Vocal Quads

I am having a little talk with my legs.  It goes something like this:  Okay, legs.  That was a pretty weeny bike ride.  What’s wrong?  I know we went at those hills hard, but you are strong!  We ran three days in a row this week, and all has been cool .  The hips are fine, knees are fine, hamstrings are pretty loose.  Relax!  Let’s roll!

They answer back in the only language they know:  body language.  My quads begin complaining as I start the gentle incline on Old Garden Road.  I turn onto Dean Street, another long, slow hill, and by the time I reached South Street, my legs are practically screaming.  I slow down, pulling my pace back to about an 8:30  min/mi.  The bottoms of my feet burn, and I am breathing so easily I might as well be strolling along with my grandmother.  I drag myself up to the second loop of Marmion Way and make the turn there; my quads continue to protest as I push them first up another small hill, then down the long, long slope.  The street levels off for a few hundred yards, and I decide to push a little harder again.  I sprint up the next hill, stop at home for some water, then resume my run, downtown, to the end of Bearskin Neck.  As I crest the tip of the Neck, I feel something give, and my legs suddenly remember they know how to run.  For the last three quarters of a mile I am back on track.  My quads go quiet,  relaxed and settled into the rest of the run.  So— what’s been going on here?

It started last night.   My husband and I decided to cycle outdoors together this morning.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, with a forecast for warm sunshine.   The evening temperature last night hovered in the mid-fifties, which meant the early morning would be fairly warm. On the weekends, I run first, then we bike together.   The cycling has to come first on Fridays to accommodate my husband’s workday.

We haul ourselves from the bed this morning, guzzle coffee and then chia fresca, and prepare for our ride.  I drive the girl to school, so know it is a little cooler out than I had expected it to be.  I dress for a winter morning.  Hubby throws on his blue sweatpants, a long-sleeved tee shirt, and a thick, fleece-lined hoodie.  He dons his wind-resistant goggles to keep his eyes from tearing up.  We buckle into our helmets, strap our water bottles onto their clips, and ride out for our favorite loop.  It’s the first long loop of my running route— Old Garden Road, Marmion Way, Pebble Beach, and Eden Road.

He hollers back to me that his fingers, uncovered by his special biking gloves, are numb.  I holler back, into the wind, that my fingers are fine.  I have worn thick winter gloves.  We pedal along the road, sometimes side-by-side if we are on a back road.  I can’t help but notice how much better shape my husband is in this spring than he was last summer and fall.  All those mornings of riding his recumbent stationary bike this past winter have paid off nicely.  The biggest hills, which I used to peak and then ride in circles at the top until he caught up are equal territory for us this morning.  He wears a pleased and slightly smug grin as I turn to see where he is, only to find him right behind me!  Go, hubby! We take the long loop of Marmion Way back, racing up the last three hills.

While he makes us Irish oats and showers, I decide to go back out for a short run.  I haven’t had enough exercise, and the weather is so glorious that I find not running impossible.  I switch out the trainers for the Nike Free shoes, added a vest and my Nike+iPod and take off.  My legs, accustomed to running, have just finished pumping pedals up a bunch of steep hills.  And, the running/biking summer ritual is to run first, bike second.  The reversal is certainly shaking things up, thus the little talk I have with my body.

I press hard up the last hill, and because my legs finally feel normal, I pass my house one more time to circle the block.  I run until my breath comes hard and fast, then slow to a walk to cool down.  I check my time:  4 miles at 7’53” min/mi.  Whew!  I take time for a good, long stretch session, careful to give extra attention to my quads.  I want them to be happy and quiet all day long, and all through tomorrow’s long run with Sue.  We are traveling out of town to run a new route, and the only vocals I want to hear are Sue’s and the birds’!

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