I'll admit this picture has little to do with my post but I really like it.
According to Wikipedia, two-a days either refers to a 2006 MTV show about a high school football team, or more generally a tradition in high school football to run two practices a day in the summer, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Usually referred to as "hell week", and although in my context two-a-days do not last a week (thank goodness) I would have no problem agreeing they are hell.
To me, two-a-day means two runs in one day. Something that I just cannot get behind no matter how hard I try. I recognize that if you are an elite runner you probably run twice a day. I also recognize that when you are not running you are either eating, or sleeping, and probably not at your full time job, which although pretty fabulous, does not at all relate to running. There have only been two instances that I have done two runs in a day, both long runs, and both necessary to meet my weekly mileage.
The first time, was just about two years ago, training for my second marathon. I had gone home for the weekend to run a 5k with my littlest sister, who was hoping to PR and did not. I did roughly a 2 mile warm up, the 3 mile race I ran the 5 miles back to my house. With 10 miles under my belt I spent the morning/early afternoon sleeping on the couch until it was time to head back out again. I completed an 8 mile loop around town and when I was done I wasn't sure my legs would ever work again. I'm pretty sure if they could talk to each other they would be saying "WTF are you doing to us? we thought we were done and could rest and then you take us out for 8 more miles? seriously NOT cool!" Thankfully they are just legs and keep quiet.
The second time I did two runs in one day was Saturday.
After a wonderful run through Valley Forge park with Team Challenge Philly, I headed off to Kelly Drive for another six. On the way, stuck in the glorious mid morning traffic only 76 can bring, I sipped on some Gatorade and chocked down a few shot blocks so I wouldn't be dying from hunger, at least not for a while anyways. Traffic let up before I could use up what remained of my energy on anger and in minutes my car was parked and I was ready to go. I had also changed into a t-shirt in the car, from my long sleeve Nike, but was immediately wishing I didn't have to wear a shirt at all. It was HOT!
"Better get this over with," was all I could think about as I took off up the hill to Falls Bridge. I decided on West River, thinking it would be less crowded and possibly more shady, I clearly wasn't thinking that there were no leaves out yet when I made that decision. Not even across the bridge, I was feeling winded and realized I probably should have taken a second shot of my inhaler. Could have gone back, but didn't. The stubbornness in my personality makes it hard for me to veer off track from something I have planned. Right now I was already starting my run and I refused to go back, convinced myself I would be fine.
And breathing wise, I was fine, my legs however were another story. It was like starting an old car that didn't like to run, in the middle of winter, and it's low on gas. My legs were thinking they were done, they got up early, they stretched, stood out in the cold morning air, and then ran four miles of hills. It's a different kind of pain that comes from being tired, taking a short break, and then starting again. This is why I am constantly fearful about taking a walk break. I get so comfortable I don't want to start running again, and the pain that comes with starting up is too much. But I know I must push on and So I do. I push on for two and a half miles until I am running so slow it is practically a walk, and yet I am panting as if I am sprinting for the finish line. I am kicking myself for not turning back for my inhaler. So I walk. I walk as runners pass me in ever direction. I walk as I catch my breath and feel stupid for having to give up.
The longer I walk, the dumber I feel and by the time I hit my turn around point I am so angry I am determined to run the rest of the way back. No matter how much it sucks I am proving to myself right now I can do this. It was a long, slow, sometimes jog to the end, but I made it. I don't even remember what I kept telling myself to keep going but whatever it was it worked. I congratulated myself on little accomplishments, like crossing every quarter mile mark. I watched people to pass the time. I kept thinking how proud of myself I would be when I just finished this damn run. And I thought about how good Dunkin Donuts iced coffee would taste when I was through (after my Gatorade to re-hydrate of course!)
And when I was faced with the last uphill stretch I picked the most pumped up kick butt song on my IPod, turned up the volume and just ran like there was no hill at all. The last quarter mile was a blur of amazing and when I was done I practically collapsed onto my car with exhaustion. Of course the first thing I wanted to do was call my mother and tell her all about it.
You never know what you can accomplish until you try, and even when you fail there is nothing stopping you from trying again, except yourself.