Monday, July 29, 2013

To the Top (Someday)

This weekend, after giving myself two rest days,  I got up earlier than should be legal Saturday morning and left Zooey at home (I know - I'm a horrible dog momma) to go on a group run at South Mountain.
Everyone met up around 4:45; I had never been to that part of the park before, so I held everyone up after getting lost and confused.  Thankfully, these women, among whom are Dana of RunningMomAZ, Allison (awesome name, right????) of Parents on the Run, Ashley from She Runs Strong, and Missy over at Sugar Coated Athlete, are not only running bad asses (marathoners and Ironmen... and then me), but they were also gracious with this newbie.
The plan - run as far as you want up the hill and back, and then meet back at the parking area to head to breakfast.
Because basically, it was one, extremely long, never-ending hill.
I haven't run hills since April or May, so can I just say "OW."
I had thought I was doing OK keeping up on my running, but I admit that I was wholly unprepared for the ascent that lay in front of me.  I sucked wind.  And I just kind of sucked.
Originally, my plan was to attempt 8 miles.  Four miles up, and four miles down.  I wanted to take it nice and easy and take my time, even if I was slower (I already knew going into it that I'd be bringing up the rear).  But that was when I thought "hilly" meant multiple, shorter hills, not just one long endless one.  At some point, I just knew that 8 would not be in the cards that day, and I made up my mind to go as far as I could before turning around.
Which was, apparently, about 3 miles up the hill.
That distance offered me this view:

Good morning, Phoenix.
After I caught my breath and decided that I was, in fact, NOT going to die, I headed back down.  The temptation to pick up the pace was constant, but I worked hard to keep one that was faster than going up (I think some centipedes passed me heading that way) but that was constant and appropriate for the long, slow weekend run.
Even though it was hard and my stomach was upset (thanks, sleep apnea machine) and I felt like I was going backwards sometimes, the Running Gods were out in full force that morning, and they sent me this to remind me why I was up at 3:30:

I love you, too, Running.
I had only been back at the car for a few minutes when the rest of the group started to trickle in.  Everyone else went between 8 and 14 miles, and since they had a faster pace, they rocked it in just a little bit longer than it took me to carve out my 6.  
Here is what I noticed: everyone looked SO strong when they finished.  All of them.  It was already hot, even though we stepped off when the first rays of the sun were barely peeking over the horizon, and it's still been horribly humid for Arizona standards, PLUS we were on a hill, yet these ladies were crushing their workouts.

L - R: Me, Stephanie, Ashley, Allison, Dana, Jill, Kristi, Shelby, Missy
Photo credit: that girl in the parking lot we got to take our picture and Missy,
from whose Twitter feed I jacked this snap.
Also, no memos were sent out about wearing pink/black. That just A Thing That Happened.
I suppose that on some level, there was some frustration and even humiliation that I didn't go as fast/far as everyone else.  But that wasn't the main feeling I had while I watched everyone else come in.
I was in awe.
These women were kind enough to advertise their training run to the Twitterverse (which is how I found out about it), they were gracious enough to wait while I drove past them and had to turn around, they gave words of encouragement as they ran by me (thanks especially to Dana on this one), AND they were some of the strongest finishers I've seen.  And this was just a weekend training run!
I want to be just like them when I grow up.
More than being awed, I was inspired.  That hill totally owned me Saturday, but instead of giving up, I just decided that at some point in the near future, I'm going to make it to the top of the hill and make it MY bitch.

Of course, long runs mean breakfast shortly thereafter.  Seven of us headed over to Crackers and Co., where we demolished multiple carafes of coffee and at least two dozen eggs among us as we staved of the runger.  It was over breakfast that we got to know each other, as many of us had been complete strangers, save for a handful of tweets back and forth, until dawn.  For total strangers, we gabbed like we'd been friends for years.
These ladies are just lovely people, and I'm so grateful to them for shooting out the message and inviting all to join in their reindeer games.  It was a blast, and I can't wait to have that hill for breakfast like the pros.
And then go grab second breakfast with the ladies.


  1. Looks and sounds like fun! Love the AZ running community =)

    1. The more I l get into the community, the greater it gets. So many wonderful people.