Sunday, February 21, 2010

A run worth writing about. Get comfortable, this is a long one.

Maybe it was the 2 weeks of taper/recovery and the deep desire (and dare I say need) to run. Maybe it was the week long binge of watching the Olympics and being inspired daily by the phenomenal athletes of the world. Maybe it was all the couch time while watching said Olymics and the roots that were beginning to grow from my butt. Maybe it was the glorious sunshine and above (yes ABOVE) zero temperatures we had today. Or the smell of spring in the air and the swarms of people that emerged from their winter caves to celebrate the promise of an end to hibernation by walking, running, skating and sledding in the warmth of the long absent sunshine. Maybe it was none of these or all of these. Whatever it was or wasn't that contributed to my experience of running today, I am grateful.

Because today, my blogland friends, was one of those days.
You know, the reallyreallyreallyreallysuperradicallyawesome kind? Yup, one of those.

Buuuuut, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a bit.

So, last Monday I ran the Frozen Ass 50km (in case you forgot), and a few minutes hours after completing it, true to form, my dear husband asked me "So babe, what's next?" Despite the urge to punch him in the face, I sat and thought about it for a few minutes. I had been totally focused on cramming for this 50k in the past 6 weeks, and my only thoughts were of getting in the miles, staying healthy, and getting to the finish line. But what I noticed during my long runs, and in fact during the 50k, was that I seemed to have a mental/physical block at the 30km mark. Meaning, I was all good until 30km and then things started to deteriorate at an alarming rate. I suppose it could be due to a lack of calories, but something told me it was beyond the mechanics and had roots deeper in my subconscious. 30km was the point at which I seemed to fall apart in my previous marathon training as well, and during my marathon races that is the point I started to fall off pace.

I know that training for an 80km, and then 125km, means that if I am falling apart at 30km, I am screwed. Even during the FA50 the last 20km were a serious sufferfest. So, I told him "What I really want to do in the coming weeks is break through this 30km limitation I seem to have and to really get comfortable with that distance (so I can find the next distance I fall apart at..haha)."

This week I ran a couple of short 5km jaunts and a 9km with D and the boys. I wanted to make sure I was recovered from the race, but my body (and mind) have felt great all week. If nothing else it has been a good excuse to sit on my duff. Yesterday I did a 90min ride with the crew and it hurt, but today I knew I wanted to go for a long run. I worked my butt off to get all my shit list jobs done on Saturday giving me the entire day to do with as I pleased (what a beautiful feeling that is!). This morning consisted of lattes with D, breakfast, and Olympics. I checked the weather and it was -17 with the promise of warming to -2. So, since I could, I waited. And had more lattes, more breakfast and more Olympics. I also filled up my new pink ipod shuffle (a Valentine from my sweetie) with some new music. At around noon the weather network announced it was -3 with a wind that made it feel like -9. Single digits was all I was looking for so I put on drastically fewer layers than I am used to and headed out. I had no set time or distance to run, I was just going to run as long as I felt good. I brought enough food and water for 2-2.5 hours thinking that would be sufficient.

As I started out, I didn't feel especially great, but the sun was out and that was wonderful. After a couple of kms I started to find my groove and things started to pick up. I ran down to the park and up around the college. Then I ran past the Pavilion and noticed the skating rink was super busy. I continued to the end of the trails and up past the dog park. This was about 11.5km, but I wasn't ready to turn around. I decided to head out to resource road and maybe head back that way. Once I reached that path (13km) I decided to head out towards Evergreen Park and maybe to another out and back.

Once I hit Evergreen Park I decided to turn down the correction line and make my way back to the dog park via the dump road (this all sounds so exotic eh?).  I hit the 21km mark at 1:58 which I noted since I remeber hitting it at 2:04 during the FA 50. And today my time included several waits at lights, shoe fixing and one quick pee break in the woods (too many lattes). Aaaand, I was feeling great. My perceived effort level was about a 5/10 meaning I was barely noticing that I was even running.

I got to the end of the dump road, took a pull off the camel back and realized I was out of water. Shoot. I tried calling D, but he was busy studying and his phone was off. Luckily I was pretty close to a Starbucks so I headed there to refill. This isn't the first time Starbucks has saved me! I used a cup to refill my camel back, but I was starting to feel a little spacey, like I could use some food. I had eaten my only fuel source at 16km (a granola bar) and the thought of another 12-15km with no food was distressing. I looked around the coffee shop but couldn't see anyone I knew to hit up to buy me a cookie (I had no money on me). As I scanned the room, my eyes fell on the coffee condiments bar.

Hmmm....sugar packets- that could work- but even better I spied the honey. Perfect! I dumped a big glop of honey into my cup, squirted in a shot of water from the camel back and began to slurp it up through a straw. It was like heaven in a cup. As I was licking the remaining honey from the straw I sensed eyes boring through the back of my head and turned see the entire coffee shop staring at me. Ooops.
I smiled, tossed my cup and straw in the garbage and headed out.

The honey was like jet fuel. Off I went heading back towards home. At one point I looked at my Garmin and I was running 13.6km/hr. But I felt like I was floating. I did pull the speed back again, thinking I might have a sugar crash to go along with this high, but it never came. I hit 30km in 2hrs 50 mins and from there it was a short 4kms home. I decided I needed to make it 35 so I lapped the block a couple of times, finishing my last km in just under 5 mins for a total run time of 3hrs15.

As I was coming down the street finishing up I could have been the winner of the Boston Marathon. I was that happy. I felt like I had broken through a wall of sorts, and instead of it being painful, it was one of the most effortless and enjoyable runs of my life. The smile literally never left my face for 35kms.

Today was a special day. I had a massive breakthrough and the high has still not worn off. As I said in my twitter/facebook status: 

"Dear limitation, I hope it didn't hurt too much when I smashed you into a million tiny pieces today. Warn your friends, I am coming for them next". 

I know that the nature of running dictates that the bitch will be back, and I will suffer. But for today, I am basking in my love for running. And I am burning it into my memory (and my blog) so that the next time I have a tough run I can remind myself that bad days make these great days even sweeter.


Darin Hunter said...

Fantastic run babe, get ready to start running that much every weekend. You are an ultra-rock star!

Barb said...

I just started following your blog! Your a great inspiration...after I read your post I couldn't wait to get out and run this morning!

Barb :)

cherelli said...

wow, that is just fantastic. does this mean honey packets will now be part of race plan?

Jenna said...

so this means when you go to grainfeilds or smitty's for breakfast you are stealin the honey? right? I bet you can get flats of honey packets for cheap as costco. Very resourceful of you I might add - despite the odd looks you might have gotten - you would have had more if you were bonking and wandering around until Darin could come and get you! Yeah, well done beating that limitation into submission!!!

Kelly B. said...

What a great post!! Can you bottle some of that positive energy and send it to me? Thanks.
And Happy (belated) Birthday to Darin...if I remember correctly, we shared a b-day on Friday!!
And I could have possibly just embarrased myself..Hahahahahahahaaaa!!!!

Julie said...

WOW. Congratulations on blasting that 30km limitation to smithereens!!

So resourceful about deke-ing into Starbucks too!! Hee-hee!! What a great idea about the honey. :) :)

What a fantastic run on so many levels... :) :) :) :)

KK said...

What a great post-congrats on your run. It sounds blissful. And congrats on your race , too. Amazing.