Sunday, July 6, 2014

Run 5: Why do they call it "Big Daddy"?

I realize I have a lot of blogging catch up (blog-up?) to do as I've been MIA for the past few weeks.  I can't promise the wait will be worth it, but I will definitely try to bring everyone myself up to speed.

Training Week 5 found us at the lovely and historic Rose Bowl Stadium, meeting up with the SGV team to run "6 miles."  (6 miles is in quotes for a specific reason, but I will get to that later.)  I was looking forward to running in a new location, as I've learned that I get bored quickly running the same route over and over, and because we were getting treated to walk coaching by the legendary Chuck Fowler.

Don't tell this man that power walking isn't a sport.
 Chuck is a Team In Training legend, and his talk is powerful.  His life story is beyond comprehension, and I am certainly not doing it justice by briefly mentioning it here, but he has survived both Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate cancer, and found race walking to be his venue back into athleticism.  He has been with the program since 2003, first as a participant and now as a coach, and he is very, very motivating.

After a brief training session in proper walk form, we were off to run.  There were only a handful of my teammates that showed, and thankfully Kelsey, one of my favorite mentors, was one of them.  We ran with an SGV assistant coach, and a participant named Ana, who's son had just been cancer free for a week.  This admittedly kept my perspective in check the majority of the course.

If you've never had the luxury of going to the Rose Bowl, it is in a really lovely part of Pasadena.  It's also really, really, REALLY freakin' hot.  It sits in the middle of a valley and is sparsely shaded.  I have been there for both the LA Food Truck Festival as well as the famous Rose Bowl Flea Market and in the warmer months, it is a nightmare temperature-wise.  By the time we started to run, it was almost 8 am and therefore probably close to the high 80s.

To anyone who trains in Arizona, I applaud you.

Before we started our run, one of the coaches briefly went over the route.  In retrospect, I'm glad we were running with one of the assistant coaches because I barely paid attention and had no clue where I was going.  I did, however, catch her mentioning something called "Big Daddy."  What the hell?  What is "Big Daddy"?  Is this some Adam Sandler reference I'm not getting?  Not a single SGV participant balked at this, and she brushed it off like it was a small nuisance so I went back to fiddling with Instagram and didn't think much of it.

That is, of course, until we reached "Big Daddy."

Big Daddy is a steep, switchback climb near the reservoir about halfway through this run.  It is dirt and rock and is about 120ish feet in less than half a mile.  Anyone who can run up this thing is probably half gazelle and not human.  My pace dropped from a 15 minute mile to a 30 min mile because I had no choice but to hike it.  I would have taken a photo but I was too busy keeping my arms available in case I had to rappel upwards.

There was a strategically placed water stop at the top (THANK GOODNESS) and someone with puppies which always brightens my mood.  I could have easily sat there for 20 minutes, but Kelsey kindly reminded me that I needed to move my ass so we could get this over with.  We were only halfway done.  Ugh.

After a quick out and back to a large, random, dirt hole (I don't know how else to describe it) we headed back down Big Daddy.  Because I am a running genius, I thought this would be the appropriate time to pour water on my head.  I didn't, however, tilt my head back far enough, and thus pushed sunscreen and sweat straight into my eyes.  Since we were already halfway down Big Daddy when it finally started to sting, I had no choice but to keep going, and keep my fingers crossed that I didn't misstep and fall down the side of this mountain, which probably would have hurt less than the sunscreen in my eyes.

After was seemed like a hot, never-ending eternity, we finished… and we weren't even the last ones.  It was at this point that Kelsey quietly mentioned to me that we actually ran almost 7 miles instead of 6.  Apparently our assistant coach was just as confused by the directions as I was, and we ran a little further than intended.  Had I known this while running, I would have definitely been whining about it the whole time, but since I found out afterwards?  Hell yeah!  That's the furthest I've ever run in one go in my LIFE!

Celebratory foam rolling!

To add to the celebration, I was also the winner of the 100 Friends; 100 Donations; 100 Hours challenge and raised a whopping $880 in a little over two days.  I couldn't believe it.  The outpour of support from so many corners of my life was incredible, including a handful of donations from people who barely know me, but were inspired by my efforts.  I don't know if I will ever get used to the rush of excitement and gratitude I feel whenever a donation is made towards my goal, especially because I know first hand that it is going to make such a huge impact.  It is the most glorious feeling and it makes the long, hot runs that much easier.

After the Rose Bowl Run (and surviving Big Daddy) I had a long moment of "I am so glad I took this chance."  Even when your job is to convince others that they can do this, its another ball game to put yourself into this position, especially when you are as out of shape as I was to start.  I was, and still am somewhat, plagued with worries - will I get injured? will I be unable to keep up? - but the teammates and now friends who I see each week have continually pushed me along and convinced me I will be just fine.

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