Tag Archives: pace

Stormin Norman

22 days until the first race of the three left for me this season.

This is approaching the time when my body starts red lining, kneecaps start dislocating, and tendons start popping. Historically speaking.

My chase pack has somewhat decided to keep coming along for the journey and I have one enlisted in at least the upcoming August race. They must know my training is going well, so I don’t blame them…

For once, I actually feel quite prepared and I’m three weeks out. I only have to take 3 seconds off my last race time to get sub 25, and I am absolutely 3 seconds stronger than I was in June. Three times less stressed, and with three times more free time. Still warped, and still asymmetrical, but maybe I’m finally making it work for me.

And now I have a secret weapon.

One of my super generous friends gave me a steep discount on a GPS watch and I am now the proud running partner of a TomTom. In the setup process, the first step is to name the watch, which I assume is to write “My name‘s Watch” so you can claim some sort of ownership or some return to sender information. Or to rush through to the fun part where you actually get to use it.

In line with none of those strategies, I named my watch Norman because that was my stereotyped name of someone who is as excellent a mathematician as this little guy.

Running with instant feedback is such a luxury, like having a coach that will tell you how you’re doing but only if you care to know. So you can verify when you actually are running as slow as you feel, or you can confirm when you are going at a pace that you really can’t maintain.

Onward and upward, overthinking it the whole way!

Me and Stormin’ Norman are on it.

Run

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The Thrill of the Chase

As another race day comes and goes, another start line is approaching in the distance.

After a sub- par performance at a 5k race last May resulting in a 25:45 finish, I was not particularly impressed with my time. Neither were two of my friends, K and S, who I used to run against back in the day. The days when we absolutely flew with unappreciated athleticism. Once they had finished reminding me how slow I had gotten (as all good friends should do), I challenged them to test their current cardiac output.

So today we raced.

The course was flat, the sun was out, and the light breeze against us on the way out was a fresh reminder that we would have the wind at our backs to the finish. We started close to the front because I will never again zig- zag a 6 minute kilometer trying to hurdle children, sidestep strollers, and be called “too aggressive” for a race (The Pace to Race). When the gun went off, there were only a few mild swerves needed to get onto a clear path and I was good to go.

Beyond the start line I didn’t know where K or S was, but just nearing the 1km mark I saw some waving arms beside me and looked over to see K settle in at my side. We ran in silence, knowing we had both set goal times that were not achievable with wasted breaths. At the first kilometer marker, my watch blinked 4:52 to which I clapped and gave K a big thumbs up. She had headphones in and I didn’t catch her attention so I just settled back in and rejoined her in “the zone”.

We continued on in silence, other than a “Well, that’s pleasant” comment from K when we got hit with a wall of animal droppings/ sewage/ nuclear waste odor. Kilometer 2 came at 9:57.

Approaching the turnaround, K said she was going to have to slow down but she didn’t seem to drop off so I thought it was more of a warning than a factual statement. We rounded the halfway pylon at 12:36 but I wasn’t panicking, yet.

K slowly started to fade back and I kept moving with increased fear of one of them catching me, now that I had put some space between us. There is absolutely a mental advantage to running with your competition. It is much scarier to not know where they are and to have to set the pace rather than hold a pace. Ego is on the line, here.

The next kilometer was my slowest; I think I got a little too comfortable which would have be great if it was a race longer than only 5 kilometers. But it was 5 kilometers. You don’t get comfortable.

I hit the 4 kilometer mark solo with a sloshing sound echoing from my stomach and cheesy motivational sayings starting to cycle through my head. I tucked in behind a woman with a blue tank top and an indistinguishable tattoo on her shoulder and just wheezed annoyingly behind her. There is no bodily sound that is embarrassing enough to deter you when you put your “fastest” reputation from a decade ago on the line.

The 4 kilometer sign coming and going meant that I had to run a 4:45/km pace to get me to the line in time. I ended up passing the tattooed blue tank top wearer and crossing the finish line with what felt like an optimal combination of strength and fatigue. The woman I passed actually came and found me as I was wandering and panting in the finish area and gave me a solid high five. Bam. No words needed. I love the running community.

My chip time was 25:03, which was four seconds slower than my goal of 24:59. That stings a little but I now have the confidence that I can run a sub 25 minute race; I just didn’t do it today.

Today’s run was a full 42 seconds faster than my last race and I’m absolutely on track to get some great times under my belt by the end of this racing season.

The summer of the 5k continues!

MEC

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Again, but From Here

It has been 2 weeks since the race, and today was my first run since. After a week off for knee relief, followed by several tiring days and a few sleepless nights, I decided that not running was the best training option. I was also hoping that my muscle memory would forget my last performance, and go back to my older, faster, gait. I’m sure there is a historical example of where sitting, waiting, and wishing resolved an issue…

Once my knees remembered that they are 27 and not 87, I opted to run today and start back into a more goal- oriented workout schedule. I headed out into the sunshine and relatively fresh air (it is Toronto, after all) and started off with the intention to run 20 minutes easy, followed by 10 minutes at a 5k pace. Somewhere, the running gods were having a great laugh at my expense.

