Sunday, December 1, 2013

Disaster. Or, disaster?

I have a bad case of anemia right now.  Running at normal training speed feels like trying to run at 15,000 feet.  The heart rate that for me would normally result in 8 minute miles on flat ground now gives 12 minute miles.  Counting the preplanned easy week I had in Spain, it's been three and a half weeks that I haven't done any real running. 

In general, I'd say this is pretty much a disaster for Arrowhead.  If I have another 2 or 3 weeks to go before my iron and hemoglobin counts improve, that will leave me a grand total of 3 or 4 training weeks before the race.  That's also sort of a best case scenario; it could be longer (although with the amount of beef, kale, and vitamin C I've been stuffing myself with, I should hope not).

Hence, "disaster."  Or is it?  What I *can* do right now is walk.  And there is certainly plenty of walking to be done at Arrowhead, even if I do want to run more of it than last time.  So I've been going out for lots and lots of gentle walks, sometimes with my tire and sometimes not.  I've also been making the walks as boring as possible, so by the time January 27 rolls around, I'll either be extremely mentally ready or just insane.

Today I added more training value into the mix by driving to Hilton Head (South Carolina, on the Atlantic Ocean), to do some walking on the beach.  Hilton Head is 10 hours roundtrip from where we live, so it was a long day.  I had also forgotten when I left the house this morning that it was the end of Thanksgiving weekend, and when I got on the interstate heading south I was unexpectedly joined by 500,000 Floridians heading home.  It was not the easiest drive (Floridians don't have a good reputation for driving skills!) and I was relieved to finally make it to the beach around 1:30.

The experience of training for Arrowhead here was a little surreal.  At least when I used to train on the beach in Duluth, the water was frozen and there were little icebergs by the shore.  Here, there were palm trees, families having picnics, and reggae music playing from a hotel bar overlooking the area of the beach where I started.  I nearly burst out laughing at the bizarreness of it all.

I pulled a bag of sand and tried to stay on the softer parts of the beach to avoid "cheating" by walking on the nice hard-packed sand nearer the water.  I'm not sure how my $14 duffel bag from Target survived the razor sharp crab shells and other beach debris, but somehow it did, and I was able to get about 10 miles done (with a coffee and cake break in the middle!).  Right at the end I was joined by a friendly walker, which was a welcome change from all the boring trudging.

Arrowhead training--with palm trees.  So bizarre.

I might not be able to run but at least I got to spend sunset on the beach.

I'm still going back and forth on exactly how bad this situation is.  If the anemia hangs on until mid January, there's an outside chance I'd have to reconsider whether I can do the race.  If I am able to do the race, I guess I'll find out then whether my modified training program is a disaster or okay in its own right...