Monday, July 11, 2011

Marathon training, week 1

Last week was the first week of marathon training!  Overall, successful.  I ran three miles on Tuesday evening, which was very unpleasant -- hot, soupy weather and clothing that felt too tight.  I am aiming for an 8:30 pace (last time around I ran at 8:55) and I ended up clocking these three at 8:26, so that was nice.  Wednesday and Thursday turned out to be "rest days," because I didn't want to/couldn't run, so that's fine.

On Saturday I had my first long run -- six miles, which is not bad at all.  Just one good loop around Central Park.  I was hurting a little bit from the late dinner with friends we had enjoyed the night before, and I realized that there was a road race also going on that morning.  I pictured myself being devoured by an avalanche of thousands of runners in matching bibs, but through some miracle of geography and pacing I managed to avoid the entire pack.  I would pass mile markers and realize that the race had been going for 20 minutes already, and then 30, and yet I never got lapped and I eventually reached the tail end of the pack.  The goal with the long runs is to run slow, so my mantra was "slow and in control."  Yet at the end I realized that I was running 8:45.  It was a nice run -- stately, elegant, almost matronly.

Then finally Sunday was cross-training, after another late night of "Horrible Bosses" and $9 pitchers (plural) or of Rolling Rock.  After almost five hours of sleep I staggered to the gym for the R. & B./gospel spin class I have come to love, along with some weights.

In class we were listening to something ("To Worship You I Live" or "God Favored Me," I forget) with the resistance on the bike near its maximum -- pushing the pedals required such effort, such rhythm to keep moving -- leaning into it, heart beating steadily, sweat along my arms, shirt stuck on my back, eyes stinging.  The song was rising to a crescendo and the instructor started telling us, "Let go of the resistance.  Let go of the opposition.  Rise to the top of the hill.  The top of the hill is waiting for you."  And I started picturing L and A at the top of the hill, waiting for me in their golden light, waiting for me to move through all of this to reach them.  I don't know if it was the physical strain or my exhaustion or the music or the words, but I almost got a little emotional in that spin class.  Finally the song reach its peak and the instructor slowly brought us back to the bikes, to the small room, to the stinging and the sweat.  The moment had ended and we all looked up and around the studio, wiping the sweat out of our eyes, preparing for the next stage of the ride.

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