Last Saturday morning, I did a training workout at the Santa Monica Stairs, a series of steep stairs leading from the bluff down to beach level. 189 steps in all. I’d never done it before, but I was cheerful about it. Stairs, shmairs. (For you Angelenos or anyone in the know, there are actually two sets of stairs; I took the one right at Adelaide and 4th.)
On the roster was 2 descents and climbs, a walk to Palisades Park and back, and then 2 more descents and climbs.
The stairs were packed with people, but I felt fine all the way down (nervous about slipping, but whatever). I was confident, even smug, as I bounced off the last step and swung myself around. 189 steps. Doable, right?
About halfway up, I realized that I was in for it. Breathing hard, muscles aching, I looked up at the immensity in front of me and was ready to quit. But how on Earth could I? There was really no choice. I had to go on.
Luckily, there was a slow old lady in front of me so I was able to pace her and make it without my lungs exploding.
That’s right. I paced myself gratefully behind a little old lady.
At the top, I spent a few seconds panting and sucking down water before taking the steps down again. By the time I finished that climb, my legs were shaking and I needed to sit on the curb by the entrance and just try not to die for a while.
The almost painfully slow stroll to Palisades Park helped mollify my mortification, and by the time I got back to the steps, I was cautiously optimistic that I could do it. And I managed to muck through, but the last ascent was particular slow, involved at least one or two pauses, and as I hit the top, I felt a mild wave of nausea pass over me.
I didn’t throw up. But still.
It’s not a good sign five weeks out from a trek in Nepal that this workout winded me. I knew I’d have to make stairs a regular part of my workouts from now on. At least twice a week. I went off and spent the rest of my Saturday just doing normal Saturday things and not thinking at all about the potential for soreness.
Until the following morning. My quads were a little touchy, but it was my calves that worried me: they were sore and rock hard. I drank lots of water and babied myself, trying to walk around as much as I could to loosen them up. The next day was even worse. After even a few minutes of sitting, I would have trouble standing. I walked bow-legged all that day. I made myself go to the gym and do some walking on the elliptical, hoping that this would help. It didn’t.
I was sore all week, in other words.
Yesterday, I tackled the stairs again: 3 descents and 3 climbs, a descent down to PCH access, a walk to the beach, a walk on Ocean Front Walk to Temescal Canyon (about a mile), and then back up Ocean Front, back up to the stairs, and then a final climb. 4 descents, 4 climbs, and an even longer walk than last Saturday.
Only a touch sore this morning.