Sunday, March 18, 2012
Geritol vs. Testosterone: A Vertical Challenge for the Vertically Challenged
It was a good choice. It wasn't even that cold. I started out in shorts, but kept my long sleeved shirt and gloves on. There wasn't too much wind and the sun finally came out after a while. I felt amazingly good, it seems like my recovery has been so much faster than I thought. Maybe it was the refueling yesterday afternoon plus another long nap.
Tortilla Marissa's, a restaurant owned by our running friends Doug and Connie DeMercurio. They were having a celebration and fundraising event for a puppy rescue organization in honor of their daughter Marissa's dog, Tortilla, who was having her first birthday. Tilla looked adorable in her little green bandana. Tilla's grand-dogma (Connie), baked a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting for everyone who attended.
I indulged in each of the three basic food groups, green chile, margaritas, and chocolate, for a well-balanced, wholesome and appropriate recovery meal on the patio, in warm temperatures, where I was wearing one of my Walmart tops underneath a sweater (Seventy degrees and drinking a cold margarita is not warm enough for me to expose skin). But it helped me feel like I was getting a little taste of Florida.
I took Iris for a couple of miles this morning and then came home and drove to the park trailhead. My plan was to run the first one and see how my ankle held up, and possibly do a second one, but I sort of doubted that would happen. Usually I start the year with just one Rock Repeat because my quads are shot after that. It's 1100 feet of climb in 2.1 miles and then you have to descend. The plan was to run super easy, especially on the downhills, so I'd be able to walk, squat, and crouch for the next two days at work, which really helps when you have to sit on those low stools to start IVs and do dressing changes and such.
So it was my vertical challenge for the day, and being 5'1" tall on a good day I am already vertically challenged. I also thought of Bob and Paul, my two vertically challenged running friends, both of whom have made this past week an extreme horizontal challenge to my willpower to resist a trip to Florida.
It was also a vertical challenge for my ankle, because the last time I ran this trail last June, it was screaming at me.
I started out on the Southridge Trail as usual, which is really not a trail but a service road for the park. A few yards into it I noticed the first changes since last season, which was the construction of numerous waterbars across the trail, which act not only to drain water off the trail, but also as giant speed bumps, which would have the effect of slowing mountain bikers who tend to fly around the curves of this heavily used trail.
The waterbars themselves made the trail even more of a vertical challenge, some of them were huge, big enough to swallow me up.
It was cooler today, and mostly cloudy. Whatever is causing that rain in LA and made the temperatures in Death Valley cooler than here yesterday is moving our way, with snow in the forecast for tomorrow. But I'll be indoors at work all day, right? It won't matter. I don't run on my work days anyway. I won't even notice, because it will be dark by the time I leave the hospital both days.
So I reached the top, snapped a few pictures, wondered how I ever survived my pre-iPhone days, and started heading downhill. Very cautious and slow, mindful of my ankle, because I wasn't wearing a brace and this was the longest excursion on uneven, rocky technical terrain I've done since last spring.
There are several parts of the Southridge Trail that are rocky and technical, but they are short. I did just fine, not a peep out of the ankle! Yay!
I reached the bottom and went to my car, feeling like I didn't do anything. I decided to do another Rock Repeat just as easy as the first one, hoping that running slow downhill would preserve my quads. But then I thought: if my quads do get sore, that will keep me from wanting to run a 100K in Florida next weekend!
At the beginning of my second trip, I started about 30 seconds ahead of a group of 5 cyclists. I was running easy, and expected them to pass me on the gentle grade at the bottom. I got to the first switchback ahead of them, and then going up the long, steep grade to where the trails fork, only two of them passed me at the top, the others were close behind. Again, I continued running on the next flat section and they were with me as we all made the turn to start up the next steep part. The whole way up these 5 guys were with me. A couple of them would be ahead by a few feet, and the others were right behind. A few times one of them would do a quick sprint and get ahead of me, and then fall behind as I ran past. Finally I think he realized he wasn't going to avoid being chicked and just rode a steady pace, which happened to be my pace.
When I got to the first saddle, before the final steep rocky technical climb, where there's another trail fork to take a gentler, less technical route to the same place, they stopped. They looked at the fork in the trail and started to go to the right. I couldn't help myself. The RPB (random perimenopausal bitch) was rearing her ugly head.
"You guys are taking the wimpy route! This way is more challenging!" I continued running up the rocks, enticing them to go with me. They waited for the rest of their group to join them, and I continued on to the top. When I reached the saddle for my turnaround, I looked at my watch. I ran one of my fastest times ever on the ascent. It didn't even feel hard.
I stopped at the top, took a drink, and started heading down. I decided to take it easy on the descent again, I didn't want to risk twisting my ankle and I could feel my quads at that point. Just as I made the turn onto the technical section, the first of the 5 cyclists was coming up the short slickrock section.
I cheered for them. "Good job!" (I'm so cruel and heartless. RPB for sure.)
One of them said to me, "I don't know how you do it."
I said, "Good riding, this is tough."
I reached the bottom again, uneventfully, feeling good about my run and my fast ascent. Judging from the look of the 5 cyclists, not only did I chick them, but I sharpei'd them, too!
Hey, when you get to be my age, you gotta take what you can get.
And if I can't walk tomorrow, I can only blame myself for getting caught up in the Geritol vs. Testosterone race to the top, but it will make me less likely to want to go to Florida, where the old people hang out...right?