Wednesday, August 1, 2012

There is something seriously wrong with me

This past weekend I got up at 4am on Saturday to run 18 miles so that I could then rush straight from finishing my run to participate in a Fire Fighter Bootcamp.  I wake up at 4am every morning, but I usually don't lace up and run 18 miles right away, I DO like to allow my body to wake up a little first.  Anyway, it had to be done.  I headed out the door with my reflective gear and blinking lights on and started running.  It was cool, but very humid out.  I felt pretty good.  The miles went by fast, but not as fast as I would like.  My pace was about 30 seconds per mile slower than my goal marathon pace and about a minute per mile slower than I was last year at this time.

I didn't care so much what my garmin said for pace, I was more concerned with the time, unsure if I would make it back to my house in time to hop in my car and drive 30 minutes to Melrose to my friend's fitness studio (Fit Lifestyle Studios).  I was pretty consistant and stayed on track even over the hills in Tewksbury and the last 3 miles back to my house I actually picked up the pace.  I made it home with about 10 minutes to spare so I filled up a travel cup with ice and coconut water, grabbed a few bottles of water and an extra coconut water and I was out the door.
I made it to the studio at exactly 9:00 just in time for the bootcamp class.  The entire parking lot was converted to what I imagine Fire Fighter academy might look like.  Ladders all over the place, SCBA air tanks, sledge hammers, giant tires, and a 180lb. dummy.  Everyone slowly gathered and Brian, the instructor/fire fighter/owner of the studio (my friend Jenine's husband), started us off with a light warm up of 5 laps around the building in two line formation divided into two teams - Platoon A and Platoon B.  Technically, I had already warmed up with 18 miles, but I played along and did a light jog while chatting with some of the other participants.

After the warm up Brian explained that the 6 week class would build on itself and mirror some of the training that real fire fighters go through (although I kind of hope they get a much more severe ass beating workout).  We would start with ladder drills and then do hose drills and combine them and do a final challenge at the end of the 6 weeks.  He breifly explained the difference between ladder companies and engine companies and what they each do and what we would be doing.  Then the drills started.  Each platoon started in a diffferent area.  My group did these drills first - lunges and ladder lifts, simulated ladder raising with a weight on a pulley, sledge hammer swinging hitting a giant tire, step ups with a SCBA tank on and simulated venting a ceiling with an 18lb body bar, and climbing a ladder with a hose pack and SCBA tank.  I had done the class once last year so I was familiar with the exercises.  Some of the newbies definitely had a learning curve.

The second set of drills involved agility ladders and more laps around the building - crawling up an extension ladder on the ground, moving down an agility ladder in push up formation with hands in the boxes and then with feet in the boxes, then moving through the agility ladder feet in and out along the length of the ladder.  There were a few stragglers in the group and a variety of fitness levels so a few of us were ahead.  I was dripping sweat and feeling the burn while some other people were struggling to keep up.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  That was me 5 years ago.  I was happy to encourage them and keep them moving.

We moved on from there to two more sets of drills.  First tire flips which requires at least 2 strong people or 3-4 not so strong people.  We flipped the tire 3 times in one direction, turned around and flipped it back to the starting position and everyone stopped, I said Brian didn't tell us to stop, let's keep going.  Some of the class looked at me like I was crazy.  I repeated myself and said, you signed up for this, you paid for it, there is limited amount of time, let's get our money's worth.  Finally, a few people joined me and we made another lap with the tire flips before Brian told us to switch with the other platoon.  The next thing we did was in pairs we did squat presses with an extension ladder above our heads.  I started out strong, but after about 10 reps my arms were getting fatigued for sure.

We wrapped up the class with another round of the first set of drills going to any station that you didn't get to in the first round and then we cleaned up all the equipment and put it away.  I was completely drenched and totally spent.  Only about 10:30 in the morning and I had already run 18 miles and done a 90 minute bootcamp.  I'd say that was a pretty productive morning.

I went home, cleaned my house a little, showered and ate some lunch, then crashed on my couch for an afternoon nap.  My brother's friend Kristen was coming down to stay over because we were both doing a triathlon in Lowell the next morning.  I had planned for us to walk downtown for dinner because it was Folkfest weekend and I thought it would be nice to check it out, but as the afternoon passed and evening arrived so did some crazy torential downpours.  Kristen arrived and it was still pouring so we changed plans and went to Bertuccis for pizza instead.  We settled in for the night and watched a little of the Olympic games and chatted about the race then went to sleep.

