.

Take care of your body. Sounds as if something is trying to get you down and out.

Nancy said...

Just found you through Andria. I was contemplating something similar today, am I pushing enough (although not even in my dreams am in the 7's!!).

Great post. I love the comments from the little old ladies. Always makes me feel so strong to be out there running!

CONGRATs on some amazing miles there!!

Vickie said...

Wow, great job! I think it feels slower when actually it is faster is the lactic acid buildup. It has that effect on you. And I knew it was only a matter of time before you got so fast you didn't know what to do with it.

zanne said...

vickie ... you're so right. i had no idea what to do with it. hit me completley by surprise, i was more freaked out than elated. the first one freaked me out, then the fact that the second one was even faster sent me over the proverbial egde! i truly didn't know what to do - it was the strangest feeling ever. i couldn't really wrap my brain around it.

Katie Johnson said...

Wondeful post! I'd like to include you in my new picture blog of Marathoners--"This is What A Marathon Runner Looks Like", if you're willing. I'm wanting this blog to be a real inspiration to people who are just getting started in the fitness game--to see that marathon runners are just people too. Like them! Hoping this will motivate others as it does me.

You can get a look at it's humble beginnings at:

I'd love to include your pictures and marathon stats.

Katie from Seattle

Laurel said...

This is a great post. I have chills. Your writing is amazing.

Those times are amazing! Congratulations on not falling apart into tiny bits! You are tough and smart. I see Boston in your future.

zanne said...

thanks Laurel!