I have to say, I’ve been feeling pretty tapered the past few weeks. I’ve tried to explain to Nic the discrepancy I feel between my fitness and overall muscle and ligament strength, the former being far greater than the latter – I’m not sure she’s understood, until this week. I’ve been squatting, lunging, squeezing and resisting in order to minimize this difference and get my body strong enough to withstand the torture I’d like to pound into it on the roads. That, as well as develop some sexy, rockin’ buns-o-steel. I feel a lot stronger but still somewhat impeded in workouts, in fear that if I push too hard, something will give. My easy runs have creeped down to the 4:30 range because my legs feel so fresh. I constantly want to throw in some tempo on off-days but am reminded by the simple twinge of a hamstring that this is a bad idea. Oh, the frustration.
On Thursday I went to practice feeling my usual tapered, jumpy self. I ran up to the cemetery and clocked one of my km’s at 4:34. Easyyyy I told myself –save it for the workout! It was a big one: 3k/3x1k/2k. I figured since I was on the comeback that I’d only do 60-80% of the workout, however, so I wasn’t too concerned. I was in for a surprise. For the first interval, Nic prescribed a 3:50 pace for most (slightly faster than half-marathon pace) and told me to go along with everyone else. 200m into the interval, it was clear there was no way I was doing that. We started on 3:40 pace and went through 1k in 3:38-9. At this point Nic turned to me and said, ‘Oooh boy, you’re gonna feel that in a km or so!’ I shrugged it off and kept the pace going – I felt awesome and like I wasn’t working hard at all. We went through 2k in 7:17 and still I felt totally relaxed. So obviously then I decide to hammer the last k in 3:31, gap Nicole and cross the line (well really, it’s a garbage can) in 10:49. 5s PB on that loop. I apologized to Nic for disregarding her instructions and she giggled mischievously: “You DO know what the rest of the workout is, don’t you?! We’ll see how that goes!” ‘Bring it,’ I thought to myself. For the 3x1k, we decided to a med/tempo/med-hard effort. I felt strong on the first one and figured we’d go under 3:30 but surprised myself again when we went through in 3:23. The rest of the workout was 3:36/3:19 (tied for best time on that loop) and 7:04 – another loop PB for the 2k (but only by 1s). I have to say I was very pleased after the workout as it gave me confidence that my feeling of being fit wasn’t all in my head, and that I haven’t lost anything in the past few weeks. If anything, I think my setback may have made me a little stronger.
Nic is convinced that the pool is contaminated with some kind of performance-enhancing drug. This would make sense if chlorine is an undiscovered wonder-chemical, since it is undoubtedly coarsing through my veins each day and causing me to go into periodic sneezing fits. People at my work think I either have horrible allergies, a terrible cold that lasts for weeks on end, or am severely depressed because of my permanent watery eyes. How do I explain that it is actually self-induced torture cause by my excessive pool time each day, totalling to about 8 or 9 hours a week? And do I stop when I am plagued by allergic reactions or eye infiltrations caused by serious chlorine overdose? Of course not! At least, though, I can say that it may be paying off.
My hammies still aren't 100% and I look forward to the day where I can run and race on two good legs. Imagine that. For the time being, I am hoping that my fitness continues to progress with all my cross-training and relative decrease in mileage and that one day - ONE DAY, all pain goes AWAY! I still intend on tempo-ing Montreal next weekend, and I'm looking forward to it!