Last Saturday morning I found myself bear crawling up a set of icy stairs out of the river valley, wondering how I get myself into these situations. As I desperately tried to not start a domino effect of people wearing stretchy clothes, I had this sinking feeling like I didn’t belong.
Actually I know I don’t belong.
I was in the midst of taking the shortcut back to where we had started with a few other people who needed to be at certain places by a specific times because I was very tired from running with some of the speediest people in the city.
And when I say ‘with‘ I mostly mean ‘around‘ or ‘close by’.
For some reason I have agreed to run a leg on a Sinister Seven team this year. I am in charge of not dying on leg two. I am not being ridiculous, my goal is to not get injured while putting in a decent pace so as to not embarrass my teammates who, for some strange reason, think it is a good idea to have me run with them.
- Even stranger, I said yes when they asked me.
In an effort to avoid experiencing a medi-vac experience first hand, I have started running with Fast Trax. They are a group of super speedsters who rarely fall over on the trails because they run like gazelles and are known for winning races.
- I am known for falling over and being closer to the back than the front at any given race.
Showing up for the first time was reminiscent of my first day in the fourth grade when I changed schools. Everyone knew everyone else, where to go and what was expected. Once again I was the awkward girl with the strange name who was trying to look like she knew what she was doing.
All of the super speedsters come equipped with watches that beep incessently and track everything about everything, they all know the lingo and run at ridiculous speeds while still being able to talk.
I am just a girl with an iPhone and a “MapMyFitness” app.
Nearly every workout goes something like this:
- Warm up run (20 minutes)
- Insane speed intervals
- Recovery run (10 minutes-ish)
- Insane speed intervals part duex
- Cool down run (20 minutes)
Everyone sprints until the computer on their arm notifies them it is time to jog for the allotted recovery time and then when the beeping starts again, they start running like their arses are on fire.
*Rinse and Repeat*
Three minutes into my first workout, I found myself wondering how I was going to survive. Their warm up pace felt like sprinting to me, but according the the website, which I had read earlier that day, sprinting was next. While banter about races, upcoming vacations and work swirled around me, I simply tried to keep breathing and not lose the group. I have been lost on a group run before, its embarrassing when a search team of speedsters has to come back to find you lumbering along unhurt, simply suffering from a case of being severely average.
After everyone else was warmed up and I was already half dead, we paused to go over the workout as a group.
“So tonight we are doing 2 minutes by 6 with 1 minute of regeneration, always slinky-ing back, 10 minutes of recovery and then 2 minutes by 6 with 1 minute of regeneration again and then we run back home. Your sprint should be at your half marathon pace. Any questions?”
Sure I had questions, but heck as if I was going to ask any of them.
- Half marathon pace? What’s that?
- How do you not fall over on the ice?
- What happens if I pass out? I didn’t sign a waiver form. Shouldn’t there be waivers for this sort of thing?
- The tightness in my chest … is this due to being out of shape, running anxiety or a combination of both?
- What is this about a slinky?
- Why am I the only one experiencing an extreme gravitational pull on her Lululemon pants?
No problem. I got this.
The fated words I usually utter prior to something ridiculous, painful or epic happening.
- Luckily I kept my big, fat mouth shut for the the first workout.
There is an art to looking smart, just don’t say anything. While they sprinted ahead at whatever ‘Half Marathon Pace’ is, I simply ran fast and tried not to lose sight of them, knowing I could not do this for more than 2 minutes; 21.1 kms was completely out of the question.
Then we did that 11 more times with a ‘regeneration run’ in the middle of the torture.
Regeneration Run – A painful gait associated with leg trembles, wheezing noises as your lungs search for oxygen molecules and bewildered thoughts of rain despite the cloudless sky as sweat drips off your eyebrows.
Somehow I made it through to the end of the workout and was more than happy to jog at a Donloree approved pace back to the Fast Trax shop.
The downside of looking smart – no one tells you anything.
All the speedsters were waiting at the top of the last hill for the last runner, which happened to be your’s truly.
- No runner left behind … or something.
I was simply trying to make my legs continue to turn over while going up the hill which is stressful without fourteen pairs of speedy eyes watching the horizon for your long awaited arrival. At the top, all I wanted to do was bend over at the waist and work on getting air into my lungs. My arrival cued a celebratory circle of fist pounding followed by sprinting the rest of the way back to the shop.
Somehow my jello legs and I made it back without losing the group completely.
Yes. I was the woman leaning on the light post at the traffic stop; sometimes you can’t will yourself to stay upright and require additional help in whatever form you can get it.
Being the worst person in a group of elite athletes isn’t the worst thing in the world; maybe some of their speedy superpowers will rub off on me.
The path to being good at something is choosing to accept being horrible when you start.