A bad one. Not a little twinge of uncomfortableness, but a big ole-twisty-cringe-worthy cramp. It started on my right side and blossomed into a tight ball of pain until it settled in, right under my rib cage. Running uphill hurt, but running downhill made it almost unbearable. This pissed me off, since running downhill should be nothing but glorious and fun.
There is nothing quite like Hill Day. For 60 minutes once a week, it's like a mad rush of hills, recovery, inside loops, ramps, and s-curves. My favorite: running backwards (weird, I know). I, however, loathe, loathe, loathe the ramp. The ramp-with-cones, where you have to run up, turn around, run up again, this time a bit farther, turn around, is the worst. You end up doing the damn ramp three times before you make it to the top. And the ramp-with-cones mysteriously gets longer and longer with each pass. Today was a ramp-with-cones day.
I blame the ramp for my cramp.
I take my Hill Days seriously. I try to keep the same pace (or faster) for the full hour, and I rarely take a break. Today, however, on what seemed like my 127th pass up that ramp, I bent over in pain, clutching my right side. It was appendicitis, I knew it. My appendix was probably seconds away from bursting and here I was, stuck on that damn ramp. Probably about to die.
I didn't, obviously, and to the best of my knowledge, my appendix did not shatter into a million pieces. It was just a basic runner's cramp. When I say "basic," I mean "hurts like a mother-bleeper!" And as I limped to the bottom of the stairs, wounded, Reinier gave me sound advice: run through it.
This seems to be a constant refrain in running. Feel like you are going to vomit? Run through it. Toenail about to fall off? Keep running. Side-splitting cramp that causes you to double over in pain? Run through it.
The worst (best?) part? It worked. After two laps around the park, the pain went away. I dropped to do 40 push-ups while the memory of the last 10 minutes slowly ebbed away. And with that, Hill Day was over.
And as a few friends pointed out, all of these ailments are good for training. Come race day, the more crazy sh*t I go through, the better prepared I'll be. So on my imaginary "Marathon Preparedness Checklist," I can cross off: stomach cramping, vomiting, passing out, dehydration, hills, gale-force winds, cold temperatures, and now, side cramps. Only things left are cougar attack and snow. Huh.
Later in the morning, after sending the boys off to work and school, all of this ran through my head as I stood in the bathroom, waiting for the shower to heat up. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and without thinking, I killed a spider with my bare hands. Naked.
So yeah, does marathon training toughen you up? Apparently so. Stay tuned until next week, when I wrestle a grizzly.