It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst runners (and likely even by Jane Austen) that the intelligent way to begin building up after a week off would be to go for a short, easy run. I will premise my subsequent sentences by stating that this truly was my intention as I headed down to the treadmill for my first run (yes, the treadmill. Within a week, as the weather turned south of zero and Santa Claus came to town, I became a wimp. What can I say, I became accustomed to the fuzzy warmth of vodka shots and indoor heating.) I looked outside at the heavy gusts of wind blowing trees over the streets, people in furry coats scurrying down the sidewalk and the snow falling wildly, thinking about how pleased I was not to be at the cemetery doing an interval workout. Instead, I began a slow jog on the treadmill of my bright, cheerful, and warm condo gym, armed with my IPOD shuffle. Surprisingly, after a week off my legs felt light and sharp, and in no less than two minutes in I began to increase my 7.5mph pace to something a little more challenging. I upped the pace by .2mph every five minutes or so, until I was fifty minutes into my run and found myself running at 9.0mph quite comfortably. Hmmmm...I thought to myself, is it so bad if I do my first run as a progression run? With Rihanna blasting in my ears ‘COMMON’ COMMON’ COMMON’’ I didn’t give it much of a second thought. Suddenly Usher piped in (pardon the pun) and began to ask for ‘MORE!’, instructing me to ‘LIGHT IT UP, TAKE IT UP HIGHER, PUSH IT TO THE LIMIT GIVE IT MORE!’ and as I am simply unable to say no to Usher, by 55minutes I had suddenly jumped up to 9.8mph (Usher has great powers). I held onto the pace for the next twenty minutes with the help of Ricky J, Tiao Cruz, Lady Gaga, more Usher and of course Far East Movement, which point I figured I had better stop or I’d risk not being able to get out of bed the next day. My run felt stupendous – I almost wished I had a race that weekend so I could put my pent up energy to some productive use (and run with real people) instead of wasting electricity in the gym (and running with my imaginary famous entourage). So my first run ended up being a total of 80 minutes and 12-ish miles, ending in a sub-19:00 5k. Not at all what I expected.
The next day I decided to brave the outdoors (ok fine, I was still a wimp but the gym closes from 8-9AM on weekends. Dammit!) and do the beltline 10 mile loop – it was frigid (TWSS, obvi) but I dressed decently for once so it was bearable. My legs felt a little tired but I wasn’t sore, and I did the loop in a best time of low-74mins, which I found hard to believe considering I was consciously trying not to go too fast. I am beginning to be convinced that time off is a good thing...yes, I am saying it out loud, even though it will come back to haunt me when coach forces further marathon tapers on me and sends me these very words to remind me. Oh, the love-hate! I retreated to the treadmill again on Monday, where my planned easy run turned into another ‘tempo’ of two 12 minute sections at 9 and 9.8mph, followed by 4min sections at 10-10.2mph. Yes, I definitely know how to phase my way into training. That being said, it didn’t feel too strenuous, so perhaps I can pass it off as some light tempo work before doing real intervals outside? Yes?
The rest of the week I stayed outdoors, in true G.I. Jane form. I even did a circuit workout on Tuesday night with Jay and Jacquie (Ja triple threat), though we have finally come to our senses and have stopped doing them outside on the wet and/or frosty grass of Churchill park. There is something completely pointless about doing static strength exercises in the cold and getting soaking wet when you could really be doing the exact same thing inside. Jay kindly invited us to his condo gym, where we went through Kap ‘N K’s torture plan in its entirety (almost), even doing jumps down the carpet of what seemed to be an elegant ballroom. I'm sure that was appreciated.
I can tell my week as a 'normal person' has ended because upon entering Starbucks after a -18 degree run this morning, the employees changed their comments from ‘beautiful’ to ‘OH MY GOD YOU LOOK LIKE A RACCOON!’ That’s a new one. We went from ‘hot and sweaty’, to ‘raccoon-like’. Seriously? I strained to remember if I had accidentally put makeup on at 5:30 in the morning before going out for my run, or perhaps had slept-walked and put mascara all over my face. I was pretty certain that my face was untouched, so I asked them what made me reminiscent of such an animal. ‘Your face is bright red except for around your eyes! It looks so funny!’ Well, they sure aren’t discrete, but at least they’re honest? I am convinced that they think I am some kind of scientific specimen whose phenotype they must observe and record on a daily basis: ‘The evolution of raccoon runner: 2010’. At least I seem to be providing them with a dynamic range of data and what seems to be a constant source of entertainment!
Back to the run - Thursday’s run was perhaps the most rude awakening to winter. Now Wednesday was cold – I met Nic in Forest Hill and prided myself in being able to withstand -8 degree temperatures for 80 minutes and actually getting hot at the end. Of course, Thursday we ran longer and it was a frigid -18 with wind chill. Seriously, what month is it? Isn’t this supposed to come in late January? My hands got frostbite for probably the tenth time now, and upon my return home I spent five minutes in the gym washroom shrieking while they oh-so-slowly and painfully thawed to room temperature (I wonder what the people in the next room were thinking?).
Perhaps I should just move to Russia, as it would be just as cold and I would have access to superfluous amounts of cheap vodka. And of course as the saying goes:
“In America, you can always find a party.
In Soviet Russia, the party always finds you.”
I like it. (Subject to your own interpretation, of course!)