What better segway to this post than my last entry, dated only three days ago. You may have noted that this was Monday, a day that has been established as my scariest day of the week. Of course, this means practice at Churchill for HILLS, DRILLS and INTERVALS. It was another rainy day, though the rain miraculously cleared for my jog up to the park. I was also sufficiently behind schedule so as to miss the DRILLS portion of the workout, and make it just in time for strides. Could this be a turning point in my dreary and difficult Monday streak? I could only hope.
We gathered around coach, nervously awaiting the torture plan she had in store for us. She surveyed us slowly, as if trying to determine just how evil she would have to be to maintain her threatening presence. I secretly hoped our faces looked terrified enough that she would take *some* pity on us.
“Can anybody guess the workout?” She toyed.
Of course everyone was silent, since we have learned that trying to guess is futile. After a few seconds she stated that it would start with 4x800m at ‘hard-tempo’ or ‘hardish but not hard’ effort, with 90s rest. We got started and went through the first repeat in 2:40, which I hoped was at this ‘hardish but not hard’ effort she was so eloquently asking for. The next three repeats were bang on consistent 2:40s, so I assumed I ran them at an appropriate pace. I tried to make Meghan take the lead on the last one but she shyed away, even though she had been on my heels for every repeat. Instead she ran close behind me, apparently making me almost elbow her in the face (oops). Meghan is our newest club member, but is so special that she already has more nicknames than everyone else (no pun intended). They include ‘PJ’ – for infamously wearing her pyjamas to two morning practices – as well as ‘Everyone else,’ (don’t ask) and a new one we came up with on Monday - ‘Energizer Bunny’ - since she never seems to tire. Her balance of speed and endurance is impressive, and starkly contrasts the laid-back, aloof attitude that she brings to workouts. I am convinced that this facade is a tool she uses to trick her competition into thinking she is not a threat, so that when the gun goes off she can creep up on them and crush them unexpectedly...
Much like last week, after the 800s we were ushered down the steps for what we assumed were some good ‘ol hills! Once again, this is where Ms. Stevenson began to go loopy on us.
“Everyone! Pick a number between 1 and 5” She demanded.
“1” “4” “5” “3” “2” Were the chorus of yells that came back at her.
“Hmmmm....1 plus 4 plus 2 plus 1 plus 5 plus 3....you guys want to do 16 repeats?”
Again, silence befell the group when we truly had no idea where she was going with this.
“Huh?” I muttered to myself. She then dismissed the number calling game and told us to sprint up pregnant lady AS FAST AS WE COULD, emphasizing that she wanted us to practically die at the top or we weren’t going hard enough.
“NO TEMPO!!! HARD! HARD! HARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRD!” She yelled.
Meghan was the first to retreat in fear at coach’s menacing words.
“Meghan: ARRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHH! GO MEGHAN, GO! HARRRRRRRD! GOOOOOOOOOOOOO” Nic screamed at her. Meghan took off (perhaps only to escape Nic, but as a convenient consequence ran up the designated hill) and we each followed single file, booking it up pregnant lady. We repeated this four times, all the while Nic growling and yelling at us to go harder and faster. To our surprise, after these repeats most of the girls were done – except for G.I. Jane, the Energizer Bunny and Kap ‘N K, of course. What was shocking was the fact that I was able to guess the next repeat – something I have never been able to do – as the 1500m hill loop. We powered through the repeat in 5:40 and voila, the workout was DONE. I smiled at the fact that I had gotten through it and that it hadn’t been nearly as bad as the week previous. I should not have celebrated so soon.
Kap ‘N K, Meghan and I began our cooldown jog back downtown in good spirits. We discussed our upcoming races and realized that Meghan and I would be going head-to-head in the Toronto Women’s Only 5 miler in three weeks. Meghan then jokingly (?) commented on how my elbow seems to align perfectly with her face (she’s a petite girl), as she was running close behind me for the second time that night. I think I sensed some anger in her voice now that I think about it. The next thing I knew, my feet were caught underneath me, causing me to fly forwards down the steep incline of Russel Hill Road. I staggered and struggled to catch my balance, but instead slammed down hard on my hands and knees on the muddy, cold and wet pavement. I immediately felt my right knee begin to throb.
“Are you okay?!” Kap ‘N K shrieked worriedly ( I think I saw Meghan giggling from the corner of my eye).
“Ummm...yes...I think I’m fine!” I stuttered back.
“Oh gosh that was so scary!” Kap ‘N K continued. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Oh, my! Did I trip you?” Meghan finally asked with feigned innocence.
“Um, YA. I THINK SO.” I said bluntly.
“Oh dear, you are going to need a bubble around you from now until your race to make sure you don’t get injured!” Meghan exclaimed.
‘Is that a threat?’ I thought to myself in a mix of fear and anxiousness, ‘Does Meghan want to kill me? Does she want to beat me THAT badly?’ My mind raced.
Once we got to the stop lights I looked down at my knee, only to see blood gushing down my leg from the muddy mess that was once my kneecap.
“Look what you’ve done Meghan!” I screamed. “I had better not be injured or coach will be after you!” I continued. Meghan displayed little sympathy, carrying on her conversation with Kap ‘N K while I ran five steps in front, avoiding Meghan at all costs and trying to ignore the incessant throbbing of my kneecap.
It is now three days later, and my knee is swollen, bruised and scarred. It hurts even more than it did initially, though the pain is worse when I sit and walk than when I run (few would be thankful for this fact other than me). Although Meghan was unsuccessful in her attempt at sabotaging my race (thus far), she did ensure that Mondays remain the most cursed day of the week. At least I know who my enemies are, and that their demise is only an elbow swing away!