Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gone with the wind

I looked forward to my trip to Montreal very much. Being the staunchly proud ex-McGiller that I am, I jump at the chance to go back to my old stomping ground and relive the old days. This past weekend was no different – that is, if you call abstaining from martini consumption, 9:45pm bedtime and battling wind, cold and more wind for 21km equivalent to BYOWs, Peel Pub pitchers, table dancing at Buona Notte and 3am chow mein. Yes. My weekend in Montreal was not quite the bombastic experience I would usually have. (I think it was just the lack of Peel Pub? Where did that place go anyway?)

I made a series of mistakes this weekend that were horrible race prep and that I vow never to make again. #1: Uttering the words ‘The conditions [for the race] can’t POSSIBLY be worse than last year, that’s for SURE!’ to a co-worker as I was leaving work on Friday (to which he prophetically responded ‘Well it’s always possible!’). #2: Checking the weather obsessively all week (noting rainy and cold conditions projected for Sunday), memorizing the hourly forecast (that predicted 40km/h winds picking up at 10AM) and being so overcome with denial that I STILL didn’t believe the conditions would be bad. #3: Deciding that since the hammy felt good (and since I was overlord of the Weather Network), I would race it and try to dip under 1:20:00, such that 3:45/km was the only thing on my mind for the first half of the race (where I still had some ounce of hope that this might happen). These three things, my friends, made the harsh reality of le Banque Scotia 21k de Montreal that much worse. Oh my, sheperd’s pie.

I am wondering if I even need to describe the conditions. Before the appropriate adjectives even began to form in my head (during the race, all I could do was whimper pitifully or curse madly at Mother Nature) I received messages commenting on how awful they heard the conditions were. Apparently I didn’t need to explain my 1:22 to anyone. Fine by me – after the race all I wanted to do was wipe it from my mind and never think about it again (and curl up in a ball in the corner of Starbucks and double fist a grande pike place and a hot chocolate with whipped cream…which I may have done afterwards…MAY).

Pre-race dins at Weinstein

I felt good going into the race. My hammy was a little sore on Friday but I knew it was because I had had 10 straight days of running and was just feeling a little fatigued. After a day off Saturday, I felt fresh and ready to rock. This feeling was dampened when I walked straight into the door at Weinstein & Gavino’s, causing extreme pain to radiate down my hip throughout dinner. Luckily, even though it is still painful to the touch, it doesn’t affect my running (the only indicator of a real injury). The next morning we got a bus to the race start and although it was raining, the wind didn’t seem so bad. Once I started my warm-up, however, I realized that it would be no joke. In fact, it would be a rather large annoyance that would proceed to ruin my entire race, and better yet my entire day. Awesome. Naturally I stuck to my race plan of going out in 3:45-3:50 and trying to stay with a pack so as to have people to duck behind during the windy bits (says the girl who sticks out of a pack like a giraffe). This pretty much fell apart instantaneously. In the first 5k my splits were anywhere from 3:38 to 4:03, making me appreciate the power of the windy parts and simultaneously wonder if the km markers were at all accurate. Things got strung out pretty quickly and of course I found myself loping behind a guy who must have been 5 foot 2 and weighed 90 pounds, as he did absolutely nothing to shield the wind. I gradually started to reel people in from there on out but never found a group of guys to stick with. I went through 10k in just over 38mins, and seeing that this was bang on 1:20:00 pace I knew that there was no way I was going to run my goal pace: the winds were only getting worse.

At about 11k, I began to fear for my life. We were running into a formidable headwind that must have been 80km/h (really, I have no idea what it was, but it was STRONG). I literally could not run in a straight line – not because I had cleverly stashed my emergency flask in my ‘fuel belt’ and was calling it a day (kind of wish I did that) – but because I apparently have the resisting strength of a leaf. I blame Kap ‘N K for not being at circuit training for the past four months. I could not, for the very literal LIFE OF ME, fight the Easternly gusts that pushed me toward the looming water of the basin. I imagined myself falling in and getting swept away by the stormy current, going backwards in time and having to get out and run the whole stretch all over again. When I finally did reach the other end of the basin (I think 3km took me 13 minutes and change. Nice.), I was nearly carried straight into the steel pipes of the bleachers by a sudden change in wind direction. Just in case I wasn’t completely demoralized already, Mother Nature just had to remind me once more of the power she had over my little body. I had had enough. I thought things would improve from 15k to the finish, but it was on-again, off-again heavy winds up until my very last slow kilometre.

I ended up finishing in 1:22:11 and was 9th overall (7th Canadian). I was loosely aiming to be in the top 10, so I’m happy with how I finished. I was also happy that I was able to push myself quite hard without feeling glumy in either of my legs (just gloom in my heart). Jebs and Mama K battled it out like true Angels finishing 17th and 21st, respectively.

Happy to be done!

I ended up getting in 21 miles for the day and have recovered surprisingly well. I felt no soreness or fatigue later that day or Monday, and had a chipper 13-miler on Monday. On Thursday I am scheduled for 8x1k w/90s rest, followed by an ultra-long run on Saturday morning (23-24 miles). I’m hoping to get in 85-90 miles for the week as the following week I will be racing the Sporting Life 10k. I am hoping that for the first time in 6 months, I have a race void of snow, extraordinary wind and/or rain, though apparently that’s too much for G.I. Jane to ask these days!

Pleasant conditions for the cooldown (of course)

There is a post-race interview of me (below) courtesy of John LoFranco. He did a great job with all the interviews and I encourage you all to visit and check them out.


  1. Thanks Jane. Good job fighting it out there on Sunday. ps it's Lofranco (lower-case F).

  2. if it makes you feel any better, i get called coolis all the time...not sure why...