Annual Birthday Workout--55. Man!
For almost 10 years now I’ve been doing this silly all-day birthday workout. I do my age in chin-ups, push-ups, crunches then miles. It’s a hell of a challenge trying to get stronger and fitter as the years go by.
Anyway, the day came and I was up at 5 AM. In just a few minutes I was out in the garage busting out a set of 30 chin-ups followed by 55 push-ups then quickly over to 25 chin-ups again. The crashes were a piece of cake. All that stuff is the easy part. Now I climbed into my loaded-up car and headed to Fanuel Park in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego.
I have a five-mile loop that I would do 11 times. My good buddy Coach Tom Atwell and his friend Cole met me there and ran the first two loops with me. At 6 AM, just as we were about to take our first step, a friend from work, Angela, showed up and joined us for the first loop too. What a pleasant and friendly surprise.
With not a cloud in the sky and comfortable, cool temperatures, the early miles were effortless. At the end of loop two, Coach (and Cole) peeled off to go paint his mother-in-law’s house. He said he would be back later.
Loops three, four and five continued to be absolutely effortless. I noticed however that I really was not sweating much and that my mouth and throat were awfully dry. After mile 20, I stopped at my car for the first time and guzzled down a couple liters of water and had an energy bar. Realizing that it was getting really warm with super low humidity, I made a note to pay close attention to my fluid and electrolyte needs. I had some Seattle Gummy EnerGon Power Up gummies which definitely powered me up. They’re awesome. Try them.
Starting loop six, I ran into Stephanie, one of the ER nurses from work, who was out on her morning run. This was another really pleasant surprise. A few miles later, I had become exceedingly thirsty. I passed by a group of people on their patio sitting down to lunch. Behind them in the shade, I saw a 24 pack of bottled water. Normally I would not ask strangers for something like this, but I simply couldn’t resist. That water looked like the nectar of the gods! One of the ladies in the group handed me a bottle which I inhaled. Just then, Theresa, another nurse from work, walked out of the cottage. We both could not believe it. She was so surprised to see me and correspondingly I was so embarrassed that she busted me wimping out and asking strangers for help on one of my big workouts. Theresa’s family had rented a cottage on the bay for the week. This would end up being a huge boost because now I had more entertainment on each subsequent loop. Also, I would bum a bottle of water and some electrolytes every time I went by.
It was here that they told me that this was the hottest day so far this year in San Diego with super low humidity. No wonder I was not sweating. No wonder I had only pee’d twice and only very small amounts. It’s a bitch running in hot weather, especially when one is not adequately heat trained.
For loops seven and eight, my pace slowed as the temperature continued to climb. I could tell my fitness was strong, but I simply was not hydrating enough. After mile 40, with eight loops in the bank, I stopped at my car and drink 2 L of water, had two salt tablets providing 500 mg of sodium and put down a can of SpaghettiOs. Delicious.
I struggled on the ninth loop. But I knew that soon Coach would show up and “take me home” for the last ten miles. I later learned that the high temp today would be 94 with only 16% humidity. And man could I feel it. By now, I had started cramping big time. I needed more electrolytes. I had to stop every half-mile or so to stretch. I was so mad at myself for having let that happened.
Except for the cramps, the last five miles went very well. My pace was decent. I was happy with my fitness. This was a really good test to evaluate my recent training. With all the races canceled because of the stupid virus restrictions, I’ve been struggling with trying to maintain my fitness without having something to aim for. Though I don’t have any races scheduled until next February, I don’t want to ease back on my training, knowing how hard it is to gain fitness and how easy it is to lose it.
When we finished, we took a couple obligatory photos and I sat on the grass in the park. What a relief to finish this mega workout. I was proud of my effort.
Many people have asked me why I do this year after year. They say, “Why don’t you just chill out and relax and do nothing on your birthday?” Of course, my answer is complicated. First of all, I absolutely love running and training. It’s also a challenge to continue to get stronger and fitter as I age. I love that I demand so much of myself. Another major reason is that I basically get 11 hours to myself to reflect on the past year and to think about what might happen this next year. We all know that time sure flies. It’s important to “Stop and Smell the Roses.” No, in my case "Run and Smell the Roses!"