Sunday, May 29, 2011

What you don't know you don't know.

Hooray! The first race of the year that I haven't had to fight the elements!

I awoke at 430 this morning to a crisp but completely clear sky. It was a bit of a restless night, waking every hour and thinking it was time to get up. Part of this may have been due to the fact that I had forced myself into bed at 8pm so my body was a little off it's normal clock. When I stood up, everything hurt. All my muscles, bones and joints. But this often happens to me when I take a few days off.

I was coming off a calf injury from a really hard stair workout a couple of weeks ago so today could have gone really well or ended up in the dumps. You never know. Fortunately I don't get really really invested in any single race any more, or maybe I've just run too many. So I wasn't attached to an outcome. Just ready to do my best.

I made my coffee, drank my water and Vega Sport and waited anxiously until I could wake the girls up at 5:15. Poor kids. I wasn't able to coerce any family members into staying over last night so I had to get my girls up really early and take them over to their favorite babysitters house, who also happens to be the daughter of one of my best friends, Lori. We pulled in at Lori's at 5:55 am. And the girls couldn't have been more excited to get to watch movies and eat banana bread with Cass.

As Lori jumps in the front seat I say to her "I honestly think I'm more excited for your race than mine!" And it was true. Lori and I have known each other for a couple of years now and share a lot of passions including healthy eating, running, kids (cafe Artigiano in the middle of a run) and the balance of it all. She has been an absolute rock for me in the past 6 months through a pretty tough personal issue and honestly there were some mornings that I don't know what I would have done without her. I have seen her running improve by leaps and bounds this year and it is only going to continue once I can convince her of her greatness and maybe to do some speed work with me.

Now I think this is the first time Lori has seen me before a race so she had no idea how wacko I am. She laughed at me the whole way there, which included a stop at Tim's and even a chinese fire drill on 16th ave as I jumped out of the car to close an open door just as the light turned green. We had the music pumped and big smiles on our faces.

But it all came together on the start line. I knew I was up against some very fast women but my goal today was to get a PB. I don't really remember the first 40 minutes of the race except I knew I was running a bit faster than I should have, averaging about 3:53/km but I felt great. I crossed the 10k mark at 39 minutes, pounded a gel and continued on feeling strong. Once we had gone over the Crowchild bridge and I began to see the lead men coming back I knew we were close to the turnaround. As Melissa Kendrick passed me (in 3d at the time) and then Kathryn Waslen and one other woman, I decided this had to be it. I had slowed a bit to about 4:05/k just to be cautious but after the next gel I had to let go. I picked out the 5th place woman and decided to reel her in. It took me until the Centre Street bridge, about 4k from the finish to pass her but as I've been trained to do, when you pass you pass fast for the psychological edge. I literally made a decision to drop the crazy idea that I couldn't pass her, and symbolically dropped my gloves to prove it to myself, and let 'er rip. Kinda cheezy but I have to train my brain so this kind of stuff helps me.

In addition to this, my friend Rick had recently explained an interesting theory to me. It was all about what you don't know you don't know. So what I didn't know today was how hard I could push. It seemed unreasonable to try to hold a sub 4 minute pace because I'd never done it before, but it turns out it was in that realm of what I didn't know I didn't know. I didn't even know I could do it and had never considered it. But having gone there and surprisingly without too much pain, I know now I can even go faster. Honestly, when I compare the pain I used to be in when I first started racing to now, it's nothing. I have to learn to push harder!

I was able to hold 3:40/k for the last 2km and just as one of my favorite, and very symbolic songs came on, Rick, who had just PB'd in the 10k popped out of the crowd and ran with me for a few hundred meters. Oddly enough the song had a lot to do with him and so it gave me a huge boost of energy and I sprinted all out with only 500m to go. Insert small lesson here: do not eat gel without water. Major barf factor if you do which hit me on the way up the little hill into the finish. I almost lost it but told myself that I had not worked this hard to give up now. It felt like my lungs were going to come out of my mouth but knowing it was only 20 more seconds of pain enabled me to get through it.

I crossed in 1:26.01. 5 seconds faster and I could have been in the 1:25 range I was hoping for and 30 seconds faster and I would have been in 3d place. I had no idea Melissa and Kathryn were so close. But today is not a day for regrets. It is for celebration. Many of my friends had PB's and I had a PB. I placed top 5 overall and I am ecstatic.

And... as it turns out my friend Lori pulled off a PB as well, beating her previous best by over 10 minutes. Absolutely amazing. I am so proud of her.

I took Nat and Jas out to Nellies for breakfast with some of my prize money and we are going to spend the afternoon biking at NoseHill with Maui and planting our garden in the sunshine.

It's all about what you don't know you don't know.

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Summer Playground

It's Monday morning. The trail systems in Calgary are finally dry and I'm anxious to get off the road. I was signed up to run the Mother's Day 10k yesterday but after two 10ks and a 1/2 marathon all in the past two months, I just didn't have it in me to hit the pavement again. Instead, stories with my two wonderful little girls in bed, coffee and a great 90 minute run in Nosehill. It was my mother's day present to myself. Permission not to race and just be a mom. My 10k goal for this year is to go sub 37 but I knew yesterday wasn't going to be the day when I woke up and my legs felt like lead and not one cell in me wanted to run in the rain with 10,000 other people. Those are the days when you cut your losses.

The trails revived me. So much so that I was back out there with Maui first thing this morning, searching out the hills, focusing on getting my speed up and getting comfortable with the pain of up hill again after 3 months of running through city pavement. It felt great. It felt like being a kid. The trails just do that to you. It's like a playground.

My focus for the next two months is on Nationals July 9 in Canmore, my chance to qualify again for World Mountain Running Championships. I'd like to keep my endurance and distance up as I still plan to attend the Trans Rockies Run in August, but I'd like to see where I can go with mountain running short course again this year.

Next race this month is the Nipika Crazy Soles 25k. June is a 5peaks, K100 with my alumni University of Alberta xc team, and the Trans Rockies Rundle run at the end of June. All trail except for K100 where I get the 18km uphill. And so, whenever I get a chance I will be in Nose Hill, Bowmont, and within the Douglas Fir trails in Calgary, working on the hills. Weekends will be longer distances in the mountains with big groups of crazy ultra runners ;).

Finally... after a long long long winter and virtually no spring, I'm back in my playground.

Happy Trails!