Monday, June 8, 2015

Back TO the S(u)P(e)R Angels

The amazing SPR Angels post tempo run.
Last week I made a trip back to TO to visit friends and enjoy some downtime in one of my favourite cities. I had a wonderful time filled with food, drinks, friends and – of course – running. The highlight was definitely working out with my old training group, the SPR Angels, for the first time in years.

Now if this visit was 6 weeks earlier I am fairly certain that the highlight would have nothing to do with running. It probably would have centered around eating and drinking and then drinking some more. And if I had attempted to do a workout with these fast ladies I would have been left in the dust gasping for air. But with a month of iron in me and renewed energy, I was motivated to give it a shot.
Excellent martini consumption came a close second to great running.

Brunching at French restaurants is my third favourite passtime.
I met them for a workout at 7am Thursday morning, just as I used to every week 4 years earlier. It was one of Nicole’s ‘surprise’ workouts that she likes to throw in now and again to keep things sexy and unpredictable. The night before she promised me it was going to be easy, which I knew was a complete lie, but I decided to show up regardless. After fumbling my way through drills (if I have learnt one thing about anemia, is that it is not the cause of general clumsiness and lack of coordination. Dammit!), Nicole scanned our faces with contemplative, beatty eyes. I am sure she still didn’t know what workout she was going to give us. After a minute, she exclaimed: 1k slingshot, 1k smooth, 2x500m, 2k! Let’s go!

The 1k ‘slingshot’ consists of everyone running single file and whoever is at the back sprinting up to the front, followed by the next person at the back, and so on, such that you are only running fast for a few hundred meters of the entire repeat. I was happy I found it fairly easy to get to the front of the pack, until everyone pointed out that for every 3 steps they had to take I took one. Point taken! Next came the 1k ‘smooth’. Nicole told me to stick with Clair because she was a good pacer who was planning to run 3:45. I don’t remember the last time I ran 3:45. We set out and I just followed Clair’s lead. It didn’t feel too bad, but I can’t say it felt easy. We crossed the line and I was surprised to see a 3:36 on my watch. Actually decently close to times I would run on that loop in workouts many years earlier! I went on to complete the workout at 3:25-30 pace for the 500s and the 2k in 7:32. Nothing for the record books, but by far the best workout I’ve had in years.

I recovered surprisingly well after Thursday’s workout so decided to join them on their tempo run on Saturday morning. Nicole was adamant that we not go faster than 4:00/km and for no longer than 5k. So of course we did 6.5k in 25:48 (3:58/km average). Ooops! Once again I was surprised by the pace given that we were chatting away most of the time. Could this be iron-clad evidence that my health is ironing itself out?!

This workout rounded out a solid week of training: 75 miles, two workouts, and 3 strength training sessions. Not only was the mileage solid but it felt fantastic to run on Canadian soil, where trails are actually made of soil and people say 'Hello!' and 'Good morning!' instead of yelling at you for what seems like the simple act of running down a street. In Ottawa they even go a step further, WAVING at you (with their whole hand and not just their middle fingers!). Oh Canada how I miss thee! Despite this, I am looking forward to joining a group in NYC, though nothing will replace the SuPeR ladies, who are nothing but what their name suggests.

Beautiful TO.