The Ups & Downs of It

My run last Monday morning was 12.5 km of rain and discomfort. I have to say, I feel for Dylan Wykes and his GI issues that gave him a DNF (did not finish) instead of an Olympic Standard qualifying time – I guess I thought I’d sympathize with him or something. Anyway, it all slowed me down terribly and made running not so much fun. I ran up and over Burrard Street bridge just at the moment the rain decided to pour buckets on me and my stomach really twisted and it was at that point I thought maybe I really should just turn around – but no, I went all the way. This persistence to keep going even when there is nothing is fun about it is part of what I believe is getting me through these weeks of training. Because believe me, it isn’t all fun all of the time.

On Friday morning, I must have sleep walked out the door. Once I finally got going and was about a kilometre in, I was distraught to see my pace was hovering at around a 7:00/km (about a minute slower than easy pace). It didn’t get much better from there and with heavy legs I clumsily finished those 10km, complete with a few walk breaks. Ouch. There was also that oh so very tough Wednesday workout at the track when I just couldn’t hit my paces, this morning when the wind was blowing at 55km/hr trying to knock me over from what felt like every direction, or the downright awful run last Friday evening when my legs felt like paperweights being dragged across the pavement.

Yet of course it isn’t all bad. If it was I’d have thrown in the towel long ago! I have many really great runs also. The best are the ones I forget I’m even running – they really do happen. Last Thursday I had the pleasure of hitting the seawall with a past running buddy who was briefly in town for a visit. Those 10km flew by before I really even realized we’d begun – a gorgeous sunny day in Stanley Park with a great run partner… There are some things in life that are invaluable and this is one of them. And then there was last Sunday, when the sun was shining and the seawall was a traffic jam of runners soaking in the beautiful weather. I flew down the gravel path, floated up the normally detested UBC hill, and then zipped effortlessly back down and home. It was truly most enjoyable.

Some runs are good in a different way – in that they are hard, but the elation of hitting my pace within the run and feeling good afterwards outshines any temporary physical discomfort. Last Saturday was 30km with 21 of them run at my marathon pace. I ran with Forerunners fast group and while they all chatted around me because that was their easy pace, I just did my best to stay with them. I followed them over the Burrard bridge and around Stanley Park, all the way out and over Cambie bridge. At exactly 21km I let them drop me. Looking down at my average pace, I had managed a 5:01/km. I had been hoping for a 5:02-5:08/km. Sweet! With that, my faith in my ability to reach my goal was strengthened. This past Saturday was 35km run at a progressively faster pace – a tough workout, but with much satisfaction in the fact I was able to pick up the pace as the mileage accumulated, instead of hitting the wall and fading as I’ve done in so many other long runs.

In the grand scheme of my overall training plan, I just finished another 140km week – it’s 10 weeks down, 8 weeks to go. And by now I fully realize that not every single run is going to be a good run. Some will be okay and some will feel downright awful. But many will feel good and a few will be absolutely great. I do everything in my power to strategically ensure that my quality workouts will be the great ones. That my races will be the great ones. Because at the end of the day, through the ups and downs of it all, it’s race day that all this training will be remembered by.

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