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Pushing my limits through the – D O G D A Y S O F A U G U S T
“R”, in the S.M.A.R.T. training plan is all about my “Reality of Effort”.
Going into week 15 of this 50K Ultra Training; in combination with competing in the LMRRS had me pushing limits way beyond my comfort level!
I was however, confident that “if”, I maintained training and followed the plan, I could do well in both – provided I stay injury free.
August was all about “OVERSPEED”.
Speed is speed and it hurts. It hurts if you’re doing a 200M sprint or 1 mile repeats. It especially hurts when your legs are sore from the previous workout. My legs always hurt because I stand at my cutting table for 7-8 hours a day. Pain is irrelevant.
So what the heck is “overspeed”? It varies from road to trails but here are few examples from my August sessions:
Hill-work – running reps super fast up & or downhill on a super steep trail from 400M – 1K – repeat until you can’t. #FaceOfPain
Mountain – tempo run fast uphill on dirt, gravel, roots (or all of the above) – quick feel down – repeat until you can’t. This workout tended to make my brain rattle around in my skull, causing my eyes to dart around in their sockets making it impossible to focus. The downhill was very nerve-wracking since I couldn’t see where my feet were landing. #BrokenBones
Stairs – my personal favourite: Wreck Beach stairs (150 stairs). Run up the uneven steps as fast as possible; then back down as recovery (which seldom happens). Repeat until you can’t. The most I managed were 3 X150 (to the top) + 3 X 75 ( 1/2 way up)…but could barely walk for 2 days after. It may have been due to the fact that I’d bruised the ball of left foot running over rocks to GET to the stairs along Wreck Beach! #BouncingBrainBallRun
Border Collie Pull – take our 92 year old neighbour’s 1 year old Border Collie for a hilly forest romp. Get you butt dragged fast uphill so your feet seldom touch the ground! #OverSpeed
Carey Nelson’s Speed Clinic – Run 3K uphill in 33c hot humid sun and then run 6 X 800M into the headwind. #NotGoingToTheOlympics but Carey did twice so we just do what he says.
The morning of the Squamish 10K, ( #6 of the LMRRS), I received an encouraging message from Coach Jason in France. I hadn’t heard from him for awhile, so welcomed his encouragement & strategy . I needed an AG win for this race to move up in the series rankings. His advice was to seek out a woman who looked my age at the start of the race and then shadow her until the last 2-3K. Then take off like a gazelle and beat her.
Well, in theory that was an excellent plan but it’s hard to tell the age of some of these super fit women. Many runners in their 60’s & 70’s (who look 40), can kick my butt without blinking.
It’s was very hot and humid as it had been for 5 months and of course “smoke” was part of the weather condition. “HATE” is a strong word…but I truly hate smoke. Any kind of smoke. It hurts my eyes, brain & lungs; not to mention it’s hard enough to breathe when you are sucking wind & already gasping for air!
The good news for me was the fact that most of the women in my AG were not present & that made me very happy. #Advantage
I was promised a “flat course”, (they lied), which at this point, all the hill running should net me a good race.
Jason’s goal for me was a 7:25 mile pace and then “dig deep”, for the last Mile or so for a strong finish.
5 days before the race he had me doing 3 X 1 Mile track repeats which I had done in 7:20, 7:22 & 6:49. I kind of thought it seemed bit “risky”, to do such an intense workout that close to an important race but did it anyway because I was following “the plan”, and had faith in my coach.
So I started out at an aggressive pace until I rapidly realized the course was “not flat” and being unfamiliar with the course, decided to follow my instincts and alter my pacing. I was pretty much alone (between 2 larger groups), for the run until 7.5K when I felt the breath of someone sneaking up on me.
Over my shoulder, I saw the #FaceOfPain, of a woman who looked my age. Then I made a huge mistake! I stopped for water at the aid station. Well…I walked through BUT SHE, ran through and kept going! Faster than me!!
