Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014 into 2015

An early Christmas gift for me was discovering that one flood damaged bridge in Fish Creek Park had been re-opened. I deliriously ran across it for the first time in 19 months.
Quite a few missing trees now, but still a great path and a few Sunday options are back. 
I managed a great run that day, can feel a little strength returning. I have also worked out where there's a flaw in my technique. It's all in the left leg, not driving/ pushing through while excessively gripping with the toes. Change that habit, along with better toe-off for both feet, and 2015 should go better than 2014 ended. 
Before 2014 did end, there was the Christmas Day gift of running:
Finally, the Resolution Run 5k. Starting at 6pm on New Year's Eve, the finish line was also 2014's finish line. Cruising in at the finish, the clock said about 20:50, quicker than the 5k I did in October. The signs of recovery are there.
The end of the year had me dealing with and recovering from overtraining, and a lesson learned. Before that, I managed marathon and 5k PBs. On the whole, a positive year.
For 2015, the main race is my first ultra, the 50k at the Calgary Marathon weekend. It's time to get into training, eating and sleeping well, with the St Patrick's 5 k on the way to test my speed work. Lots to do, let's get to it!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

50 Shades of White

Is it 2015 yet? 2014 is ending with a touch of the weird. Late November had me wearing NASA surplus to plough through deep snow in -25.
Then, in a surreal turn, the snow starts melting. In December, there are now March problems such as melt-freeze, but with excellent traction otherwise. This time last year, I felt I needed to carry a shovel on my runs. 
Still, there's the long honed winter running habit: checking the ground ahead, analyzing the colour of the snow/ ice, the shade the piece of ground gets, recent weather, previous years' traction, etc. All within a split second to decide whether to slow down or not.
Core workouts are proving effective with the new program after I made a few changes, mostly by adding weights to few of the exercises. 
Is there a song called "Shorts In December"? I might some alt lyrics to "Gone Till November", though it'll be January by the time I get to it. 
My left calf/ achilles tightness is gradually fading, and I'm working my way into my training program for Studio 54 (50k in 4 hours on May 31, Calgary marathon weekend). 
I need to get out of a bad habit: I've noticed that my left toes are unnecessarily gripping - my foot seems upturned and not smoothly rolling. With that, I notice that the left leg seems also to plunk down and not pull me forward as the right does. Now I say "copy the right" (there's a political joke in there somewhere) to try to get it working properly, reduce the imbalance, and stop the mild soreness. 
Once there's snow and ice again however, back will come the "whatever keeps you upright" technique, so lots of thinking to do. Long way to go, but journey already started. I'll be running on Christmas Day, perhaps (hiccup) even a speed interval or 2. 
Merry Christmas to all runners, present and future :)

Friday, 28 November 2014

MEC 5k Race #8

7 weeks of 20k per week, all at easy pace to recover from overtraining and multiple minor injuries saw me line up for the last MEC race of the year. The start/ finish was at the base of hill which is towards the end of my previous race, the Harvest Half. 
The choices were 5, 10 or 15. 15 would've been a guaranteed PB, always a temptation. I went for the 5k, to give myself my first speed work since early October. Some icy patches and my general condition made me decide that sub-21 minutes would be a successful day. 
Rich was aiming to get his first sub-20. He knew not to wait around for me, I wouldn't be getting close to my 19:18 PB. 
What would we do without the wags? We would freeze, enjoy race day less, and have no-one to take pictures of us goofing around. 

I wore the gopro using the "chesty" mount. While there were plenty of screengrabs, I'll only race with the head mount in future. The camera swayed from side to side, making for a dizzying picture. Plus the straps gave me moobs.

Quick warm-up and race time.

First item of business was clearing the kids before the first corner.

I wore running tights for this race. I usually only wear them under track pants when it's super-cold. It was almost shorts weather, but perhaps my inner-extrovert wanted to make a statement with the tights. Not sure what exactly. "Look at my over-cooked chicken legs"? "I want to join the ballet"?

With me being very tentative over any patch of ice, Rich moved ahead.

Passing a couple of overly-quick kids, I saw I was in 4th. I have had many finishes in this position, either overall or AG. Running at a quicker pace than I had run in 2 months, I was upholding a tradition.

I felt quite flat before the turnaround, and decided to run at about half marathon effort rather than the usual breathless 5k effort.

This is all part of my route for every weekend long run, always a pleasure.

It was warm enough to take off my gloves with 1k left, cruising in my rather solitary 4th.

Rounding the final corner, I thought: "I'll throw my gloves in the air at the line." It seemed like an obvious celebration to the end of the season at the time. I came in at 20:58, so mission accomplished. 

The boy in grey, below right, finished in just over 30 minutes. An elite future?

Speaking of elites, Rich got 19:50 and "will never do a 5k again".

A good, though quiet race. The road to "Studio 54" starts here.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Welcome to Studio 54

Well This is Freezing
Winter appeared very quickly last weekend. Despite not liking it as much as notwinter, there's the pleasure of overcoming the conditions. 
..and then my teeth froze.
...and then my phone froze.
From my new plan's strength training session, there's an even bigger challenge: doing the above without arching my back. To me there's no such thing as a "bird dog", so it's a suitably impossible name. At the moment, I'm doing just the legs, with the eventual aim of doing the whole thing without toppling like a tree or having the silhouette of a drunken camel. 
It was the 25 the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall recently, a reminder to all, but especially perhaps runners, that all manner of barriers can be surmounted.
Remembrance Day is also our wedding anniversary. Here we are a few months back, in a serious attempt not to take ourselves too seriously. 

Next challenge
So this happened: 
Not having decided once and for all to do the marathon again for Calgary 2015, and having almost entered for 2014, when the Ultra 50k was offered once again I jumped at the chance. I then slipped on some ice after the jump. However, I get knocked down, and I get up again, 'cause you're never gonna keep me down. 
I did the Calgary Marathon this year in 3:15:44, at 4:38/ km pace. I feel that 50k in 4 hours - 4:52/ km - is realistic, yet also quite ambitious considering my problems with extra long distances. I thought "project 50-4" would be a good name, but then another title suggested itself:
Excited crowds gathered outside New York's venue in excited anticipation. 
This longest ever distance for me will bring me back to that first time experience and make running new again. Starting now, I will blend my way into my training program.