Well, so far this week has been a bit of a mystery.
On Saturday night, I ate pizza to store up on carbs, knowing that I would be running a looong run in the morning. I tried to get to bed early, and catch some zs -- always a hard feat for me the night before a long run, since my mind just seems to race ahead of me in anticipation. So I caught about 5 hours of shut-eye, which for me is not bad.
In the morning, I took my time getting ready, ate a bowl of oatmeal and a half cup of tea. To be honest, for some reason I was dreading the run even though I'd done 27k the weekend before, so I took my time even more. I gave myself just enough time to get to the Running Room and head for one more loo break, then we were on our way.
The first part of the run went pretty well, though I must admit I was having trouble catching my breath and falling into the groove as Andrea and I chatted about the previous day's Ashtanga yoga class. Part of me wondered if I'd overdone it, because in addition to that hour and a half class that had me sweating buckets, I'd also thrown in a 10k before it -- my week had gotten a little messed up when I missed a run on Tuesday. Regardless -- I was about to find out if I had indeed overdone it, the day before a 29k run.
At around 7k, we made it to the Rails to Trails, which is remarkably close to my house and yet I never knew it was there! One more option for running routes close to our house! We started our way along the trail, and I noticed I was dropping back, and back, and back. I was worried about my IT and hamstring too, because I've been having trouble with them lately (an injury that actually stopped me from running for two months last year).
Part of the trail passes by streets and houses, but then there's a big chunk of it that's literally in the middle of nowhere for about 5k. It's pretty, but I didn't want to end up stranded in the middle of nowhere if I couldn't keep up with the group, and I also didn't want them to feel like they had to slow down for me, since they were keeping up a pretty good pace.
So I turned around and headed back to the streets of Halifax for another 16k or so. And that's when the going started getting tough. For the next 11k, I had a really difficult run, physically (I was running at around 7:20 for a while there) and mentally. I started asking myself whether I could do a full marathon again if I was finding this so tough and I wasn't even at the 20k mark yet. Did even I want to do it? The feeling on the run on Sunday reminded me of the angst of my first marathon -- not a fun feeling at all. So why was I doing this if I found it so agonizing? Was I perhaps just more suited to shorter runs? Etc, etc, etc.
Signs of spring are everywhere in the city now, and did help to keep me going through the physical and mental strain. So I pushed on, at a very slow pace, knowing that if I didn't get this 29k in today, I would regret it. I made it back to the Running Room at around 24k (by then my Garmin had died. I must remember to charge it on Saturday nights!). The fast runners of our group had already made it back and were stretching. Boy, are they fast!
I went to the loo, again (well we are out there for more than a few hours), then headed back out for my last 5k. Since my Garmin wasn't working, I approximated my route. As I was heading up Bell Road, the rest of the group I'd peeled away from was heading in. Given that I had taken a couple of bathroom breaks (and one break to text Wendy to let her know I was fine), I estimated that they were probably around 2 or 3k ahead of me, pace-wise.
I ended up doing around 6k, so all told I did 30k. And truth be told, although mentally I was a little messy, physically I wasn't too bad. After stretching for a few minutes, I went to Pete's Frootique for a Blue Moon (blueberry smoothie -- lots of antioxidants and so a good recovery drink, says Bruce). Standing at the counter, I dialed our home number.
"I think I want to quit running," I said to my husband. But he wouldn't hear any more of my negative talk, saying it wasn't good for me. Basically holding up a big red stop sign in front of the negativity train I had been riding for the last three and a half to four hours.
Paying for my smoothie, I headed back to the car and drove home. As soon as I got in, Steve was there, and told me to hurry up, because he was going to take me out for lunch to celebrate my run. God I love my husband for that -- he knows me so well, and he knew right away that if he didn't take me out, I'd just go upstairs, have a bath, and wallow in pity and self-doubt.
Instead, we went to Duffy's for lunch and I had a pretty good steak sandwich and fries. Then over to the Hart & Thistle for a few pints and some laughs with Greg. At around 6pm though I was dying. My legs were stiff but not sore. Mostly I was just dead tired. We drove home, stopping at Cold Stone Creamery for some ice cream (I'd just burned about 1,700 calories so I figured I could indulge in some comfort food. And boy is their ice cream yummy! So creamy!). At home, I changed into my jammies and then tucked in for a night of live-tweeting the Junos for work.
A perfect end to a difficult run.
Now what's the mystery behind all that, you wonder? We all have bad days, right? I know.
Here's the thing: yesterday, you would have thought that I'd be in some form of pain or discomfort, or that my legs would be feeling stiff. But you know what? I felt pretty good. So I decided to get some strength training in after work. My plan was to do Body Attack before Body Pump, to get a couple of hours of cross-training in.
Bear in mind, I've never taken Body Attack before. I didn't even know what it was, but the "attack" part of it made me think it involved some kind of punching or something.
Body Attack burns more calories than any other LesMills class, the instructor told us. Then she put on her mike, turned on the music, and we started stepping...and hopping...and jogging...And we jogged in circles. We jogged front and back. We did jumping jacks...And we didn't stop for a full hour...
But you know what? I didn't feel bad at all. I kept up with the whole class, and chose the level three or four high intensity option wherever I could. And despite being sweaty, I wasn't winded. Or at least nothing that I couldn't handle on a tempo run.
Coming out of that class was a realization that I am in pretty darned good shape, if I do say so myself. My confidence level was boosted again. I opted not to do the Body Pump, because technically Monday was supposed to be a rest day and I'd just finished Les Mills's hardest class (according to the instructor) when all I'd wanted was some strength training.
So you know what? Running remains a mystery to me. Some days, you have good days, others, bad. And other days when you think you'd have no energy, all of a sudden you feel like a superstar. The important thing is to find the positive in the pain, like spotting some crocuses blooming beside the sidewalk, or thinking of all the friends and family who have believed in you when you doubted yourself.
I owe so much of my perseverance to my husband and running friends who have pushed me on when the going got tough. Thank you. I won't be quitting running anytime soon, and my goal to run the GoodLife full in Toronto in May still stands.
Here's to a new day!