I woke up before my alarm clock the next morning around 5:25am.  I tried not to wake Kristen up.  Got dressed, made some tea and breakfast.  She got up and we were ready to race.  Around 6:30 we loaded up the cars and drove to the race, about 2 miles up the road from my house.  Got our numbers and started to set up in the transition area.  It was cool and cloudy, not a bad day for a race.  Then it started raining.  It went from ideal conditions to miserable in an instant.  At least we would be in the water and wet anyway for the swim portion of the race, but I was a little worried about being cold on the bike.

The race started and the 1 mile swim was two laps and we had to come out of the water, run along the beach and then get back in.  That kind of sucked.  I actually felt ok in the water.  The first lap was rough and I couldn't relax and breathe.  I was a lot more comfortable in the second lap and I looked at my watch when I got out of the water in disbelief when I saw 33 minutes.  That's 5 minutes faster than my last olympic triathlon swim.  My mom and brother had come down to watch and cheer for me and Kristen and I saw them on the beach as I headed to the transition and said to them, "Thank God that part is over" I glanced behind me and saw a few more swim caps still in the water and that for me was a win - not last!  YAY!

Got on my bike and started passing people like it's my job.  I LOVE the bike!  It was a two lap course mostly flat with some hills on the back side and a really crappy section of about 2-3 miles of grooved pavement.  I finished the first lap in about 44 minutes and I started doing the math in my head.  If I could do the bike in 90 minutes, the swim was 33, if I could finish the run in under an hour I'd be under 3 hours and I'd have a new PR!  I pounded the pedals and felt the burn in my legs fatigued from the day before and screaming at me to stop.  I ignored them and powered on.  My legs actually felt pretty good in the second lap on the bike as if they accepted the abuse and torture I was subjecting them to.  I finished the bike and forgot to look at my watch, but I knew I was under 90 minutes and on track for my new PR.  Just a short easy 6 mile out and back run to do to claim glory.

I quickly slipped on my running shoes and my hat and sprinted out of transition.  I felt really good.  How was that possible after all the stuff I did the day before?  I was amazed and somehow I just kept going and picked up the pace.  There were no mile markers, but I knew roughly where they were from the tri I did a few weeks ago on the same course.  I was doing great and under 10:00 miles.  I made it to the turn around and started counting the people I passed pushed a little harder to pick up the pace.  I passed a guy walking and told him there were less than 2 miles to go - "gut it out and finish strong!"  I told him it's just a little suffering for a lot of glory.  He started to run and I could hear him shuffling behind me and then he picked it up and jogged along side me thanked me for the encouragement and kicked a little harder to pass me and continue.  Yay!  I LOVE that!  Never ever give up!  I knew there was about a mile to go and I looked at my watch two or three times and did the math in my head, not only was I going to be under 3 hours, but I was going to PR by over 20 minutes!  I finished in 2:54!!!!  My previous Olympic distance PR was 3:18.
Seriously, something not normal about that.  I ran 18 miles and did a 90 minute bootcamp class and then friggin crushed it in an olympic triathlon the next day on severely fatigued muscles.  I think it's just proof that I am built for endurance sports and I NEED to do an ultramarathon to really test that theory.  I mean it seems as if I only do better when I'm tired and sore.  My half marathon PR was the day after an 18 miler too.  It's crazy the ability I have to ignore the warning signs of pain and keep moving and pushing my body past where most normal people would have stopped.  Oh and did I mention I got 2nd place in my division (there were only 2 of us, but whatever, I'll take it).

I rewarded myself with Life Alive for lunch and then a nice long nap after I got home.  Monday and Tuesday I also rested and relaxed.  I had planned on going for a bike ride yesterday after work but decided to rest one more day and it was ovbious that I needed it because I fell asleep on my couch around 5:00 and woke up at 8:00 and just went to bed.  Pretty awesome weekend overall and I CANNOT wait to do it again this weekend.  I don't have a race Sunday, but I DO plan on running 16-18 miles Saturday morning and going to Fire Fighter bootcamp.  Maybe I'll take a few pictures.  We're suppose to do hose drills this week.  So excited!

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