March 30, 2009

Hitting the Dirt

I was a bit in a rush on Friday. After spending my first hours of the day writing and rewriting as usual I wanted to do my training before meeting an artist for an interview.

My speed session was 5 repeats of 1km. The goal my coach has set me was 3:39. To do this session properly requires focus instead of a mind thinking about other things. I also did this session on a stretch where I have run many times before but never for speed.

The road has a few uneven parts with plenty of potholes. But it's the closest flat 1k stretch and that's why I chose it for that session.

Unfortunately my lack of focus coupled with some bad luck had me trip over an uneven part of the road. I lost my balance and hit the dirt pretty hard. With scrapes on the palms of my hands and on both my knees my speed session was over before I even had finished my first repeat.

Upset, I limped to the car and drove home. Aside from the issue of getting the dirt from the wounds, it seems I've been relatively lucky. And I even made it to the interview, albeit in shorts and with a bloody knee.

I decided to forgo my Saturday training as well. But yesterday I was able to complete my fourth 3-hour training run, and the easy 30-minute session in the afternoon. I'm happy this has happened with plenty of time to heal before the Vancouver Marathon, and reminded me that I need to pay attention - especially in speed sessions.

March 16, 2009

Third 3-Hour Training Run

Yesterday I did my third three-hour training run in as many weeks.

Unusually I had company during the first 50 minutes as Tim ran with me. He has been sick and so had to run easy. That meant I started my run easier than I usually do - and it probably was a good thing.

It was nice to run together at an easy pace and chat. When Tim turned around I put on my iPod and settled in for the remaining 2 hours and 10 minutes. I was about five minutes behind on my usual pace and that was OK. Long runs are all about time on your feet, rather than about speed.

Because of that relatively easy pace for the first 90 minutes I had plenty of energy. I suspected that I'd run a bit quicker on the way home, so I turned around at 92 minutes (two minutes extra on my way out should mean I'd arrive at home in 3 hours and 4 minutes if I ran the same course back at the same pace).

I'd already picked up my pace slightly and was really enjoying my run, especially with the knowledge that I was on the home stretch - even if that was still more than 80 minutes away.

Then ... I spotted a runner ahead of me. The runner was too far away to determine whether it was a he or a she or even what direction the person was running. And even though long runs are not about speed, I couldn't help myself - I sped up.

I felt the need to try to get closer. And it seemed like I was but the runner was still far away until the runner slowed to a walk, and then stopped for a break by the side of the road. So I was chasing a guy. Because of his stop, I'd gotten a lot closer when he resumed his run. And all I could think about now was passing him.

I was still running at a reasonably comfortable pace, but faster than before. I was slowly reeling him in - it wasn't so much about catching him per se, as it was a mental way for me to focus. This is exactly what I - and probably most runners - do in races. Focusing on catching the person in front of you - while running at a realistic pace - is such a great way to concentrate.

Focusing on finding the happy medium between catching him and making sure I wasn't running too fast for my long run speed was a great way to occupy my mind. When I passed him, we exchanged greetings, and I checked my watch again I'd been running for 117 minutes.

And soon I found myself at the point where it would take me 35 minutes to run home - except I'd actually picked up my pace that I had a little over 40 minutes of running left to do. My mental games of catching the other runner had me run a lot faster and I expected to pay for it now.

By now, I'd relaxed my pace a bit and to my surprise I actually felt great. I had to do an extra loop near my house to ensure I'd run for the full three hours. That means I ran the second half of my session at least 5 minutes faster than the first.

It was only in the final five minutes of my run that my muscles started protesting, and on any 3-hour run that seems negligible. So I finished this long run on a great high. I now have an easy week, with reduced volume and without speed sessions.

Next Sunday's long run is only two hours - what a treat. And then I can't wait to do my two remaining three-hour training sessions. I'm starting to get pretty excited about the Vancouver Marathon.

March 12, 2009

Book: I Run Therefore I am ... Nuts

I Run Therefore I am ... Nuts!: Why we carbo load, fartlek train, hit the wall ... and love every minute of it by Bob Schwartz

This book had been sitting in our library since the day Tim and I combined our respective collections about eight years ago. This book was his.

Over the years I've often looked at it. But somehow always skipped it - a bit weird since I love reading about running. Something about the nuts bit in the title irked me, like some people do when they describe themselves, 'Me? Oh yes I am craaaaazy!'

I always think if someone is weird in that funny way as the crazy wannabe's wish they were, I'll notice without them telling me so.

Finally two weeks ago I did pick this book and opened it up - mostly because I was so frustrated with my own efforts to complete a book. As I was struggling with an ever-evolving structure that didn't seem to work, I was studying the table of contents of completed and published books.

I run Therefore I am ... Nuts! has 47 chapters, divided over 10 parts. Reading these titles, I became interested.

Part II is titled Racing - The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Da Feet. It starts with Chapter 6 Runner Mutation: Just pin that race number on the meek runner and let the personality transformation begin

I liked that, especially since it also reminded me of the transformation that triathletes make as soon as they are in their black wetsuits. The rubber will turn the nicest people into fierce competitors who will pull you under water unless they swim over top of you while `accidentally' bashing you in the head while they're at it. Yet, stripped of these floating power suits they'd probably share their last caffeine gel with you.

Back to Schwartz's book. After reading through the table of contents, I realized that I might have judged this book unfairly and started reading. I do most of my reading before I go to sleep and over the next few days I dozed off laughing out loud as I worked my way to Schwartz's brilliant book.

I cannot believe this gem sat in my library unread for eight years. Tim hadn't read it either, as the book had been a gift and somehow it never appealed to him either. I've since convinced him he should read it, or rather the parts that I haven't read to him already.

This is truly a brilliant book, extremely well-written by someone who not only loves to run but clearly knows a lot about it. My apologies Bob for not getting to it earlier - but as I've discovered that was clearly my own loss.

March 03, 2009

Ambassador for NYC-based SBR

Congratulations! You have been selected as a member of the SBR Worldwide Ambassador Team!

We received over one hundred applications from so many amazing athletes of all ages, abilities and nationalities. After reading through each and every application, we are confident that we selected a solid team of men and women to represent SBR Multisports and the worldwide triathlon community.

The Worldwide Ambassador Team is comprised of athletes ranging from 22-66 years, and 26 different locations around the world.