Chase Parnell November 18, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Run Me to Death - Page 3

As we continued, my athletic disadvantages became apparent. Rod's VO2max and lactate threshold exceed to mine and he runs more than I do. We were averaging an eight-minute-per-mile pace, but, on this terrain and 3000-foot elevation, the effort resembled six-minute-per-mile pace. Can I run 20 miles at six-minute pace? No. Something had to give. Rod offered a few colorful analogies for what we were feeling.

"This is when my legs start to feel marinated," he said.

"My legs skipped marinating and plunged straight into the deep fryer," I replied.

"This run is kind of like an onion: the hills peel you away one layer at a time until you have nothing left." I only hoped that I was a bigger onion with more layers than I thought.

We began to ascend what Rod calls (cue slasher-movie music) ... The Scar. The Scar is an 800-foot near-vertical climb with no apparent trail. For balance, I grasped at rocks and tufts of dead grass. By now, so few oxygen molecules were flowing to my brain that I accepted my fate, much like the Titanic musicians who continued playing their instruments in the face of certain drowning. Don't think about the pain, don't think about Rod, just move forward, I said to myself.

As we ticked off the miles and 1000-foot climbs, blood, sweat and tears flowed from me while Rod remained impervious. Eventually I saw the car. Oh, sweet baby Jesus, we were done! At first I was relieved. Then I started to feel like a big deal. You might as well call me Survivorman.

"So, do you consider that a typical training run?" I said on the drive home.

"Yup. It doesn't get much better than that," Rod replied.

Rod suggested we stop for a bite to eat. While devouring handfuls of tortilla chips bathed in guacamole, sour cream and cheese chunks, I felt an unusual sense of peace. To be honest, running lately had become a chore. To achieve faster race times, running had become a means to an end, an obligation or ritual. I no longer enjoyed the experience of running.

But today I was like a beat-up, worn-out race horse that was suddenly released from the stable to run wild and free with a mustang. It may have been just another run for Rod, but it was a breakthrough for me. I ran with the best, finished on my feet and discovered that my onion does have many more layers to it. My running will never feel the same.


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