This guy runs into the desert….
I did my first and only Death Valley training run this weekend, and I gained a bit of perspective. Here’s what I learned: With the temperature at 118 degrees, when you step out of your car, you don’t feel the heat as much as bathe in it. Then the wind starts and the heat rolls over you like a boiling wave and you know if you don’t pay attention, something is going to go terribly wrong. So, you wear the appropriate clothing, with little regard for fashion as evidenced here, wet it down, take a drink of water, put a full cup of ice in your hat and set off down the road. A mile later, you meet your crew, and do it all again. At certain intervals, you suck down a carbohydrate gel pack or take a salt tablet, but that’s pretty much it, mile after mile. We started the training run at noon, so a month from now, with a 6 am start, it should be a bit cooler in the beginning (only about 110), but the wave will be waiting for us later that afternoon.
18 miles and four hours later, I was feeling the heat and started to wonder about the challenge I had taken on. Was it too difficult? Am I too much of an idiot? Is that lizard laughing at me? After the third question, I knew it was time to take a break. I sat down in the car, ate some ice, drank a bit more, and generally cooled down. My coach had seen this before and knew what to do, and in about 15 minutes, I was up and running again, and finished another 4 miles. On the second day, during my second 9 mile, 4000 foot climb of the day, my coach drove by (slowly, I was walking at the time) and said: “Why don’t you try to run a bit?” I bit back my first response, and simply asked “Why?” (I was making OK time, and not trying to set a record). “How do you know where your limits are if you don’t test them?” he answered. So, I started running for 20 breaths and then walking for 20 breaths up an 8 degree incline. Yes, the 20 breaths running was a shorter distance, but I did something that I hadn’t even thought was possible at that point of the training.
Those 15 minutes and 4 miles on day one and the 3 miles I ran/walked on day two answered a lot of questions for me (unfortunately not the one about the lizard). I can make this. It will be difficult, but with the right support, we’ll be successful. I don’t have to draw the parallels to our kids and their parents’ struggles for you, because I think you can consider your own challenges and make the connection. At the end of the day, the end isn’t even what’s important. What’s important is that after taking on a challenge and breaking through a barrier, you get better and things improve. Maybe they improve for you, maybe (and hopefully in this case) they’ll improve for others as well.
Filed under: About my training | Tagged: Climb, Coach, Death Valley, Desert, Heat, Mountain, run, training, walk | Leave a comment »