Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Angels

This past week marks my first official week of marathon training. The plan was to maintain at 80 miles, throwing in a slightly longer run than normal (26k) and a longer interval workout. I ended up covering 87 miles in 6 days without the second longer workout with relative ease, which has made me realize how tangible running 90-100 miles/week is. That being said, I don’t want to jump up too quickly so I will likely maintain at 85-90 for the next couple of weeks.

On Monday night the roads were clear so we did a number of loops around Forest Hill, totalling 6k of hard effort [1.5k flat/3.5k hilly/200m flat/3x300m hill in 5:07 (3:30/km)/13:08 (3:47/km)/38 (3:10/km)/68-72 (3:46-4:00/km)]. I spent the entire workout trying to chase down Nic, which was virtually impossible. This is obviously normal, but bugged me more than usual since I was feeling really strong but could never close the gap between us. She looked very aggressive and peppy, and afterwards admitted she had been taking mega iron pills and extra rest for the last two weeks because she had been feeling tired. So I don’t feel so bad knowing she was basically cheating and blood doping in order to beat me.

Our circuit workout was a challenge despite missing our one-and-only Kap ‘N K, who has gone to Oxford for 6 months. I want to say that I miss her, but the fact that she is sending us weekly workouts to do on our own that are evil and torturous has squashed any sense of regret from me. Especially when they consist of 100 push-ups and back-to-back push-ups and dips, frog jumps, burpies and 2 minute wall sits. I thought I might be able to slack off a little without her there to critique my form, but Jay has apparently take it upon himself to play the role of drill sergeant and has made any laziness virtually impossible. I suppose this will ultimately lead me to accomplish my goal of completing 25 full push-ups in succession by the end of 2011, but I still opt to complain about it.

I did my long run Thursday and it went by surprisingly quickly. I met up with a number of the angels at 6AM, which definitely tested my wake-up time limits. Waking up at 5 and leaving the house before 6AM is officially nutty in Coolis-land (strange where I seem to draw my limits...) though I was happy to get in 16 miles before 8AM. The run felt easy, though I suspect I was half-asleep for at least half of it so perhaps I wasn’t quite conscious of the time going by. I ended up doubling that day too for a daily total of 20 miles, which on top of my 12+9 double on Tuesday brought me to 65 miles in four days. I was feeling great, but in the back of my mind knew it could come back to haunt me, so I was a little nervous about conquering the big 3k/2k/2x1k/2x500m workout planned for Saturday.

On Friday night, however, we were blessed with a massive downpour of snow that continued through Saturday. I woke up on Saturday morning in a complete winter wonderland but was naive and juvenile enough to think it would be fun to try and run through it. By the time I arrived at the cemetery, however, I felt like I had aged ten years and scaled Mount Everest. I was bitter and tired and not at all amused by the snow. Furthermore, even though the cemetery is one of the first places in Toronto that is cleared, snow was still piling up quickly. We amassed at McInnes Rock and chuckled at each other’s snow-covered eyelashes and Andrea’s bright red cheeks. Jacquie’s eyelashes apparently actually froze to one another causing her to run blind, which she acknowledged added an interesting extra little challenge to the workout. We discussed swapping a run workout with an ‘alternative circuit workout’ of snow angel-making, but when coach arrived she informed us that a tempo run would replace the dreaded 8k of intervals. I have to say I was relieved, and my youthful giddiness renewed. We started our tempo run and cringed (well actually I think I laughed) when we got to 1k in 4:30. Oh wow. Several of the snow angels began to sign off at 3-4k, while Nic and I continued trudging along to complete a full loop. At one point, one arm of our path was masked by a field of uncleared, fresh, three-foot deep snow. Apparently I was the only one who recognized it as our route as Nic continued along the alternate arm without hesitation. ‘Ummm where are you going?’ I asked her quizzically. She quickly swerved left and joined me on the uncleared route. I began to mutter something about wanting snow shoes or a treadmill and she exclaimed ‘This is perfect! You never know what can happen in a marathon!’. At this point I had to turn my head and really question her sanity. Don’t get me wrong, I know that dealing with unanticipated circumstances can have benefits you are not immediately aware of; however, I had trouble accepting that wading through piles of heavy snow could somehow occur on race day in a spring marathon, nevermind even in something slightly more tangible like a cross-country race. Being void of an intelligent answer to her comment, I instead burst into hysterical laughter. She followed suit (either because she realized she made no sense, or is in fact actually crazy) and soon we were both in hysterics, causing our brisk 4:10s to slow to an even more pathetic pace. We finished the loop in good spirits, however, and were happy to get in a harder effort on such a miserable day for running.

I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to try and run uphill with my feet slipping under me on my cooldown and instead could enjoy the downhill home. I was clearly too complacent in my thoughts as five minutes into our jog I slipped on the road and went flying onto my side, thankfully travelling far enough on the snow to reach the sidewalk by the time I came to a standstill (sitstill?). I was shocked and confused when Val helped me up and kindly brushed me off, however, as this was contrary to past circumstance met with my one-and-only nemesis, Megan Lynch. I am sure that if Megan were there I may have met my demise, possibly by being redirected into oncoming traffic mid-air. So thank you Val!

My week was capped off with a 90-minute ballet class, led by a flamboyant ex-dancer who nonchalantly dropped one-liners of his past pas-de-deux with Celia Franca and close exchanges with Karen Kain, all the while laughing and flipping his delicate hands back and forth. He is a great and very well-liked instructor and the other dancers seemed equally welcoming, so I was thrilled with my first class. Although my balance and flexibility was definitely suffering, I was surprised by how quickly the movements came back to me. By the end of the class, my fluidity and technique was already much improved from my first shaky plie. I can’t say I wasn’t sore on Sunday, but I’m hoping it will get better each week.

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