Monday, November 2, 2009

Is it a pain threshold?

Pakistan changed me. I've said it before. It is like I have a mental glaze that comes sometimes and allows me to easily do things I would have considered hard only six months ago. For example I mapped out and ran a 3:02:55 marathon yesterday with over 1900 feet of up and down and it was not hard. I just unofficially qualified for the boston marathon on a moderately hilly course by 8 minutes without really trying.

How can I better describe this feeling? It is pleasure. It is kind of like being numb, not just my legs but in my head as well. My legs were a little tight the last six miles but I could still feel that they were hurting a little. It's like my brain said to my body, "Nobody cares if you are tired. This isn't hard."

Here is my theory: In Pakistan every mountain climber that died this summer was more experienced than I am. Now because I only made it to 7000 meters and felt pretty good I feel that up at 8000 meters it must be exponentially harder because people die so frequently. Let me connect that a little better. If I felt good at 7000 meter I would guess more experienced people would feel better at 7000 meter and if they died at 8000 meters than it must just be crazy hard to get that high and come back. So I guess my definition of hard is something like a 19 hour day from 7000 to 8000 and back. A three hour run pales in comparison. Additionally, making these eight or six hour hikes between camps while you are never moving terribly fast you are continually breathing hard and somewhat tired. So again what is a three hour run in shorts and singlet compared to a six hour hike when you can hardly breathe and your fingers are freezing at 22,000 feet?

So I think it is a mental change that I have gone through. I might have physically been capable of this for the last two years but my mind is now sugar coating the pain and it doesn't feel too bad. In fact it is that kind of good honest working tired pain.

What is next for me? Probably a six hour race in RI in two weeks where I want to win and break into the top 30 in the world for this year. I also want to PR in the half marathon in practice sometime soon as well. Oh and I'm leading an ice climbing trip in December.

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