Today was long run day for me. More importantly I was scheduled for a 23k run, the longest run for me to date. I went into the run nervous but fairly confident. There really would be no reason for me not to be able to do this, I have, after all, run 5 half marathons, all with half decent times.
I had to start my long run after 9 a.m. which of course meant I would be running until close to midday. Not ideal for this runner who regularly wilts in the sun. Just my luck, it was a perfectly clear morning with a high U.V. For 12k all was good. From 12k to 16k I was a little tired and hot but not doing badly. But after 16k it fell apart. I had been in the sun for too long and I no longer had the drive to push myself. Essentially I felt myself quit. I am not a quitter but today I feel like I was. I did complete the 23k, but by the end I was doing more walking than running. My pace was a staggeringly slow 6:35 by the time I was done. I have gone from running half marathons, no walk breaks, with sub 5:50 paces. How can I now be this slow??? I know I am now taking walk breaks every three km to mimic water stations and breaks for the marathon. But really? 6:35? I don’t mind 6:35 and feeling good. But this was 6:35 and feeling like I wanted to fall down and cry. Oh, and did I mention I actually turned my watch off for five minutes to allow myself to stand under the shade of a tree?
I can make a million excuses for why this was an awful run, most notably a bit of heat exhaustion. But ultimately you have a job to do and you just have to get it done. While technically I got it done, it just doesn’t feel that way. I feel like I bailed and just didn’t have the mental strength to push myself past physical weakness, kind of a double whammy for a runner. I know good runs will come again, and I have to remind myself that I really enjoyed the first half of the run. But in the end…what a disappointment.
Things you say in labour:
1. “Let’s get this done!”
2. “This hurts a little, but I am prepared.”
3. “This hurts like hell.”
4. “What the hell was I thinking???”
5. “Whose idea was this???”
6. “I think I want to die.”
7. “Why is that lady smiling? Oh, she has had drugs…I want to be that lady.”
Things you say after labour:
1. “I am exhausted, relieved and so proud!”
2. “That wasn’t too bad, I can do it again.”
Things you say when running hills:
ALL OF THE ABOVE (except # 7. The lady you see while running is smiling because she is running DOWN the hill and has no intention of going back UP even once, much less repeatedly. You still want to be that lady.)
We all know running is hard. It is a mental sport as much as it is a physical one. Making yourself get out there for training run after training run can drain the best of us. Having a few tough runs is enough to make you think you should just stick to Dr. Who marathons on Space Channel rather than actually try to run a marathon. I had some tough runs this week, but they weren’t bad runs. I finally got my weekly mileage back up over 40k and I am proud of getting myself out there when I could have stayed home and enjoyed the peace and quiet while my kids were busy at a half day camp.
The run that will stick with me this week was my 10k tempo. The day before I had done 19k, the day before that I had done a fairly fast 6k. My legs were tired, but I finished the 10k in a reasonable time and without hurting. What I will remember most is actually the end of the run. I finished in Fitzroy Provincial Park at the beach. I had the water to myself and was able to wade into the cool waters of the Ottawa River. The sky was perfectly blue, the air was clear and the temperature perfect. It was that elusive perfect summer day that we all dream of when winter wears out its welcome. All I could think of was how lucky I was to be able to run and to be able to enjoy such a gift of a day. My Yin Yoga instructor always says, “Honour Your Body.” She repeats it often to remind everyone to listen to their bodies and do what is comfortable without thinking about what everyone else can do. But as I stood in the river the phrase meant even more to me. It meant honour your body by keeping it healthy, by keeping it fit, by being surrounded by nature and appreciating her beauty, by being thankful for your health, by being thankful that you have the opportunity to challenge yourself and to push your limits, not because you have to but because you want to. Honour the gift that you have been given and never take it for granted. It is easy when running, oh so easy, to forget to honour your body and be thankful. My new goal – try to take a moment in each run to remember these thoughts.
I have known since I started running that a triathlon is not in my future. The reasons are simple; I don’t swim and I don’t bike. I certainly did as a kid, but for some reason they just weren’t activities I went back to as an adult. When it comes to swimming, well it just is never going to happen. I don’t like being in the water, I don’t like being wet and I am completely incapable of getting from point A to point B using any kind of stroke. I can think of a million things, some not pleasant, that I would choose to do before I would go for a swim.
This year, however, I plan to bike again. With two boys I have realized that it is probably no longer an option. So I got my dad’s extra bike and was ready to take the plunge. Really, how hard can it be to ride a bike? You never forget, right? Suddenly I started envisioning myself doing duathlons. I looked up local races and found out that there were sprint duathlons. The two runs were easy distances and the cycling portion ranged from 20 to 30 km. I can run 21k, so surely I can ride a bike at least that distance. Now, I am not totally unrealistic. I admitted to myself that if there was anything mildly resembling a hill I would probably be in trouble. But I could picture myself on a nice flat course, flying along thinking how nice it is to not be pounding the pavement.
