If you’re here looking for a typical style race report, you’re going to be disappointed. The things that I think are important to talk about from this race have nothing to do with the race. In case you’re here looking for insight on what running Seek the Peak is like: do it, it was fun, pace the grind, and do a pre race-day run of the fourth leg so you know what you’re up against. Also, if you’re like me and don’t really like doing the Grind, do it at least once before so you know how the quarter markers work and get used to passing tons and tons of hikers having religious moments (it’s not a closed course for the race). Also also, running up Nancy Greene Way totally sucks ass, but then in a strange sort of balance, not running up a hill would totally suck ass too.
But other than running parts of the course a few times I was pretty unprepared for this race. Kinda like Tom’s race at Mt. Sutton. In my case, I just hadn’t had the energy to think about it. I use a co-op car service and I hadn’t even booked my car for race day until about 10pm the night before. I picked up my race packet literally as they were closing up for the night.
No energy, no thinking, no planning. Work life was getting insanely busy, and while I tried to push back by not working a ton of extra hours it just drove up the intensity of the 10 or so hours I was working. Go to a meeting, come back, answer a question, start sending an email, get interrupted by a question, go to another meeting, repeat. By the time I got home I only had the mental energy to watch Borat reruns. At some point I did spend some time Googling about the effects of frequent task switching (hint: it’s exhausting)
Work hard; play hard. Right? I felt so wound up that I needed to really, really unwind on the weekends. And to unwind I needed to play outside. A lot.
The weekend before Seek the Peak I ran from a beach by my place downtown, to the peak of Grouse. And back. That was supposed to have been a recovery week.
The day after Seek the Peak, I ran the first half of the Knee Knacker course with some friends (and added even more to the ton of respect I had already had for people racing that).
Get stressed at work, go for a huge run, get more stressed, go for a huger run. Tom readily pointed out to me (and I already knew it), but the body can’t tell the difference between work stress and stress imposed from work outs. So by adding more run intensity to combat work intensity it was like I was adding twice the running intensity.
It didn’t take long for this to spiral into a problem. I started noticing that my heart rate didn’t want to wake up in the morning, I could easily run along and not be able to raise it much above 130 — which I wanted to believe was my awesome fitness. But my pace was not awesome. The culprit was my legs, I just couldn’t move them. They were beyond tired.
The culmination was the week after Seek the Peak. I tried mixing things up. On the Friday I thought it might help to do a run commute, I’d get a bit more time to sleep and split the work over two runs. I was planning on doing a 10km route back home, but at about 6km in I just couldn’t. My legs were so drained, I just didn’t even want to run. After a full day of sitting down, all I wanted to do was sit down. I took the Saturday off and went to some nice trails on Sunday — same thing. I just couldn’t even run and it turned into more of a hike.
It made me so angry. Tom had suggested taking the whole weekend off, and while that would’ve been smarter I couldn’t swallow it. What’s the point in working so hard all week if it makes me too tired to play? Obviously work wasn’t actually making my legs tired, but the spiral of trying to balance out the stress was. Koyaanisqatsi.
Two full days off and then a very light week and I was feeling good again. And once we made our new release, things started calming down a bit at work too.
Life gets in the way and balance is important. Sometimes it’s tough to remember that there’s more going on for your body than just going for runs. And just because you dealt with a mountain of work doesn’t mean your body’s ready to run over a few of it’s own.