The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the tag “Marathon Training”

Dressing in the Dark

I awake just before dawn. I am quiet, careful not to wake anyone. I sneak over to the corner, where my clothes lie in a heap and get dressed without making a sound. I do not risk turning on a light. As if on eggshells, I go down the stairs and head into the kitchen for a quick bite to eat. There are dirty dishes and glasses on the counter, reminding me of the fun from the night before. I creep out to my car and drive away. Another morning where I am able to slip away unnoticed.

Does this sound familiar? It has been my Saturday routine since February. I get up early, attempting to be quiet so not to wake JB or the kids, and sneak out for a long run. Sometimes I run right from the house, sometimes I meet friends. Every time I look forward to the cool air entering my lungs, the sweat running down my back and the blueberry pancakes upon my my return home.

I love the weekend long slow distance (LSD) run. But, friends, I am tired. I took solace in this last LSD run before my second marathon event of 2013. For the next two weeks I will be in taper mode, taking it easy on the mileage and allowing my body to heal a bit before heading out to Berlin, Germany, for my last marathon of the year. Two weeks to hold this body together. Two weeks to mend whatever is bothering my left foot. Two weeks to get ready for the trip. Two weeks figure out a better answer to “why are you running the marathon in Berlin?” (Right now the answer is “why not?”)

I plan to take a little break from running after returning from my trip. New opportunities are approaching on the horizon and I am excited to take them on. Two more weeks..


Running and the Law of Averages

It was bound to happen. After logging about 55 kilometers last week and feeling unstoppable, I had a face plant. Partly, I blame Eminem. Here’s the story.

Today I had 9.5km to run as part of the training program, as noted on my calendar. We have been having absolutely gorgeous weather and I have been enjoying all the running in the Calgary sun. This afternoon was going to be great. How could it not? Training has been going so well!

Its the Law of Averages. Every training period has a couple of crap runs and today it was my turn. I dressed, opened the front door and noticed right away that the sunny day had turned cloudy with a cool breeze. I changed my shirt. Opening the front door a second time and taking a deep breath, I headed out. As I completed the first hill, Eminem’s “Eight Mile” came on my run mix. This song usually gets me going but today I clung to the line about the vomit on his sweatshirt, (I think that’s the line anyway). I spent the next 6-7 kilometers concentrating on avoiding vomiting on someone’s front yard. I don’t know what happened. I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. Also, my legs were tightening up. Coming into the last bit of the run the nauseousness subsided. Then, something else. I started to pass gas like a grandma getting out of a rocking chair. Oh, crap. I started to think fast.. who do I know on this route that would not think it strange for me to ring their doorbell and ask to use their bathroom? And then would not be completely grossed out? I decided to turn my thoughts to my breathing.

Feeling better, I turned for home. I noticed that I was going to be a bit shy of the required distance for the day so thought about where to do a dipsy-doodle (technical running term) to make up some kilometers. Fuelled by the theme from Rocky (yes, its in my run mix, don’t judge) and a new energy in my legs, I turned away from home to complete the mileage.

So here I am, relieved to share a story about a run that was not great. It was not fast, nor pretty, but it is done. Law of Averages demands that I kick some ass tomorrow. Here’s hoping anyway.

Mindset Shift

I picked my races for 2013.  This year I have done the Virtual Half Goofy Challenge, read about it <HERE> and will do Mother’s Day 5k – May 12, Color Me RAD 5k – June 29, Run Wild Missoula Marathon – July 14 and BMW Berlin Marathon – September 29.  And who knows?  Depending on the how my legs and spirit hold up, there may be room for another here and there.

