Saturday, May 14, 2011
Downhill from here
I am sitting at home, staring out into the grey, misty, wet streets on this lovely Saturday evening. *Sigh* the beauty that is Toronto! Tomorrow morning I'll be running the Goodlife Toronto half-marathon - the same race I ran in the fall and clocked a painstaking 1:19:00.00. Ideally I'd like to go under 1:19:00, so I'm hoping the weather gods cooperate with me and hold off on torrential rain - ESPECIALLY winds. I am so scarred from the winds in Montreal I'm not sure I'll be able to cope with a headwind anymore - should I be blown to the side of Yonge street, I fear I would subsequently crawl under a bench and cry pitifully until I was saved. Oh how soft I am becoming!
The past few weeks have been quite heavy but have left me feeling strong and prepared for Ottawa. The week of Sporting Life was 88 miles; any other week I am sure I would have tacked on another 2 miles to appease the OCD in me, but I felt absolutely dreadful in the days leading up to the race and was thankful just to get through that morning and end the week. The Saturday previous I did my longest run so far (40km), in which I ran SO fast that I was stopped by the cops. Uh-huh. I followed that with an up-tempo 30k run on Tuesday in a torrential downpour of a morning. I wasn't intending on making it a tempo run, until I was partway through and couldn't stand being out in the cold and wet for so long, so did two loops of the cemetery (13k) starting at 4:20/km and bringing it down to 4:02/km. I felt great the rest of the day, so being the smart little starlet that I am, I decided to go for another run of about 9km and follow that up with 30min of strength work. Beautiful. On Wednesday I went to supervise the Ninja group and my legs felt so tired I didn't think I'd make the jog up the hill to the cemetery. I contemplated stopping for walk breaks and tried to justify the legitimacy of 10-and-1s...on a warm-up. The stop-and-go-running that night did nothing to help my aching quads and on Thursday I felt just as bad. I cut the workout short, hoping and praying that I'd feel about a thousand times better for the race on Sunday. Yep, as you all know, this did not happen, and I woke up on Sunday with tired and heavy legs and a sore IT band.
Executing a perfect push-up during circuits. Kap 'N K would be proud!
Who knew Brecher was a high jumper?
I knew SL would be a tough race from the start but I still wanted to dip under 36:00 if I could. The gun went off, and as usual everyone was off like bullets, running their first kilometer about 30s faster than they would the entire rest of the race. So although I thought I was going out relatively hard, I wasn't surprised to see about a hundred people fly by me, including several small children and some hefty teenagers. When we got to the 1k marker, however, I was shocked to see a 3:35 on my watch - 2s SLOWER than my goal race pace! At that moment I really began to worry. Perhaps these people around me really were going out at the appropriate pace, and I was just running horribly slowly. What worried me more is that my legs didn't feel fresh at all, so I knew my pace was more likely to get slower than faster. Images of myself returning to my 40:00 10k days began to flash through my head; I convinced myself that I was suddenly anemic and overtrained, and I contemplated dropping out. However, I got to 2km in just over 7 minutes, which appeased my sense of anxiety and despair somewhat, but I knew I was going to have to push pretty hard in order to come close to 36:00.
Looking much more calm than I felt!
I kept trucking along, gradually reeling the start-gun-sprinters in and gaining more strength and confidence as I went. At around 10:30 on my watch, I looked for a 3km mark but there was nothing in sight. I feared that I was slowing down so I kept pushing harder - again looking around at 14:00-14:30 and seeing no indication of how far I had run. I told myself to relax and forget about the km markers, just run as hard as I could. Turns out most of the km markers were either hidden or not put up, so I had no idea of my pace the entire run. I just kept convincing myself that I was running 36:30 pace and that I had to go harder. At about 7km (I remember the turn from last year) I started to hurt pretty badly but saw a few women in front of me. I made it my mission to hunt them down and maintain what speed I had going. Luckily, they were slowing down so I was able to pass them within the next few minutes, which was encouraging. I tried to maintain an effortless appearance as I 'sailed by' them but this was severely compromised by my wobbling legs that kept buckling underneath me. Images of myself collapsing to the ground before the finish line was even in sight began to haunt my thoughts - how embarassing that would be! Could I pretend I misjudged the distance and thought we were almost done? Would I make pitiful excuses to the concerned medics that would flock around me?...like that I did a long run on TUESDAY? Tuesday, for heaven's sake! Who can't recover in five days? What kind of runner was I? That was no G.I. Jane way to act! Suddenly, in the midst of my self-depricating rant of a monologue, I saw an unfamiliar object in the distance - could it be? No! Impossible! Was it really a kilometer marker? My heart went from racing to thumping and jumping. I looked at my watch: 32:25. 9km. Crap. My heart thumped into a pit. This was not good. I had to run a 3:34 in order to break 36:00. The way my legs were burning, I couldn't fathom doing this. Still, I didn't let up. If I ran a 3:40 I could still tie my PB. I pushed with everything I had and let all proper running etiquette fly out the window; I let the snot run from my nose, the wheezing be heard from my burning lungs, and I allowed my legs to overstride like there was no tomorrow. I imagined Nic behind me, cursing at me to increase my turnover and stop overstriding so terribly: 'That's NOT how you run fast!' I cursed her back: 'It's the only way it's going to happen today dammit!' Once again, my crackbrained thoughts were interrupted by the sudden appearance of the finishing straightaway. Tears of joy came to my eyes, which soon turned into bubbly sobs as I saw the clock read 35:10. I was less than 200m away, and finally knew that a sub-36:00 would be mine. The only kilometer marker I saw must have been off! I crossed the line 17s under and wobbled over to the sidelines, rudely dismissing the girl offering me a bottle of water so that I could lean on the fence and gasp for my life. Oh wow.
Perhaps a better reflection of how I felt
Luckily, after this experience, I had it easy until Thursday. Still, I really didn't start to feel better until...Thursday. I had a decent workout (2k/4x1k) and almost managed to break my 1k PB (a sad 3:18 on our loop), but almost puked up curried tofu along the way. NEVER, and I mean NEVER, eat spicy tofu the night before an important workout. My stomach was in turmoil the entire day. On Saturday, Katie (a.k.a. Stewie...don't ask), Nic and I ran a 3:20 marathon. Yep, wasn't quite the plan, but of course when we plan a 40k easy run, we can't just meet our goals, we MUST surpass them! I was intending on running about 3:20 to hit 40k, but we were running quite a bit faster than the prescribed 5:00/km and covered at least 42k if not 43k in the process. I think Nic is permanently hurt from this ridiculous run, but I actually felt ok the next few days and so did the full workout on Monday, which consisted of 2 sets of (2x800m w/90s rest, 4x400m w/60s rest), then 2x800m. I wasn't expecting a lot going into the workout but it turned out to be a solid effort, with all but one 800 in 2:40 or under and 400s in 78-79. It actually felt good to do some quicker stuff for once! Of course, now going into the Goodlife half, my insanity has once again caught up with me and my legs have been suffering since Wednesday. That being said, I do feel better than I did before SL, so I am hoping for a solid run - and hopefully a PB - in the morning! After all, it's all downhill from here - tomorrow - and until Ottawa!