Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Week 14 complete & 15 begins: the sun, the rain, the lows, the highs...the inspiration!

Where the heck is the sunny weather that graced us just last week? My fingers are still cold from tonight's speed training at the SMU track and a run home in rain and zero degree weather! But I felt pretty strong as I made my way around the track for two sets of four laps, averaging around 5:09-5:14/km, which isn't bad for a four-hour time goal, I'm told.

We are now into week 15 and race day is 24 days away! Little butterflies are starting to hatch from their cocoons and flutter in my belly when I think about running down Yonge Street along with thousands of runners...Eep!

Anyways, last week kinda went down like this:

In an effort to get some last-minute leg strength training in, I decided to do leg exercises at the gym prior to an hour-long Body Pump class. I felt ok, except that...

...On Tuesday I set out for my tempo run late after chatting with Wendy and Carol at the Running Room. Most of the group had already almost completed their 6k tempo as I started around the Commons, and I noticed my pace slowing and my legs struggling to keep up with a pace almost a minute slower than the previous week's tempo. I definitely wasn't coasting along like a running goddess. In fact, I was struggling at even 4k. So after my second lap around, I decided to head back to the Running Room -- a little deflated and worried, I will admit, especially after the difficult time I'd had with Sunday's long run.

Feeling a little stressed about how tough I'd been finding the runs, I emailed Bruce, our clinic leader (and manager of the Running Room on Spring Garden Road), and asked him for any advice. He was amazing and answered within a couple hours, saying that often times, difficulties in performance can be linked to iron deficiencies, especially in women. Which makes sense for me, as I've been diagnosed as being slightly anemic.

Bruce also suggested that I might be overdoing it -- that often we feel like we have to do all kinds of cross-training in order to be strong, but that with only four weeks away, I might want to cut back on the lower body strength training and just focus on having a strong core and upper body. His was advice was to take it easy for a couple days and put my legs up.

So I did.

After work, we got together with some fellow runners to see our friends Wendy and Greg off for their Boston Marathon. We were so excited for them! We promised to watch their progress on Monday and send them all kinds of positive energy so they'd coast through the course. I love being part of a strong running community -- there is so much inspiration and support to draw on!

Bruce was there among us and I really appreciated him making a point of coming by and checking in with how I was feeling. He also made me feel a little better by admitting that he hadn't finished his hills the previous day, since he'd been feeling a little under the weather. "You're just going through a rough patch," he said. And I believed him.

Coming home that night, I told my husband I'd love to qualify for Boston one day. "I don't know which of you to believe," he joked -- referring to the fact that only a few days ago I'd been ready to quit running, and now I wanted to qualify for one of the largest marathons in North America!

"My heart wants to run, but sometimes my body doesn't listen," I said by way of explanation. I've never hidden that running is such a love/hate thing for me!

I opted for Zumba instead of a long run. I love Zumba -- one of my favourite cross-training cardio activities!

In the morning, I stopped in at the Running Room and pick up some gels for Sunday's long run. I'd been debating hopping on the bike for half an hour or so, just to keep the impact off my legs, but then I decided to head out and see how I'd feel on a 6k run. My Garmin had died, but I didn't worry because I'd read Jon's blog only the day before about how he'd forced himself to run without a watch for a few runs and just enjoy the run instead of focusing on getting the last few 100 metres in or stay on pace. It was kind of refreshing, I must say.

The run itself was ok...Not great but not horrible. My left achilles tendon was a little tight, and when I stopped I had some weird throbbing ache in my right hamstring, but I worked that out with an hour and a half of Ashtanga yoga with Andrea and her sister Diana, and I felt so much better afterwards!

Another great thing that happened on Saturday -- I found out that my friend Jen was inspired by my blog to start running again! I'm so proud of her for starting again, because I myself know how intimidating starting to run again can feel, if you've been away from it for even a few months. And I'm so glad I've been able to inspire someone as others have inspired me.

Saturday night, my husband cooked me my favourite pre-race/long run meal: Gordon Ramsay's Pancetta Spaghetti. He gave me a great pep talk, encouraged me to get a good night's sleep and just get 'er done in the morning, even though the Weather Network was calling for rain. I felt encouraged by his support, and went to bed to try and get a few hours of shut-eye.

Morning broke windy but not raining, although it was grey. I hadn't slept overly well, but I slept more than I usually do. Part of me really just wanted to stay in bed, but I knew that after Steve spending an hour and a bit cooking me my pre-run meal (after he'd had a long day at work) and giving me my pep talk, there was no backing out of this 29k run.

