Thursday, April 29, 2010

TC 10k - Race Report

It has sure taken me a while to actually get around to putting my thoughts about this race in writing! I suppose this is mainly because I have been quite busy at work and the last thing I want to do at the end of a long day is sit back down in front of the computer, but also because I have very mixed emotions about the race.

Even though it was only 10k, I felt like I had a lot of ups and downs… and even though it was a PB for me, I still wasn’t thrilled with how I raced it. Does that even make sense? If not, let me try and explain :)

For some reason I was very anxious leading into the race. The last few days before it, I felt my nerves grow and grow and I didn’t quite know why. I think, while the distance doesn't scare me at all, I wasn't really sure what to expect from myself going full out for 10k. Anyway, I guess the nerves and anxiety were just pressure I was putting on myself to do well.

Early on in the week I had sort of thought I would be happy to finish around 52-53 minutes. Then, the day before the race (stupidly) I asked Kirsten what she expected to do time-wise and when she told me she planned to be sub 50' I started second guessing my game plan and thinking I should try and keep with her. Anyway, it’s easy enough to see now, but it is not a wise idea to start rethinking your game plan the day before the race in order to try and keep up with someone who has always been significantly faster on the run.

Anyway, with my new plan of “run as hard as I can with Kirsten until I just can’t go anymore” in place, I found myself toeing the line with the thousands of others on what turned out to be a beautiful Sunday morning. I stuck with Kirsten through the 1st km (at about 4:40 – bopping and weaving through people) and at about that time, I realized it was a pace I wasn't going to be able to hold the whole time and that I needed to find my own rhythm. Once I let her go (and watched her disappear into the masses), I settled into what felt like a pretty good pace and a nice rhythm and I was pretty happy with myself through the 5-6k mark. I had a minor mental meltdown in what could have been anywhere between the 5 and a half to 7k mark (I didn’t see any km markers between the 5 and the 8). Luckily I saw Kelly on the side of the road at this time and he offered some helpful words of advice as I “flew” by (and I use the word “flew” very very loosely – maybe “trudged” would be better). From there I tried to push any negative thoughts out of my mind and just focus on my form for the final 3k or so.

I ended up crossing the line in 50:53, which, as I mentioned earlier, is a personal best for me at this distance. I feel I should be happier about this achievement than I am which is weird. I suppose it’s just a slight disappointed in myself for going out too hard and trying to run Kirsten's race rather than my own (it's a mistake I've made before and unfortunately probably one I will make again) and knowing that if I had of started at my own pace and kept it, I may have still finished in a similar time, but that I would have felt better both physically and mentally throughout the race. Who knows for sure though?

At the end of the day, I suppose it’s a good lesson learned as I look ahead to the Shawnigan Half Iron at the end of May. I’m pretty sure Shawnigan is going to be an emotional race and I’m ready to let it just be my race – for better or for worse.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dance, Sing, Floss and Travel

The TC 10k is nearly upon us. I’ve run this race only once before, in 2008. I’m pretty confident I will be able to beat my time from that day two years ago, and while I know this race is just part of the training routine, is shorter than most of my long runs of late and is really just more of a personal test than anything else, I still find myself slightly nervous about how Sunday will go. I guess it’s the competitor in me. While I may never be at the front of the pack, jockeying with the top runners or setting a course record, I still want to get faster every time out. I still want to win my own little personal battle. Anyway, we’ll see how it goes I suppose.

All that said I have been enjoying a bit of a lighter training week leading into the 10k. The lighter volume has come at pretty much the perfect time as work has been non-stop, crazy-busy the last two weeks... almost overwhelmingly so (and, honestly, I very rarely get overwhelmed or stressed by work).

Anyway, when it’s busy at work, at least training offers a nice break and a nice routine to lose myself in. One notable workout of late (and my longest workout of the week) was a 4:45 bike on Sunday (following a decent sized swim). The bike was great - a complete turnaround from the last long ride I did. I was definitely more prepared for this mentally than my last long outing on the bike. There was no frustration, I consumed enough food and drink (although, maybe almost too much, as my guts were just rotten by the end of it and I couldn’t fathom the thought of another gel or sip of Gatorade) and I stayed [somewhat] focused the whole time. It was also Kirsten’s first outing on her fancy new bike... and while I do love my bike, I’m completely jealous of hers. It’s so shiny and new.

Other than that, I found myself reading the side of a Lululemon bag this week that was sitting on the floor of our bathroom while I was in the tub, and I was surprised by how great some of those little quotes/tips were. So, as dorky as it may be, a few of my favourites to end this post...

Drink FRESH water and as much water as you can. Water flushes unwanted toxins from your body and keeps your brain sharp. [I had to include this, as my friend Laura can attest, I’m constantly telling people to drink more water – it is the miracle cure-all in my books].

A daily hit of athletic-induced endorphins gives you the power to make better decisions, helps you be at peace with yourself, and offsets stress.

