Sunday, April 3, 2011

Week 12 complete, and 13 begins: Marathons are also about the chocolate-banana smoothies and ice baths!

Well, last week was tough, there's no denying it. But as I was discussing with a fellow runner on Twitter, usually a tough run is followed by a great run. And that's what happened this week. After my awesome Body Attack class on Monday, which was supposed to have been a rest day, I didn't know quite how I'd be feeling on Tuesday. But after Bruce's quick chat on perceived effort vs heart rate monitoring, we headed out for our 6k tempo run. And it was a great run.

To keep things easy route-wise, Bruce made us do laps around the Commons. I thought I was going to stick with the 4:15 group, given the attacking that my body had done the previous day. As we came up Bell Road and along Ahern, turning left onto the sidewalk next to the Commons, I started to pick up the pace. We were supposed to be running at around a 5:50/5:55 pace, but pretty soon, I was catching up to the 4hr group. Looking down at my Garmin, I saw that I'd picked up to around 5:06 in order to catch up with them.

I let myself slow down to around 5:24 and drafted along behind the 4hr group, feeling pretty good. My breathing was a little heavier, but I was just enjoying the feeling of speed, and of the strength in my legs. At around 5k, my calves and shins were cramping a tiny bit so I held off a tad. I find that usually helps burn off the latic acid and lets my muscles recover and loosen up a bit.

Anyways, we were supposed to do threre laps around the Commons and head back, but by lap three, I saw Andrea and Bruce standing at the Five Corners. I guess I forgot how to count that day, because when Bruce told me we were supposed to do three laps and head back to the store, I got confused and thought I'd only done two. So back around the Commons I went.

By that time, I couldn't see the group ahead of me, and there was no one behind. Confused, I headed back to the store, only to see Wendy, Carol and Andrea stretching there, when I thought they had been behind me! In the end, I did 8k at around 5:30/km and it felt great.

Long story short, this run reminded me how much I love running short, fast (relative to me) distances. I don't mind not being able to breathe for a few kms (5-10) if I know the finish line is nearby!

On Wednesday and Thursday, my husband and I headed in to the Valley for an early birthday mini-vacation. We had a great time sampling local beers, wine and food and watching the local bald eagles (did I mention I'm such a Lisa Simpson?), and it was nice to relax with him in the countryside for a few days -- we don't often get two days off together due to our different work schedules.

Friday, the weather was a typical Halifax spring day -- wind, rain, snow, ice pellets...I'd been running in a tank top and shorts only a few weeks ago, now this? I opted for Zumba instead, but for some reason I didn't quite feel like I had my A-game. So Saturday, rather than repeating my mistake of the previous week of doing too much (10k + Ashtanga), I just did Ashtanga. At this point in the training schedule, skipping out on a few runs isn't going to make or break my race. And I knew that if I was feeling tired, sometimes it's just best to take it easy and give my body a break.

Today, we ran 32k. And I conquered the MacDonald Bridge once again! I've never been a fan of running it, but today it was pretty cool - there must have been 50 or more runners heading over to Dartmouth from the Running Room, and I felt surrounded by our positive energy. We headed past the Mic Mac Mall, then under the highway to Shubie, around the Mic Mac Lake and back over the bridge. I kept my pace consistent with Wendy's at around 6:45-7:00. My legs felt a little sluggish, but I knew that today was just about getting the distance in.

After crossing back to Halifax, Wendy peeled off at  23k to head back to the store, and we continued through the outside loop at Point Pleasant Park. For some reason my Garmin decided to conk out at around 24k (I'd charged it the night before! Jonathan at the Running Room suggested doing a master reset, so I tried that after our run. I'm going to *need* it to last longer than 2 hours for my race, that's for sure!).

I was happy to have stuck it out with the group this week after a few weeks of runing the long runs on my own. I was reminded today that the thing I love about running with a group is that you get to meet some really interesting people. Today, I ended up running with Rachel, who is in our clinic. I had no idea, but she's running her marathon in the name of animal welfare, and raising funds for that cause. I hope to be able to profile her in a future Runner in Profile spot.

Since most of the group is running their race the week after me, they were doing 29k today but I was supposed to do 32. We stopped at South and South Park, and then I walked with them to the Running Room for a quick bathroom break and some water. Then I left everyone to their stretching while I finished my last 3k -- amazing how much better I was feeling after a little break, but at 32k, I'd had enough. But I was done! Next Sunday, I'll taper back to a nice comfortable 23k, followed by 29, 32, 16 and then...42!!!

After my run, I headed to Starbie's for a chocolate banana smoothie, praying they had bananas -- it's one of my favourite post-long run recovery drinks, and I can literally feel it working only minutes after drinking it. My legs were starting to cramp up. Then home, for an ice bath, followed by a soak with some Epsom salts. Phew!

I'm still not 100% sure about the benefits of an ice bath for recovery, but most serious runners swear by them. See this article published in Running Times Magazine a few years ago. Says @Love4GambiaErin, "Am 100% pro ice-bath.  Feels like relief.  Important tip: hoody, hat and latte required." I have to agree: when you're sitting in cold (or ice-cold) water up to your legs, a jacket and hat definitely helps dull the cold in the rest of your body!

I'm looking forward to profiling Erin soon in an upcoming Runner in Profile spot. Stay tuned!

Happy running, and healthy recovery,


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