Sunday, September 25, 2011

Snail Mail Loot!

Yesterday was a snail mail loot day: The Team Sparkle Traveling Skirt arrived, as did my "spicy mustard"-colored backcountry.com goat sticker.  Yay!!

Apparently I painted my coffee table "spicy mustard."
Who says the USPS is dying?

Even though the skirt arrived more than a month before the event at which I'm planning to wear it – the Virginia Tough Mudder on October 23 – the skirt couldn't have arrived at a better time in my training cycle. I was in dire need of a pick-me-up.

Two Fridays ago, I set out for an 8-mile run. It was dark, dry, a little breezy, and 50˚F. The sky lightened but remained mostly overcast. These were my ideal conditions, and that's how I ran the 8 miles: 10 minutes faster than the last time I'd gone out and done the distance, in a humid 80˚F. It definitely wasn't my fastest 8 miles ever, but it wasn't bad for this year. The shorter runs during this week also went reasonably well, so I expected to have a repeat of last Friday when I woke up yesterday morning.

Except after I ate a small breakfast, I felt like going right back to bed, even after putting on running shorts. I actually crawled back into bed for about 5 minutes before convincing myself that it was possible to start a run feeling like crap but wind up feeling better partway through. Not yesterday. I called it quits after 3 miles and contemplated either trying again for 8 later in the day, or at the very least, finishing off 8.

This is pretty distressing 2 weeks before a race and has messed with my head.

After eating a proper breakfast and lunch for the next three hours, I texted my friend Jonathan to see whether he was going for a run later in the day. Maybe I'd join him for a few miles. It turns out he was planning on running 5. 3 + 5 = 8.  Voila!

Now, a few notes about Jonathan: (1) he's recovering from some health issues and (2) there was a point in his life when a sub-3-hour marathon was normal. My only chance of keeping pace with any former elite runner is, I think, if they're actively suffering from a health issue and/or missing a leg and have no prosthetic.  There, I wrote it. Jonathan with one lung and half a soleus muscle = Stephanie with two lungs and intact calves, maybe. Not that I would ever wish my friend to have one lung or half a calf muscle, of course.

Anyway, around 5pm yesterday, I found myself on hill #1 of Jonathan's Northwest DC Tour de Hell Hill. Don't get me wrong. I like hills. Especially those covered in snow.
Hoofing up a hill the day before Christmas 2009.
But my idea of a running hill is an on/off ramp. Seriously. So imagine my oxygen-deprived horror when hill #1 turned out to be half a mile long. And sure, what goes up usually comes down, but then it goes up again if you're a former elite runner trying to pack in the most efficient run possible. Gack. Hill #2 basically had me for dinner. Or as an apéritif at the least. Yes. I walked up hill #2. It was lame. And at some point, Jonathan decided to describe to me the incomprensible plot of a crazy Korean movie he watched the night before, maybe to see if the plot made any more sense to someone who was oxygen deprived. See how all of this is messing with my head two weeks before the Army 10-Miler?

Between my morning run, the run to and from Jonathan's place, and shuffling myself along Jonathan's route, I logged 9.3 miles. They were neither pretty nor particularly satisfying.

That's why it was a treat to find my mailbox packed with goodies yesterday, especially the traveling Team Sparkle skirt. It's like the powers that be knew that I'd need a pick-me-up at 6pm Saturday.  Thanks, powers that be!


The girls at Team Sparkle are psychic.

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