I felt exhilarated to be running again; with the cool wind at my back, the sun in my face, and the musical serenades of obnoxious, beat- driven dance songs in my ears. I planned an out and back course and felt great until about halfway, when the sun started feeling a little too hot and perfectly timed, an elderly woman told me “I wish you wouldn’t run in this heat”. I gave a friendly smile back to her concerned scowl, but saved my breath for the way home.

I changed my plan to just run for 30 minutes because I was anticipating that my threshold pace and my easy pace were one and the same today. I imagined that at 20:01 I would lurch forward and catch myself, falling back into the exact same pace. No extra energy to waste on that one good stride today! It was just a little heartbreaking that my easy pace was actually a few seconds per kilometer faster than my race pace two weeks ago, but not to worry, I knocked that out of my system and dropped down to somewhere around a 5:30/km pace.

The only time I got close to my wannabe 5km pace was when I saw a sprinkler and actually chased the stream of water (which I did not catch up to) so I then casually came to a pause (shamelessly stood on someone’s lawn) so that I could not be missed this round.

The rest of the trip home was slow and hot, a drippy combination of sweat and hose water. But it happened, and 30 minutes came.

It is hard to be disappointed with any run at this point so I’m eagerly looking ahead to the next one.

I have to catch that sprinkler.

 

 

 

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Hitting My Stride

Eye of the Tiger playing on repeat didn’t work last time so I tried a new strategy today… which was just being normal.

I signed up for a race this weekend after my dreams were crushed in last weekend’s attempt. Well, that is an exaggeration but I had wanted a better result. I had my mind set on beating 25 minutes, but my body didn’t follow through. So I set up a plan to try again.

I came to my parents house this weekend for a visit and of course, for another race. Luckily for me, all conditions were in my favour, especially compared to my last race. The weather was as close to perfect as it ever gets for races, and it was the opposite of the hurricane- like scene of last weekend. I had a ride to the race which also meant I had a warm up buddy (thanks mom) and I could strip down my layers at the last minute. My dad made sure to weave through the women at the start line to give me a firm handshake and yell “Give ’em shit!” which did a great job of clearing me some space.

Due to lots of rain over the past week, the original course was flooded and the new route was much flatter. Like I said, things were turning up in my favour.  We were running an out and back course on a flat bike path, I had a great starting position, my laces were double knotted, and my cheering section was waiting for 25 minutes (as they specified).

The first kilometre was the hardest but at the 1k mark, I was running a 4:50 pace and that was a good feeling. As we ran through the park I saw some old co-workers and after yelling a friendly greeting, I almost forgot I was racing. The bonus to running in my hometown is that I know that park inside and out, and it is easy to get comfortable. As comfortable as racing can be.

Beyond the turnaround, I found I had a new cheering section in the runners behind me. Some friends from old soccer teams or people I knew from the running community hollered my name and yelled encouragement as I headed back to the finish. That felt great and I found more motivation to get myself across the finish line even faster.

Turning the last corner before the finish was when I really started gasping for air… but then I saw the clock. I could roll to the finish line and cross this goal off of my list. Not only did I beat my last time, but I beat my goal time. I really beat it. I happily crossed the finish line at 24:32, high fiving strangers and looking for my parents’ excited faces in the crowd.

As a kid, running races with my family was just an average weekend. It’s funny, though; 15 years later and there is still no feeling that matches seeing your proud parents cheering you on from the sidelines.

Another good feeling is having to set another goal.

training

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Hot to Trot

I should clarify the use of the word ‘trots’ versus just the word running. First, and most importantly, it rhymes with squats and gives me a catchy name… Also, as it turns out, my running form suffered post accident and my friends entertained themselves with my scurrying/ trotting/ Frankenstein shuffle when I was first attempting to run again. I used one leg more than the other and the bum leg would always hit the other one. As with all good friends, they don’t let me forget these moments and in their minds no pace will ever upgrade me from a scurry or trot.

I can hold a 4:50/ km pace now and it feels like I am going so fast that I borderline lose control going around corners. No these are not hairpin turns but your average street corners with pedestrians diving out of my way. If you can’t visual a 4:50 pace then just know that I am kidding about everything after that.

I used to get paid to analyze gait and teach running form and now I am rubbing elbows with the wheezers, the newspaper readers, and the feet slammers of the treadmill world. This is when I tell great stories of my past but my friends just laugh and ask me “why run, anyways” as they flex their muscles and compare (lack of) body fat.

Lifting weights is empowering and exhilarating but the runners high is a different breed. You have no equipment to push, it is just you pushing yourself. There can be no satisfactory slam of weights at the end of a set; it is a constant effort rewarded by the sounds of heavy breathing and footsteps responding to pavement. Sometimes running feels more rewarding because I literally feel like I got somewhere. Maybe that is illogical but I never promised logic here… 🙂

Whether you are pumping iron or pumping your arms, you got your workout in.

And whatever speed you move at, it all starts with a good trot.

shalane_OT_2010

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