The two biggies are the marathons in July and September.  I wrote out the training plan on the calendar a month or so ago, noting that I need to begin training this week in order to be ready for the marathon in Missoula on July 14.  Writing out the training is always terrifying.  When I sign up for a race I am excited about the place I will run, the gear I will need (shopping!!), the goal time for the race, all the fun stuff that goes along long distance running.  Then, I write it all down on the calendar, starting with race day and working my way backwards with mileage and hill runs and speedwork, usually 16 – 20 weeks prior to the race is the start of training.  You see, race day is exciting and full of adrenaline.  It’s the 4 months prior to race day on your first run where your commitment counts.  It’s the hill workout 10 weeks prior to race day where your endurance is tested.  It’s the speedwork 5 weeks before race day where your resolve will be tested.  It’s the peak mileage week just before the taper where you will wonder, why am I doing this again?  By the time race day arrives, you’ve passed all the tests and just need to run.

I run all year to keep in shape and stay sane, but when training starts, my mindset shifts.  Today was “Mindset Shift Day”.  The first run of training was on the calendar.  It was a beautiful day, warm, sunny and I would have run anyway because, like the hills calling Maria in The Sound of Music, the trails were beckoning me to come outside.  As I started out, the whole thing felt different.  Prior to today I would run through my neighborhood on a nice day because I wanted to or was meeting friends, with no particular goal in mind with regard to pace or distance.  Today training started.  Today its is prescribed.  Today, instead of thinking, “what a beautiful day, I would like to go for a run”, my thoughts are “I will run today, it says so right here on my calendar.”  And I thought about my pace, breathing, feelings in my legs.

The loop that I ran will be the base for my training over the next few months.  I incorporated a new part of the neighborhood trail to mix things up.  I noticed the condos that were just a pit in the ground last year at this time are almost complete and ready for people to move in.  I noticed how many people were out walking their dogs.  I love that it is lighter out later into the evening, as I don’t feel so rushed to get the run done during the day.

The first training run was a success.  My legs feel great and I am ready to take on the year.  Mindset has switched to training.  Let’s run!

Something’s missing…

By this time in the spring, or for at least the last three, I am in throes of marathon training.  The last two years I have been on way to an obnoxious number of miles on the Saturday before Easter.  I would get up at dawn, dress, eat, get my running list playing, text my running buddy and slide out the door.

I could do the run in my sleep.  In fact, if I close my eyes and I can still picture all the mileage.  Run north on Comanche, turn east and pass North High School, run around Lowell Elementary, turn left on Madison.  There is a church on Madison that had a “tomb” and two Roman soldiers standing guard starting Good Friday until (I imagine, anyway) Easter morning.  At this point in my run, still in a good mood and really just getting started, I would see these soldiers.  As I approached, they would stand.  Being a Christian on Easter weekend and feeling feisty starting on my long run, I called out.

“He Is Risen!”  I raised my arms to the sky and flashed a huge smile of thankfulness.  As an aside, I love Easter.  The whole idea of the holiday and unconditional love and forgiveness and all that gets me a little choked up.  But I digress.

I expected, and wanted, a response mirroring my proclamation. “Yeah, that’s tomorrow”, is what I received, as if they were fraternity brothers coming home from a rough night.  WHAT? I carried on with the run, a bit confused.  Turning down Moreland I could help but giggle at the silliness of it.

When meeting my friend Mike at the Glacial Drumlin Trail, as I did many a Saturday, I told him about the encounter with the Roman soldiers and we had a good laugh.  As a fellow runner, church goer and generally good person he would run outrageous distances with me for fun while I trained.  I also think that he enjoyed my suffering, as he is a stronger runner than I, but that’s not important now.

Saturdays used to be my long run mornings because of church commitments on Sunday.  This spring my long runs have changed to Sunday mornings for group runs with the (apparently godless) Canadians.  Today, the day before Easter, I had short run in the crisp morning sun.  But something was missing.  As I passed a small church in the neighborhood, I was reminded of the previous years and the Roman soldiers.  I was thinking that if Mike were here we would most likely be discussing legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage, the recent election in Wisconsin, church, our spouses and kids, goings on at work and do a little singing in the later miles. I was thinking that I missed those Roman Soldiers this Saturday.

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