I should not be surprised. When you blog every tear, sneeze, and fart for four years and then suddenly drop off the blogosphere, one or sixteen of you got a little concerned. Keep calm, I have just been having fun.
Oh! Not impressed?
Maybe you should blog about it, but since we are here, how about we just chew the fun fat?
The family and I went away to Mammoth for a week. I mean what family does not want to go watch Mommy train at altitude and then play junior lifeguard by the pool all day? Oh there was more than pool swimming if you count: gondola rides, driving range fly balls, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, roller blading, ice cream cone licking, zip lining, rock climbing, and to the littles utter and complete delight morning cartoon watching. Yep- it’s vacation.
There is something for everyone. Just put your hand in that vaca black bag and randomly pull out a prize package.
OH LOOK! I pulled out RUNNING! That is such a kawinkydink. What’d you get?
I ran every day in Mammoth and sometimes twice a day. I ran picturesque mountain loops, back country trails through singing pine trees, near lakes, around lakes, at dawn, at dusk, through tunnels, over tunnels, through golf courses, past golf courses, around soccer fields in soft grass, by a bear, between deer, over chipmunks, with Andrew Kastor’s Striders, with the fabulous Bethany, and some how every run seemed to end at a coffee shop. That is such a kawinkydink!
What I did not do was run on much concrete. I spent a solid week turning over the miles to find my legs bouncing back with an unusual freshness. Mountain air? I think it is more like mountain dirt! I tasted the air- a little thin, but the dirt was thick and cotton like. Since most of my runs were solo, I was able to reconnect with running in a way that I have not for the past half year. I simply enjoyed it. Are you like me where you have grown tired of people asking you What are you running from?
As if anyone who spends that much TIME and ENERGY on running is simply wasting it or selfishly soaking it up in some self absorbed bubble of sweat and shoe laces. Surfers speak of this truth all the time: It’s Not A Sport- It’s a Lifestyle. I am a runner. Therefor, if the sun is coming up and I am able, I am out the door to greet the day. Running is no more selfish than sitting on a couch and reading a book. In fact, it is far more selfless because I am taking care of my body which means I will most likely die much much later and lucky you- YOU get ME for that much longer. See, I’m always thinking of you.
I am not necessarily running from anything and I am certainly not running from myself. Well, not anymore. OK, two out of three times ain’t bad. There is a fantastic line in the book BORN TO RUN, “Maybe there was never anything wrong with Jenni that could not be fixed by what’s right with Jenni.”
When I run like that- for all the perfect reasons of air, mountain, trail, adventure, taste, and joy- it is right by me. If some magical rather creepy little troll popped up and promised me eternal running bliss at a moderate pace for the rest of my life without injury, I might be tempted to take it to save running FOREVA. However, no such offer as been proposed hence I still want to kill it every once in a while twice a week, really wish it could be more, and so into thin air we go.
Half way into the delicious INYO loop, I found the perfect little stretch of gently rising soft dirt road. The assignment was 12-16 hard 200 meter repeats. The gifted and talented Halo running around my brain flashed the number 20 up on my monitor. Twenty uphill 200 meter repeats? That’s what I said! No bells or whistles went off in alarm that this seemed a bit demonic. I punched into the first repeat. HACK!
After the kick up of all that cotton dirt lingers a mean cotton mouth. Well, only 19 more to go! Punching into repeat after repeat, I realized quickly I might have to put the gloves back on because my little punchers were gonna get sore. Teams of high school cross country runners strode by me either catching a glimpse of my body rocketing up the dirt swinging Casey Jones’ arms driving that train or their eyes fell upon my sunken shoulders a top feet that sort of shuffled through the dust delaying the inevitable bottle rocket of pain. I need air!
I choked on spittle and dust and flung my body dizzily into the next round. Nothing hurt save my lungs. There was a complete disconnect between my feet and my heart. What’s up heart? Systole got your diastole? COUGH! Shut it feet, better count your toes cuz I’m about to cut off the circulation.
