You know when you sleep so hard you wake up with a pillow imprint on your face? That's how I woke up Saturday morning.
The week had been exhausting: On top of working out, I was also dealing with a hectic work schedule to try to get things done before my vacation. I also wasn't getting enough sleep.
Anyway, by the time Saturday morning rolled around, I looked like Bustation Nation when I woke up at 6:35 a.m. with a spastic jerk. I was supposed to be on the bridle path at Central Park West and 63rd by 7 a.m., and I had 25 minutes to get there from East Harlem. I never oversleep so this rare occurrence was definitely a testament to my extreme fatigue.
But I had to get it together. Sid had called me the night before, and I promised I'd be there in the morning to train with him and the New York Road Runners Team for Kids. "I wouldn't miss it," I assured him.
I made it to the park at 7:04 and tried to psych myself up for the 14-mile group training run. My stomach growled, my mouth was already dehydrated and pasty, my legs felt dangerously close to getting a case of the crampsters.
"Fourteen miles," I thought. "This is going to be interesting." Don't try this at home, kids. Running that much so soon after beginning training is absolutely not what you’re supposed to do but I was going on vacation next week and needed to get a long run in to assess where I am in my training, so I did it.
Side told me to run with the fastest group -- these are the folks who are trying to run a 3:15 to 3:30 marathon. My fastest marathon was Los Angeles, which I finished in 3:29. New York last year was not a good race for me, and I finished in 3:55. Even though it’s not apples to apples (New York is more difficult), I do think I can do better.
(Now, just to remind you, I did not start running until I was 26 when I showed up to the first Team in Training practice with absolutely no clue what I was doing. So even though I do want a better time, the fact that I’m running with the fast kids now is still a little bit of a miracle to me. I've come a long way, baby.)
But let’s get back to the run. We were running slower than race-day pace for training purposes, around 8:45 a mile. Normally for me this would be a relaxed, comfortable pace, but because I was too tight to even do the warm-up, and really just wanted to lay down in the grass and hold myself, I wasn’t too sure how this was all going to go down. It could break bad at any moment.
But we took off, and it was too late to punk out now. Even though I felt like I was channeling my old buddy Fred Sanford, my competitive spirit got the better of me, and I hung with the pace leader and bunch of guys at the front.
By the time mile four rolled around, I was kind of awake. By mile seven, I was definitely awake. And by mile 10, I thought, “Okay, I got this."
I had to really kick it the last mile; at this point, it was around 9:40 a.m. and I needed to go back home, shower and change and be someplace downtown by 10:30. How was that gonna work? Also, I couldn’t let the boys beat me, even if I was on my last leg (pun intended). I kicked out the last mile -- you always finish strong, no matter what -- and somehow managed not to have a heart attack and still make my 10:30 appointment (okay, more like 10:40).
I was pretty exhausted Saturday afternoon and got some sleep. On Sunday, I did a recovery swim and felt good as new. There was some tightness in my legs, but really, pretty good.
So I’m on vacation this week but will not be taking a break from training. My shoes are packed and I’ll be hitting the road at Martha’s Vineyard. Sid Superman is going to check in with me Tuesday to see how I’ve recovered and give me the workout rundown for the rest of the week. Will report back after I get my marching orders from the Boss Man, and most importantly, this week, I WILL get some sleep.
Jennifer Turner is a veteran television executive in New York City. A certified group fitness instructor and self-proclaimed "fitness activator," she believes that everyone has ability, with the right tools, social support, and inspiration to be able to connect to fitness in an emotional way. Her mission is to activate that ability and to inspire communities across the country. Jennifer blogs at madcoolfitness.com.