Do one thing a day that scares you.

Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks.

Your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself.

That which matters the most should never give way to that which matters the least.

Jealousy works the opposite way you want it to. [uh oh, does this mean I’m not getting a new bike anytime soon? haha]

The world is changing at such a rapid rate that waiting to implement changes will leave you 2 steps behind. DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW!

Breathe deeply and appreciate the moment. Living in the moment could be the meaning of life.

The conscious brain can only hold one thought at a time. Choose a positive thought.

Creativity is maximized when you’re living in the moment.

Dance, sing, floss and travel.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Up, Down and all Around

Wow, training sure can have a lot of ups and downs. I guess it’s like anything in life, some days are great, others, not so much.

For me, this week seemed like it was going to be a great one, coming out of a recovery period, highlighted by a fantastic run on Sunday – I was feeling positive.

Then Monday struck...
Since both Kirsten and I were off work, we headed out on what was supposed to be a 4hr 30min bike. We decided to explore the Shawnigan and Cowichan areas. The ride started great, seeing some new patches of road, climbing some decent hills and even avoiding the rain and hail and getting a little sunshine. However, about 2.5 to 3hrs in, my body decided it was done; both mentally and physically I had hit my limit. I think partially it was poor nutrition, and I also think I was slightly underprepared mentally as I hadn't expected to go for a longer ride that day. Unfortunately I let this get to me. Kirsten was great and kept me going, and I dragged myself the rest of the way home - clocking in around 4:10. I finished that day feeling disappointed and frustrated with myself.

Flash forward to Tuesday morning...
I didn't expect much out of myself (still beating myself up a bit about the previous day's ride), but took on the same "10x 100" workout I did back in February at the start of our last "speed" block in training. I pushed really hard through the whole workout and was pleasantly surprised to find that on average I was about 10 seconds faster per each 100! What a lift it was. It was just the thing to get my brain over a 'bad' workout and back on the positive track.

Mid week was neither super up nor super down...
Tuesday night consisted of a decent short run workout. Wednesday I fought with semi-dead legs on the bike but still felt like I put in a good effort, and then I managed to have a pretty good strength session. Thursday was a rough morning in the pool followed by a pretty great run in the evening. Friday I was treated to another day off. So, some up, and some down.

By Saturday things were looking up again as I set out on a shorter - more intense - bike. It felt really good to go out for this ride, put in a solid effort and finish feeling great.

Sunday had similar "up" results. I ran about 2:20 (a two loop route) at a fairly easy pace. At the start I was feeling a bit strange as I had part of the poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (more specifically the "into the valley of death" part) stuck in my head, which, let me tell you, is not the best thing to be repeating as you set out on a long run. However, this was interspersed with some crazy pop song about being bulletproof (better I would say – at least a little more upbeat). When I finally shook "the valley of the death" part and focused on the "bulletproof" part, things started to look up. I was able to maintain a steady pace throughout and finished off strong with 8x :30 steady state pickups. I won't say I finished feeling spectacular, but I felt pretty darn good all the same.

So, through all the ups and downs, it seems the week has come full circle.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sweet Relief

As I slowly sunk myself into the piping hot bath water on Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t help but feel it had been a long time coming. In reality, it hadn't really been that long since my last bath, but a nice hot soak on the weekend is something I always look forward to. It’s a bit of respite from the uninviting showers at the pool I suppose; some relief from the rushed preparation for work after an intense morning workout.

This weekend, it felt like it would never happen. Thursday night I thought about having a bath, but decided to wait until Friday thinking it would be that much better (since Friday I had the day off – not only from work, but also from training). However the massive wind storm that battered the island over Thursday night and all day Friday had a different idea. Our power was knocked out early Friday morning and unfortunately would not be restored until late Saturday... and unfortunately, since we are dependant on a well, no power = no water.

The week leading up to Sunday was a relatively relaxed one on the training front, in that it was a bit of a recovery week (and a much needed recovery week at that). Both mentally and physically I was in need of a break, so it really did come at a perfect time. Before this week, I was starting to feel this constant heavy sensation in my legs, the twinge of a lactic acid burn just walking up a flight of stairs. My mind kept telling me “just skip that one workout, no one will know” but I didn’t, I couldn’t. So yes, while there were still workouts to be done, the ‘recovery’ aspect of the week was welcomed with open arms.

Sunday, Kirsten and I met up with my good friend Laura for an easy 90’ run along Dallas Rd (we truly do live in such a beautiful area). Even with massive head winds (and the odd bit of tail wind too) the outing was simply fabulous - for me at least, I can't speak for the other two. I forgot how wonderful it feels to run on fresh legs (or, at least semi-fresh legs), and at the end of the 90 I felt like I could have kept going, I even felt like I probably could have picked up the pace. It was great!

So after waiting and waiting for the bath that felt like it would never come, Sunday afternoon, after the best run I’ve had in a while, I finally got that sweet relief. My time in the tub.