And 20! I did it. Let me just gather up all these sparkly stars that I am looking at- lovely souvenirs- and let me go over behind that tree- and now we’re even. I will take these stars wilderness and leave you that. OH look! More high schoolers! Ya’ll want some stars?
I believe the text exchange to Rusty went as sweetly as sap:
You sick bastard! 20 repeats?
You sick bitch! I said 12-16!
The last time I was in Mammoth, I experienced the hardest workout of my life. Part of what made it so unbelievably difficult was not appreciating the beast before the ball. The workout: 6 mile warm up, strides, 6×90 seconds hard with 90 seconds of recovery between efforts, 3-4 mile cool down. What? That little cute kitten of a workout? ONLY six repeats of ONLY ninety seconds! Drea, you gone soft? I might have very well have gone soft, but that workout is steel toe hard. I discovered that the oxygen runs completely out at 35 seconds leaving the human body to pummel along at 5 minute pace for a full 55 seconds without air. Dim the lights, Cue the dramatic music, IF I taste stomach bile in a workout and jump in a ditch to pitch- it’s fucking hard.
Ninety seconds hard. I head back to Green Church Tempo road where I did this workout last year. I am hoping that in the land of no shade and no trees that there will also be no distractions. Ready girl? I really wish I had some company to witness my death. Well you don’t. You got your ass and it witnesses lots of shit all the time so stop complaining. I rocket into the first 90 seconds. My eyes sink into the horizon and 30 seconds disappears and my pace reads 4:55. Then the pain sets in and I ride it for 60 seconds. Tick-tick-tick. I fall upon my knees heaving mountain air deep into my aching lungs. My fingers tingle and my head spins.
Oh she’s a beautiful bitch this one is. I jog along silently sucking in mouth fills of air until eventually, “10……5…..” Strike! I fling myself into the next 90 second interval. Again my eyes lock on the horizon and I tighten my fingers around my imaginary life line pulling me closer to the distant peaks. Thirty five seconds disappears and then my lungs cave inward, my arms pump encouraging my legs, and my eyes watch the nothingness, but mountain beauty that dances ahead. Time! I collapse gasping and spit.
I am standing on the edge of the deep end and I am capable of holding my breathe for exactly 90 seconds, not 91. I jump in and calmly sink to the bottom of the pool. I relax my shoulders, blink my eyes, enjoy the shimmering color of the sun passing through a strand of floating blonde hair, and then the clock clicks 30 seconds. Now I kick my legs a bit and fling my arms encouraging my body to rise toward the surface. My cheeks puff up and my ears ache. I feel pressure building behind my eyes. I tell myself to be calm. I push my head back and glance at the surface- how far up is it? 40 feet? 20 feet? What if I cannot make it? I panic and kick like crazy toward the surface. My legs ache, my arms go numb, and I fling myself rapidly toward that liquid ceiling. My vision flickers and spots flash across my field like lightning bugs. Finally, I surface with great gasps of mandatory breathes. I suck. I suck up every bit of air that I can and push it back out wheezing and coughing.
Enthusiasm for more ripples across my starved chest. I must be sick. In the head. I jump in and sink to the bottom in just 15 seconds. Wait! What? That’s now 75 seconds of no air! I exhale a pitiful plea of exaggerated pain and watch two cyclist approach. They wave at me and my reply is fish like arms and flap out of synch beneath the small explosion of bubbling spit splattering off my cheek. They so think I am so cute. I collapse on my knees and teeter off the road to wretch a bit of stomach acid. Yummy. I find myself setting upon my last interval and I push as hard as I can into it. Ten seconds finds me dizzy and drunk crying at the party while wondering why the can opener won’t unlock my car door. I am chasing absolutely nothing like absolutely any unimaginable nothing is chasing me. For 30 seconds, I savor this. I can do this! Nothing hurts, but my lungs! Then I fix my eyes on the cattle guard ahead- forget the time, get there. I run 100 seconds and stop.