Reflections of a Born-Again Runner

Posted: April 23, 2012 in Run, Training
  • Long Bike (click to see stats)
  • Long (Brick) Run (click to see stats)
  • 70.52k (2:33:19) – 16.75k (1:26:53)
  • Avg. Heart Rate = 130 bpm – 154 bpm
  • Max. Heart Rate = 150 bpm – 165 bpm
  • Avg. Speed/Pace = 27.6/kph – 05:11 min/km
  • Best Speed/Pace = 39.6/kph – 04:16 min/km
  • Calories = 4653
  • Temp = 3º
  • Nutrition:  1 btl. Perpetuem (bike), 1 pkg. Sport Beans (run)
  • SOTD: ‘Camelot’  by Bronx Cheerleader

“If you think it’s impossible, please don’t interrupt me while I get it done.”

Today marked my first long brick session of what promises to be a long, and often painful training season leading into September’s challenge (Ironman Wales).  I had originally planned to do this workout yesterday but given the near sub-zero temperature and the gale force rains that poured all afternoon off Lake Erie, I decided to err on the side of caution and headed indoors for a pool workout instead.  But there was no escaping the inevitable this morning. It was still damn cold but at least it was dry.

The bike ride was, for the most part, uneventful, except for the bitter cold northerly winds that whipped down the Niagara Parkway turning my poor feet into slabs of ice.  I even had to break my pace once to stop and resuscitate some circulation back into my toes with my hands for fear that I was getting frost-bitten (in April no less).  Seriously, they looked like frozen breakfast sausages.  I used to scoff at the idea of those faggy-looking neoprene bicycle booties that I see some other riders wearing; instead preferring the ‘suck it up, buttercup’  philosophy of training.  But I’ve already made up my mind to bite the bullet and purchase a pair for next season – most definitely.  I did end up with my first flat tire of the season early into the ride, but I managed to change it with little difficulty and was back on my way quickly.  Good show.

Of course, the post-ride run (brick) is really where the fun ceases to happen in my opinion.  Bike riding is usually fun, even at the worst of times but, running…not so much.  Some days you run for speed, some days for distance, and some days you just run to leave something behind.  Today felt like one of those days.  I tend to get into my own head a lot while running. Particularly, when my feet feel like blocks of frozen meat.  As a means of dealing with the initial discomfort early into the run this afternoon, I started to recollect my earliest memories of running as a child.

My first foray into the world of running occurred back in grade school as part of the cross-country team.  In short, I sucked at it but I enjoyed the thrill of competition even then.  In Grades 3 and 4, there was no such thing as ‘training’ unless you counted the odd sprint to the candy store for penny candy had you been lucky enough to find a quarter in the street as “training”.  The meets back then were only about 2-3k,  which is still a long way when you’re only knee-high to a grasshopper.  It was always me bringing up the rear with Sipacert Changsovang, the exchange student also from my school vying to be dead fucking last.  For the most part we walked, picked the daisies, or skipped stones across the creek at Burgoyne Park where the races were held, and then maybe jog for the last 300/400m  once the spectators came into view before we sprinted the last 50m  or so to avoid being last; it was usually me though.  Lord knows why I put myself through it but it was my habit to join everything…even though I bit at it all equally.

Once, a few years later, as a “warm up” to the ‘Terry Fox Charity Run’ I had signed up for, I decided to jog to my grandparent’s house; a distance of about 8k.  I had no concept of base training back then and have no idea what got into my head, but I set out to ‘practice’ and got the idea to go see grandma.  I remember the sweat dripping into my eyes and the burning in my legs as I trudged along the same ‘Merrit Trail’ that runs along the old 3rd Welland Canal that I train on now.  By the time I arrived, nearly three hours after setting out, I was totally spent and in some serious pain.  In fact, I couldn’t walk for nearly a week afterwards.  Oh well, live and learn.  I feasted on peanut butter sandwiches with the crusts removed and happily accepted bus fare in order to get home again.  Thank God!

I also did some running in high school, albeit reluctantly.  The reason this time had nothing to do with competition, but rather as a requirement for gym class.  I recall running endless laps around the track behind the school – or what we considered a ‘track’ anyway.  In actuality, it was just a worn dirt path that happened to form a loose circle around the football field.  Making matters worse, our teacher Mr. Newman usually ran with us…typically at the back of the pack with us fat and slow kids.  Mr. Newman also had this gross habit of blowing snot out his nostrils as he ran; something affectionately known now among runners and cyclists as a ‘farmers blow’.  So the entire time we ran those afternoon Nazi death marches on that dirt track we had to either stay just ahead of him or risk being hit in the face with wads of freshly expunged balls of mucus.  Talk about motivation!

Fast forward to present day.  I still think running blows and I don’t consider myself a ‘runner’ so much as I do a guy who happens to run…albeit frequently.  And as I was having this thought, I checked my Garmin.  To my surprise, I had been maintaining a comfortable 5:11/kph  pace through the back country roads as the feeling returned to my feet and my legs warmed to the task at hand.  In fact, I felt strong.  I was really given’er considering I had already ridden 70k  that morning.  It’s as if after all these years of poor running and hating it, I had suddenly developed something resembling skill.  Who knew?

Moreover, my legs felt fine afterwards.  I wasn’t limping, not in any great pain and still felt relatively good.  Huh.  I needed this confidence booster early in the season as the thought of attempting my first marathon distance run after a 180k  ride and a 4k  open water swim has been literally giving me nightmares.  However, suddenly, the impossible now seems possible.  Maybe I can do this.  I still have a long way to go, and lots more long bricks to complete before I get there, but I’m not scared anymore.  And, dare I say it, I’m actually beginning to enjoy this whole running thing.

Scary…I know!

  1. Kelly says:

    I’m so glad that you had a good workout today, and I love hearing you be so positive and upbeat on your return home ! And not needing that pickle extraction, well that makes it all the better LOL !

    Even though you may doubt your ability to do this whole Ironman Wales thing, I know you can do it ! You are such an inspiration to so many people !

    I’ll be behind you and supporting you the whole way …. even if it means kicking your ass into gear once in awhile !

    Oh, and really, Mr. Newman ? Thank god that Mrs. Crich had some decorum !

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