So I ate my oatmeal and half an apple, pulled on my gear, and headed out the door to drive downtown to the Running Room. Carol was there and had volunteered to be our pace group leader, since Wendy was in Boston enjoying a buffet with all of the Canadian runners before Marathon Monday!

We headed out, and actually had to pull back on our pace a bit since we were keeping pace with the four-hour group as we ran down Quinpool and turned right onto Connaught. I was a little worried that I hadn't dressed warmly enough, but since it hadn't started raining yet, I felt ok after about 10 minutes or so.

It's amazing what a difference running with friends makes when you're on a long run. Pretty soon we'd reached the start of Rails to Trails, and as we made our way along (with me trying to identify the songbirds in the bushes -- I spotted an American Goldfinch singing his heart out at the top of a trees and heard a few chickadees warbling away), we started picking up the pace. And then we were in Bayers Lake and at the Coke plant at kilometre 11.5. The wind was pushing us up the gradual incline, but didn't feel too strong on our backs. I was looking forward to running back downhill for the next 5k or so.

Or so I thought. Just as we turned around and started heading back into the city, the wind started driving rain into our faces. Cold. Wet. Drizzle. In fact it was so cold I started worrying I might have to flag down a cab at Bayers Lake before we headed back onto the trail. But I carrried on, knowing that if I stopped, I wouldn't want to start that run again.
Instead, I picked up the pace. I just wanted to get out of that weather, so I just put my head down and started pumping my legs a little more. The pasta dinner from the night before seemed to be doing its job, because I felt pretty strong.

Soon enough, Barry neared me and we started keeping pace with each other. We barely spoke until we reached the end of the trail -- we both just wanted to get it over with (he was wearing shorts and his legs were fairly cold -- nobody had expected this weather). Remembering that I'd once mentioned having Raynaud's syndrome, Barry kindly lent me his gloves, saying he didn't need them. Thank goodness -- he was a life saver!

As we got off the trail and could feel ourselves getting nearer the store, we started chatting again about vacation plans, work, whatever -- just shooting the breeze and making the time pass more easily by having someone to talk at.

When we reached the store, I decided to do the last 6k of my run on the treadmill. I just couldn't imagine going back outside for another 30 to 40 minutes. And after I finished those last kms, I still felt pretty good! Yay!

Marathon Monday! Woo! Andrea, Carol and I spent much of the day glued to our computers, watching Wendy and Greg's progress on the athlete tracker for the Boston Marathon. I also watched the #bostonmarathon feed, and was fascinated. In fact I'd have to say this was the first time I'd ever been so fully engaged in a sporting event in my life! Watching the play by play of the men's and women's races was just so exciting, and inspiring!

As we watched our friends' progress, we could see from their paces that they were just out there to have a good time and enjoy the experience. And what an experience it must have been! The Twitterverse was just buzzing with #bostonmarathon fever (at least among the runners)! I stand by what I said last week -- I'd love to be able to qualify for Boston one day. But now that the BQ has been made more aggressive, I'm not sure if that's achievable. Who knows!

Watching the buzz around Boston, I learned two things:
1) that even the pros have bad days. Kim Smith's interview after she had to bow out of the race when she had led it for almost half the course was especially heart-wrenching, but also reassuring;

2) that there is a difference between "racing" and "running" a marathon. And if you do the latter, you're more likely to have a fantastic time! Wendy and Greg's experience has inspired me to try and just run the GoodLife Marathon -- enjoy the course (dowhill most of the way, baby!) and the crowds, and soak in the experience. Here's hoping my type A personality will let me do it!

Finished the day with Body Pump but no leg weight training, hoping I wouldn't overdo it like last week. But...

...As it was another grey rainy day, and I'd had enough rain and cold with Sunday's run, I opted for Zumba. I did ok up until 45 mins in, then started to feel really really weak...I could tell my core and abductors/adductors just weren't recovered from Sunday's run yet (I just couldn't shimmy my hips like I usually can :P ). Maybe I should have eaten more before the run (I was hungry most of the day) or maybe I should have actually taken a rest day after a 29k run! I'm planning to just take it easy next Monday after Sunday's 32k.

But whereas a few weeks ago I might have beaten myself up for feeling tired after a workout, I opted to just see it as "a day" and move on to the next day. Just a day.

And race day is 24 days away! Woohoo!


  1. Way to stick with it! Lots of training & amazing job! :)

  2. Thanks runnergirl training :)