January 22, 2012

Sunday = long run plus couch

The memory that stands out most from preparing for my first marathon, the 1999 Ottawa Marathon, was that Sundays became days when you did a long run and then, especially in winter, happily spent the rest of the day on the couch reading, napping and refuelling.

That pretty much sums up today, too.

After putting the final touches on the financial column I write five days a week for New Zealand's BusinessDesk, I walked Luka and realized that it was wetter and colder than I thought. Rain turned into snow turned into rain as the temperature hovered around zero.

It helped me decide to wear a little more than I had planned - I changed into an ancient pair of MEC running pants (bought when I trained for that 1999 marathon in a Toronto winter) that are a touch too wide and a touch too short but otherwise perfect in wet, cold conditions like today's.

I also mapped out an out-and back route for 26K, keeping in mind that the sidewalks and smaller roads in town were still covered under a layer of wet snow. Tim would join me for the first 9K, so I marked his turnaround spot too, just in case Mr Garmin ran out of juice or would otherwise fail to cooperate in the weather (it worked perfectly fine, aside from missing the first 300 metres as it searched for GPS signals).

I was a little grumpy in the first 3K as my shoes got soaked along Westway Avenue already and we then had to negotiate a few icy parts to drop down from Hospital Hill to Loggers Lane on Scott Crescent, but after that both our speed and my mood picked up significantly.

Shortly before the Eagle Run, after 9K, Tim turned around and headed home. The 19K he ended up covering today was his longest run since finishing the Whistler 50 at the start of November, Tim's first ultra.

I had my first gel and kept going until Squamish Airport, which I reached after 13K. By then it was snowing beautifully, and I enjoyed the next 2K that sloped downhill. I picked up my pace as I aim to do progressively in my long runs.

Overall, I felt pretty good and I enjoyed being able to do the session outside. Before I knew it, I was heading up the hill to Valleycliffe, though this time I stayed along Highway 99, which has a wide, and clear, shoulder, to avoid the icy Scott Crescent.

As it turned out, I went a little long, reaching home with 26.74K on the Garmin in 2:19. Given that it took at least 300 metres before the GPS had picked up the signals at the start of the run, it's safe to say I ran at least 27K.

I couldn't help but think about having to run another 190K as Coquitlam's Lucy Ryan just did at the 135-mile (217K) Brazil 135. A big huge congratulations to this amazing athlete!

Lucy, who I met at the Haney to Harrison 100K in 2010, had never run farther than a half marathon in 2005. By now, she has finished a bunch of Ironman triathlons, Ultraman Canada—which consists of a 10K open water swim, a 421K bike ride, and an 84K run—and several ultras.

I can't wait to ask her if she considered the 135-miler as a 100K (of which she has done at least four) in that, "Running 100K gives you a 'day off' from regular life. It's like a vacation of the mind—no thoughts of finances, work, what the kids are up to, etcetera—just pure survival. How often do you get to do that?" as she says in A Hundred Reasons to Run 100km

As it is, I ran half the distance Lucy covered in 45 hours this week, a total of 110K, slightly short of the 114K I was meant to do but the difference was too small for me to add a second run this afternoon.  It was another solid week of training, and I am not going to obsess over 3 or 4K.

By the time I got home, happily soaked, Tim and Luka had already found their place on the couch, with a cup of tea and a book for the former. After a hot shower, I joined them with a big ham omelet on a couple of slices of bread, a cup of peppermint tea and two of the books I'm reading at the moment, Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas and How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer.

Sundays, especially in winter, are great.

Next week's program offers 120K.

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