Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Marathon: Part II aka Training gets real

Bronchospasms and Doubts:

At some point towards the beginning of training, I ran a 7mile mid-week group run with Erica and Chris, my how shall we say...speedier friends. I was struggling throughout the run but somewhat keeping it together, even though the thought "I can't even run 7 miles, how am I going to run a marathon?" kept cycling through my head. That is until we came upon Main Street, the biggest, baddest hill in town. If you turn onto Main St by Lake Champlain like we did, it goes up and up all the way to school. It doesn't start off too badly, so I was breathing heavily but still running with everyone until we passed in front of Edmunds Elementary where the hill looks like it decided to throw its head back and laugh mockingly at me. I kept heaving and heaving, but the oxygen getting to my legs was no longer enough and they slowed, despite my best efforts, to a slow shuffle. Erica and Chris looped back around for me. We hit a part that leveled out for a while and I caught my breath somewhat, but then we turned up another hill.

The shuffling started instantly this time and then heaving and the wheezing took on a life of their own. A shackled rattling sound started coming from my mouth so loudly that Erica & Chris (now well ahead of me) stopped and turned to see what it was. I pointed to my mouth and shrugged my shoulders, my eyes slightly panicked, to indicate to them I had no idea what was going on. I'd stopped running and my ribs were fluttering in and out in jagged motions. It's sheer panic when you're trapped in a body that's lost control of something so vital as breathing. Erica and Chris ran back down to me. I could only get words out in random spurts since I couldn't predict when the spasms would let air cross my vocal cords. The embarrassment started to reign, my breath sounds were uneven and loud and I had uncontrollable tears streaming down my face. Chris, whose brother has asthma, told me to bend over. He put his hand on my back and told me to try to push my ribs against his hand, to gain some control with my accessory breathing muscles. My tears splashed against the concrete sidewalk as my breathing slowly calmed down. Woah. That was scary. That's never happened to me before. We decided it must be a combination of pushing too hard and the cold, February air.

Erica suggested we walk up the rest of the hill and then start running again.

'Woah, wait...can't I be done now?! Remember when that really scary thing just happened?!? Surely I shouldn't keep running. But I guess they would keep running?? Although I guess I'm not by home so I would probably need to run home at least. Maybe I should run with them a little first to make sure I'm okay.'

All this runs through my head as we start running again, and I actually feel fine except the residue of panic left in my lungs. We end up on one of Chris' 'adventure runs' through fences and woods and yards, which slows us down a bit and gives my lungs some more recovery time. As we head back to school though, we turn up another hill, less steep by relentlessly long. One of those hills that keeps going around every corner. A little ways up, I'm struggling and announce 'I think I'm going to walk' as my feet change gait, which is met instantly by Erica whirling around with shock and concern on her face "No. You can't stop now! This is the training part! This is how you train for a marathon because your body always wants you to stop, but you just have to keep going."

"Even when the last hill you ran up caused you to temporally lose control of, oh say, YOUR BREATHING??", I think. I really thought I would be off the hook with that one and still can't quite believe I started running again, but Erica's enthusiasm is a force to be reckoned with, the force that convinced all of us to run the marathon in the first place, and it turns out she was right. I ran up the rest of that hill fine, and it was probably good I did it right away. And on my way up that hill, I formulated my 3 goals for this marathon training:

1) Finish the marathon in under 4:30
2) Be able to run up Main St. without even changing pace
3) Be able to run comfortably at Erica & Chris' pace

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