Since I’ve declared myself fit-for-running after the calf injury that robbed me of most of February’s runs I’ve taken a much more holistic approach to the running parts of training. For starters I’ve mixed things up a lot more, swapping my recovery runs for cross-training. But I’ve also adjusted my key runs to be “up to” whatever my plan called for. Up to 19km, with up to 11km at tempo. I must must must listen to my body, especially the known problem areas. The idea is if every thing’s feeling fine, then game-on, but the minute my calf starts whining again it’s time to Shut. It. Down.
I thought this had been going pretty well, but I wasn’t entirely sure. And truth be told, I was wee bit concerned with the endurance in my legs. It had been a while since I had done a long run over 24km so although it felt a bit early in the back-to-running-again plan I decided I would use today to do my first (up-to) 32km of this marathon build-up. With the focus on quality work and other, shorter, races in the lead up to BMO I only had one other weekend with a 32km run planned.
So today’s run was more important as a confidence builder than a generic long-run. I recognized this and took full advantage of it, practicing my morning race routine (including watching Rocky — everyone does this right?), and using it as a dry-run for my BMO nutrition and hydration plan. I even bought the Powerbar brand gels that they’ll be handing out on the race.
I don’t usually run with planned out routes, I just run around whatever trails I feel like in Stanley Park and watch the kilometers tick off on my GPS. It’s not that big of a park though, so 32km had me going all over the place. Repeatedly.
I started off easy but was holding a decent pace and feeling good. At about 12km I stopped watching my heart rate and just let myself run, doing what my body wanted. The whole point was to finish this 32km without it being a religious experience, hopefully I could do that without having to account for every heart beat.
Long runs are long though. At one point, coming up the hill towards the top of Prospect Point, I caught myself thinking “Man! I’m feeling really good, I’m going to kick the shit out of this!” Then, with perfect comedic timing, my watch beeped telling me I was only 16km in — exactly halfway.
I planned on gels at every 45-minutes. 0:45, 1:30, 2:15 — this means I would’ve had the same gels on this run as I would have for a 3:00 marathon. I think I’m going to switch that to 2 x 45-minutes, and then 30-minutes. So today and BMO would be 0:45, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30. I don’t have much history having problems eating on the run, in fact once I start feeling tired I really look forward to it — which is why I want to change to every 30-minutes at the end. Even if the calories and caffeine aren’t going to accomplish anything in that last half hour they make me feel better. At one point this morning I think I had my entire third gel package in my mouth as I tried to suck out every last drop.
Anyway, once I started pushing through feeling tired I decided I would finish with the last chunk of the seawall — the same last few kilometers I would be suffering through at the end of BMO. I do most of my hard work on that stretch of the sea wall for that reason.
I estimated that if I took Avison Trail down to the seawall it would be about 7 or 8 km to home. So I ran around in circles in the park and got to the top of Avison at about 26km. I knew I was holding a decent effort, but with all the hills in the park it’s extremely hard to know how that translates into a reliable pace. This was my other motivation for hitting the seawall — OK, I’m exhausted but feel like I can cruise along, what’s my cruising speed right now?
I was pretty shocked to see I was cruising around 4:27/km pace. It wasn’t hard, I was just doing it and pushing through being tired, but not actually really working hard. It’s difficult to describe.
Anyway, as I’m coming around in to Coal Harbour I’m feeling really good. I must’ve looked like a bag of shit by then, and I was actually hurting in various places and pretty much only holding on because I knew I was running the most direct route to my home, but mentally I was really happy with the way my morning had gone.
I should mention that it was an absolutely beautiful day today. The sort of day where everyone goes out to the seawall. It’s also only 5 or so weeks until the Sun Run. The Sun Run is big, their website boasts “Only 50,000 spots available“. And in the months leading up to it all sorts of people that aren’t normally running start training for it. A lot of them do this in groups led by some designated sun run trainer. You’ll see them running around town in packs of any where from 5-50 people and there are, well, thousands of them out there. It’s kind of neat, but it’s also kind of a weird sight. Many of them also don’t look like they’re enjoying a moment of the experience. So you’ll see 20 people out for a 7km jog with hydration belts and the look on their faces makes you think they’re doing a forced march.
As I was inwardly feeling great and rounding into Coal Harbour I came across such a pack. They were running 3 abreast and maybe 10 or 12 deep. Normally I would hop up into the bike lane and speed up a bit to pass such a huge group, but the bike lane was busy. So I just decided to squeeze between them and the on coming foot traffic. I should have probably said “Excuse me” or “On your left” or something polite and Canadian, but words seemed like difficult things to form at that point on the run. And there were so many of them, I would’ve had to keep saying it!
So I just started running past this pod of Sun Runners. After the first or second row of them I passed a much older looking gentleman who looked like he sort of was enjoying being out there. I guessed he was their Sun Run leader or whatever. After another row of people I hear the salty old feller yell out “R-R-Real Runner on the Left!!!“. Then all the Sun Runners obediently squeezed over to the right, and turned to watch me zip past them.
33km with a very strong finish. You’re God Damned Right I Am.