I “dug deep”, and tucked into her shadow for the last mile. We rallied and panted (mostly me), and paced each other until the final sprint. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t catch her. SHE was the better runner & had the better strategy.
After crossing the finish line, I saw her pick up her baby & instantly realized she couldn’t possibly be in my menopausal age group! We hugged like so many runners do at the finish. She said she’d assessed me from the start and tried to “catch me”, for 7K. We had a good laugh and congratulated each other for ” leaving it all out there”.
Competition can bring out the worst or best, in people and for us that day, it was the latter. We pushed each other beyond our limits and both won our age groups. My time was 47:56 and if I could have gone faster…believe me I would have!
It’s not always about the distance or the time it takes when racing but how you compete and ultimately what you learn from the experience.
On top of doing back-to-back weekend hilly & technical runs of 2-3 hours, speedwork, x-training, dog walking, yoga & “work”, I thought it would be a good idea to participate in a study for Cardiovascular Risk in Masters Athletes. If you are reading this, you might be thinking I’m a good candidate for the “risk”, factor.
Seriously though, I’ve had a heart murmur since my early 20’s, so decided I should get checked out & tracked for the next 5 years. Besides, if I could contribute to saving someone’s life (perhaps my own), why wouldn’t I? My initial screening was back in May but because of the murmur, I was asked to come in for an ECG.
It was the day AFTER the Wreck Beach stair climbing fiasco. They wired me up, cranked the treadmill to 16% grade and let me go!
The speed was increased every 3 minutes similar to a lactate threshold test. I lasted for 20 but it felt more like 2 hours. #FaceOfPain #BevBarfBag
My heart rate didn’t get up as high as I’d hoped. 174 (seriously Bev), but this wasn’t a competition & I was just glad to stop moving and lie down while they unplugged me and gave me water.
Now that I’m re-reading this for the 90th time before publishing…I’m starting to think I’m losing it. Training for my first ultra, trying to win my AG in the LMRRS, launching a new business, running my other business, sponsoring athletes, developing a new dance line, trying to maintain a social life and volunteering yet again for Carey’s summer speed clinic? #CanYouCarryTheBagsUnderMyEyes?
For the past several years, I’ve volunteered as a pace leader for Carey Nelson’s (see athletes profile here), summer speed clinic which started July 9. We do a rotating schedule of 800M road intervals, hill repeats, 400M track repeats and finish the clinic with a track meet. We all run a mile TT to see how we’ve improved (hopefully), followed by a 4 X 400 relay. Teams are created fairly by grouping slower runners with the speed demons; so we’re even.
But here’s the thing…after running 1 mile all out, you’re pretty much toast. Lactic acid builds up in your legs so fast that you want to barf! Some do and I came pretty close. So then standing & waiting to run a super fast 400M (for the team), your legs feel like lead weights. Even my arms hurt. Why? Lactic acid was practically coming out of my ears. I felt like a lactic acid water balloon ready to pop.
The excitement of the relay, however, supercharges everyone, so we gave it our all, cheering each other on and running faster than we’ve ever done in practice. There were many personal bests among the group including me with a 1:15 400M in the relay.
The mini-track meet is a relatively short but very intense session. Afterward we get to celebrate with a lot of well deserved carbs & beer at the local pub. Yes, my friends…runners love to eat and eat well.
Volunteering as a pace leader has been a huge part of my development as a runner. When you are out front, leading – people look up to you and the last thing you want to do is let them down. But the best part for me has been encouraging other runners to pursue their goals, improve as athletes and celebrate their victories.
Mine is getting very, very close & I’m excited to be sharing it with one of best ultra runners out there. Coach J.
1. Ran: 220.8KM
2. Time: 29 Hours
3. Elevation Gain: 7044.842M
4. Dog Walking: 279K
5. Sleep: #NotEnough
September will bring the last race of the LMRRS and my final few weeks of training for the Oregon Coast 50K. I’m feeling very tired and worn out but hoping this is all part of the process to make me stronger!
The shift of the seasons next month also sheds a darkness over my plan which I did not anticipate…