Pushing beyond your limits (and refueling with a chocolate milkshake!)

“Kathryn, I think you would legitimately run until you die.”

That’s what my friend told me after we finished our hill workout today.  (It was a compliment.)  Saying it was the hardest workout I have ever completed would be an understatement.  I think my soul left my body.

I had a pretty rough, emotional night last night for various reasons, but thankfully a 20-minute talk with one of my close friends and a late night walk around my neighborhood calmed me down.  I’m the type of person that never cries, instead getting angry and defensive.  So when I do cry, it is usually a big deal.

Aaaanyway, I decided to channel this emotion into my hill workout this morning.  It was the first hill session of the year, and we did our warm-up jog to the hill (about 13 minutes) and stretched.  Our coach then informed us that our group would be completing six long hills. (They’re each about 400 meters)

Six!! We’d never done more than five, even in the middle of the season.  We completed our ABC skips and then jumped right into the first hill repeat.

The first three were fine, hard, kind of a slap upside the head to remind us how sucky hills were.  Our breathing was labored, our glutes and hamstrings were burning, and we were spent by the top.

This picture is from a hill workout last year... I'm in the purple.  The girl with blue shorts and the girl with green shorts are two of the other three remaining girls this year.

From a hill workout last year; I’m in the purple. The girl with blue shorts and the girl with green shorts are two of the other three remaining girls this year.

The fourth repeat was very hard.  My glutes and hamstrings were on fire, my arm swings got harder to control, and my form started deteriorating.

On the fifth repeat, my workout buddy dropped back, so I had to run the entire freaking thing alone.  My vision started blurring, my right ear became clogged (a personal sign of severe exertion), and I swore I would quit the cross country team as soon as I got to the top of the hill. (I’m joking.)  When I reached the top, I keeled over onto the grass, legs wobbly and unsupportive, gasping for air.  Black spots and dizziness introduced themselves.

The jog back down to the bottom of the hill in preparation for the last hill was like a funeral march.  We had no idea how on earth we would complete the sixth repeat.  I asked my coaches to run with me because I knew I would never reach the top without them.

The final repeat started, and as my coach ran alongside me, his bunny-hop form was amusing enough to distract me…for about two seconds.  I felt like death even before I reached the marker for the top of the short hill (about 270 meters).  The first coach dropped out, and the second coach hopped in front of me.  The entire way up the last, steepest part of the hill, I felt delirious.  “Come on.  I’m the girl in front of you in a race you’re trying to pass.  Get that turnover going!” Coach shouted at me from in front.  Black spots danced in front of my eyes, my head felt like it would explode, and I could hardly feel my body aside from the overwhelming feeling of profound exhaustion and pain.  I stumbled the last 30 meters at a snail’s pace, barely reaching the end before I collapsed onto the grass, head pounding like there was no tomorrow.

I had pushed myself so hard that I was hyperventilating and crying.  I’ve honestly never felt like that EVER.  I could barely stand up, let alone walk down the hill.  At one point as I weaved my way down the sidewalk, I began stumbling into the street, and my coach had to run and grab me before I got hit by a car.

The cool down jog back to school was painful, but somehow I got through it.

So that is the story of my first hill workout of the year- the hardest workout I have ever completed.  I thought the 5 x mile repeats on the track and grass were hard on Tuesday, but it was like a moderate run compared to this.

I’m proud of myself for pushing myself beyond my mental and physical limitations and being the fastest girl today.  It really showed me what I can do!  99.9% of the population will never, ever in their lives experience the feelings that I experienced today, which can only be understood by the tiny percentage that will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.

A minute and forty seconds.  It’s not that long.  The time it takes to brush your teeth.  Half of one song.  How long it takes to put clothes on.  But when you are doing hill repeats, it is the longest fucking minute and forty seconds of your life!!

After the workout, I went to breakfast with two friends (one of whom had also run hills- six short hills) and pigged out refueled on blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, and a chocolate milkshake. 🙂

Ignore our awkward sweaty faces; we were tired

Ignore how awkward we are; we were tired. And the caption.  My friend can’t spell.

I think I will now take a nap.

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