Once upon a time it seems forever ago now, I trained my tummy mostly off and did IMC. I got through it by the skin of my teeth, having my body crap out during the last peak of the training. I found out later than I'd actually done the race with a partially torn meniscus in my right knee. I was in pretty tough shape.
My priorities over the winter and spring were to try to get my knee back into shape with prolotherapy and ART, and lots of specific exercises. Even though I'd struggled with the bike for most of 2010, it was the running I wanted to work on. And oddly enough, running didn't particularly hurt my knee, though it would if I went too hard, or too fast, or too long. Biking is what made my knee hurt. Which is weird, I know.
Early on in the year I thought I'd make this year a run focus. Trying to learn to run better. I also did not want to jeopardize my knee recovery. Plus I was working a busy full time job again. One that likes scheduling early morning meetings, so it was difficult getting to swimming. Plus, I was enjoying being unstructured. There were a number of workouts, or rather proto-workouts, that had I been on a plan, going for a big goal, determined and all that, I would have pushed myself through it. However, many of them I rolled over and went back to bed. It was nice taking a mental break from a full on training schedule.
The consequence of being a bit of a slacker showed up this weekend. I thought a half marathon would be a nice distance. One that would let me gauge my fitness and running ability. I didn't want to do Calgary Harvest, way too many people involved. But I heard about a nice little race in Fernie. I pictured running through the trails along the river, enjoying the mountain views, listening to the Elk River, crunching the leaves under foot. I could see it in my mind. When I signed up, there was only 4 other guys in it, and I thought that 3 out 4 was excellent odds for a podium finish.
Plus, my buddies Cath and Jason live in Fernie, and it's always nice to see them. And I had an opportunity to stop in the windy pass to get the salsa from Julie. But she was out training. MG was asleep, so I visited with Peanut for a few minutes, then we headed out. MG will never know how hard I looked for an NDP sign.
Reality struck this morning. Big time. I got a good look at the course map, which included an elevation profile that I hadn't seen before. The first 4 K or so are a nice flat warm up, then it turns into a scramble for the next K or two, straight up the mountain. That's the way it looks anyway, and Jason assured me it wasn't far from the truth.
The drive down had sporadic rain. Saturday afternoon was nice. Package pickup was quick and painless, and for a nice surprise, I got our house number as the race number. I thought that was a good omen. We walked back into town to have a late lunch, then down the road to Beanpod Chocolate for a snack. They make their own chocolate! It was wonderful! (J&N, just go there next visit, you can thank me later.) That will be on the list of things to do next time we visit. Cath was talking of snow shoeing, which I've always wanted to try. So I guess we're going down there again in the winter.
We woke up to rain. Rain rain rain. And just cool enough to dither about what to wear. There would be no leaves crunching under foot. I ended up going with tights. Most of the women were in capris, and most of the guys had shorts on. You could just see your breath on the air.
Sure enough, the first 4 K was flat and then headed up the mountainside. By then I was well back in the pack, so it was a slippery, sloppy enchilada going up there. Just after the 5 K mark I found my legs, and it was nice running till about the 9 or 10 K mark, then it started to hurt. It sort of varied between light and hard rain, then about half way through the race it stopped and started to warm up.
The rest of the course was pretty flat. My support crew showed up en masse under a bridge about 10 K to cheer me on, which was very nice. My hip flexors had been talking to me about this experience, and they were not terribly happy with me. Except for the scramble up, my breathing and heart rate had been just fine, but my legs were not in the running mood. At some point in the teens I started walking a few steps just to give the him flexors a break. There are some tricky bits on the path, what with tree roots and mud, which are never a good combination, to say nothing of a cold river RIGHT THERE.
I'd figured out pretty quick this wasn't going to be a fast race for me. The bottom of my feet were getting tender what with all the rocks and stuff. The course had only water to to drink, being handed out by partially-trained beings less than half my height. One time I'd pointed to one little guy and was aiming to take his cup. His buddy, between me and him, tried to rush in and force me to take his cup instead, as if that was the competition or something. By then I wasn't in the mood.
The late teens were a bit of a sufferfest. I was trying to limp on both feet. The problem with walking is that it catches stones that go into your shoes. I had to stop a few times to dig them out. In the end, I think the course was short. All the K marks came about when I expected them, up till 20. And then really quick, and I know I wasn't running that fast, there was the finish line.
It was nice to sit and fold up for a little while. Back at the house I showered carefully (just a touch of nipple chafe), and used the ball on my feet, and the stick on my legs. The drive back I stretched out and relaxed, and tried to snooze, and it was really good till I tried to put my shoes back on just before getting home. My left hamstring cramped really badly. Ouch.
It is clear unstructured training doesn't get the job done. I weighed a bit more than I thought I did, which didn't help the legs. If I'm going to do well in the planned triathlons next year, I've got to buckle down and get serious about the core work again. The base is mostly still there, but I need to work on muscle strength and endurance. And getting the weight down.
Now, I'm sure you'll pardon me while I go pop an asprin and put my feet up.