So tonight I headed out with the boys, ready to coast around on my “new” bike. It was only when I got on the bike that I remembered gears. I realized that the pedals were spinning far too easily, I don’t even know if that is a high gear or a low gear. Slight panic settled in as I realized I have no memory as to what to do to change gears smoothly. Pedal, don’t pedal? Speed up, slow down? Use the gears on the left or the right handel? Apparently whatever I did was wrong. I only made it halfway down our driveway before the chain came off. In my defense, our driveway is over 400m long. Mind you, I don’t think I can even say I biked 200m since our driveway starts on a downhill slope. Really I was just coasting and trying to not wipe out on the gravel. When I stopped and looked to see if I could fix the chain I was swarmed by mosquitoes. I of course had not put any bug spray on. Why would I when I would be out-racing the bugs while enjoying my relaxing bike ride? So for a 200m “ride”, I ended up with a bike with a loose chain, about a dozen bug bites and a bruise on the back of my leg from managing to jam the pedal into the back of my calf while walking the bike back up the driveway. I am pretty sure I announced loudly at least once while the kids were out of earshot that I hate bike riding.
I’d like to say the kids had more fun. I sent them to the end of the driveway to go for a ride back and forth on the straight section of our rural road while I took the bike back to the house. At some point my youngest fell off, scraped his knee on the gravel and ended up getting a car ride back to the house from our neighbour who passed by. Maybe we should all stick to running.
So, I trained through an entire Ottawa winter and rarely had to miss a run due to weather. I did all my training outdoors and never even considered going somewhere to use a treadmill. I figured out how to layer for -25 degrees and I knew which streets had the least amount of wind. I also knew which roads were well cleared of snow so I could have reasonably good traction. I actually enjoyed my winter training.
Now it is summer and the weather keeps interfering with my runs. While Ottawa ranks as one of the world’s coldest national capitals, it can also have some pretty remarkable heat waves. I haven’t run for two days due to heat and storm warnings. Right now it is 34 degrees Celsius and our storm watch has turned into a tornado watch. I have realized that a major disadvantage of running in the evenings is that that is when the storms roll through. If I was a morning runner it would be hot but at least I wouldn’t have to be watching for lightning strikes. Right now there is the distinct possibility that I will be very short on my total km’s this week. Between today and tomorrow I have a 16k run and a 10k run to do. The 16k run is already two days behind schedule. I keep telling myself at least we are early in the training schedule, thankfully it is only week 5 for marathon training. But still, it is getting hard to stay motivated in this weather and of course that is when all the negative thinking kicks in – all of which can be summed up with the question of, “Why exactly did I sign up for a marathon???” I know the motivation will come back, but that doesn’t make these low points in training any easier 🙁
It is hot here in Ottawa. Really, really hot. This is not running weather, I don’t care how much of a heat person you are. This is a problem when you have a training schedule to follow. So it leaves very early morning runs or late evening runs. For me, an early morning run would mean around 5:00 or earlier so I could be back before my husband goes to work. This is not going to happen. Ever. I may love running, but I love sleeping more. So that leaves me with evening runs.
Tonight my plan was to head out once the temperature dropped below 30 degrees Celsius. That did not happen until after 8:30 and even then it only went down to 28. At that time of night there is no point in me running here at home. No matter how much reflective gear I put on I just don’t feel visible enough on our dark country roads. I also cannot run fast enough to escape the many, many bugs. So instead I headed to suburbia where the mosquitos are fewer and slower and where there are sidewalks under bright lights. My 10k tempo run finally started around 9:15. My route certainly wasn’t scenic; just up and down a major roadway. However, if I concentrated really hard I could almost feel the breeze from the cars whipping past at 80 km/h, so it wasn’t all bad. There certainly was no natural breeze to be found. In the end I finished the distance, a little slow for a tempo run but given the heat not too bad. And the fact is, 28 degrees with only the moon overhead feels much better than the same temperature in the sun.
My route took me past (several times) a fitness place and I could see all the people running on treadmills. I couldn’t help but question why they would be on a treadmill instead of pounding the pavement, but I guess a few of them were looking out wondering about the crazy lady running up and down the road. Mind you, about 8k into the run – and getting close to 10 p.m.- I glanced across the 6 lanes of March Rd. and noticed another woman running. Just when you think you may be taking this running thing too far, you find there is someone else just as crazy as you. You gotta love runners!
1. You don’t know the date but you do know what distance and pace is scheduled for the day.
2, After a run in heat and humidity you are completely comfortable walking into a store to buy a chocolate milk, knowing full well you stink of sweat. In fact, you grow to appreciate the extra space people seem to give you while waiting in line.
3, You can then drink the full 500 ml of chocolate milk in the seconds it takes to walk from the cashier to the exit.
4. You lie awake at night debating the pros and cons of 10 and ones vs. walking at water stations.
5. Your running shoes cost significantly more than the shoes you wear to work.
6. You own more running shoes than your children…combined
7. You know all of the hills within a 10 k radius of both your home and your workplace.
8. You own a stack of running bras, but only one half decent bra for work.
9. You have actually stopped to relieve yourself at the side of the road, managing to avoid passing cars and poisin ivy (for the guys who think this is easy…the logistics are a bit more complicated for women!).
10. And finally, you spend time blogging about running knowing that somebody out there will totally get what you are saying.