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SMOKING HOT J U L Y
Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
– Albert Einstein
I think Albert Einstein was onto something. I know some runners who go at it very consistently and with a vengeance but never get any faster. They wonder why. Ok, so it’s not always about getting faster or winning but I think if you are going to put in all that time and training, wouldn’t you at least want to improve your running technique and maybe reduce your risk of injuries while reaching your goals?
In 2010 & then again last year, after running the BMO marathon, I suffered from an Achilles injury that left me unable to run for 5 months. My insanity pattern was becoming quite obvious. Run the same routes, on the same surfaces in the same shoes over and over and over again and expect things to improve? Not likely. Continue to ignore the pain hoping it will subside and eventually disappear? Not going to happen.
The lump on my Achilles kept getting bigger and it felt like the devil had an axe to grind with my butt! Literally. My hips were so out of alignment from constant forward motion; pounding the pavement and not enough stretching or rolling, that I was starting to feel like a shrink wrapped sausage.
Super cold ice-baths are supposed to help prevent pain & injury after long & intense runs but I was too wimpy to sit in a cold bathtub. I prefer my ice over gin & tonic, so opted for hot baths which actually exasperated the problem. Eventually the pain got to the point where I could barely walk without wincing so went went back to see Dr. FeelGood aka Dr. Aaron Case. He took out this blunt metal object to grind the scar tissue off my heel. The process took 6 sessions over about 3 months and on a scale of 1-10 hurt like 20!
Scott Fraser, my “miracle worker”, physiotherapist at the Sports Medicine Centre whom I’ve been seeing for 15 years says I’m like clockwork. “Beverli”, he says ” you are good for 1000K before needing an oil change”. So I had him “reset” my crooked, twisted hips and promised I’d use the “roller of pain”, which I’m proud to say I do at least a few times per week now. Since coach Jason also swears by the thing…it’s become part of my training regime.
As an athlete, no matter what level…there comes a time when your fitness “plateaus” and what used to work..no longer does. It’s just plain FRUSTRATING! So maybe it’s time to try a new approach and mix it up. Step outside the box. Challenge yourself. Do something different. That’s what I decided to do because as much as I love running – especially long distances, the constant pounding on the pavement and same urban running routes were totally beating up my body, mind & motivation.
When I started this journey of training for my first 50K Ultra Trail Race, I sort of had an idea of what I’d need to do…but not really. Three months into my 5 month training plan I have found myself doing things that I used to think only a crazy person would do. Am I gradually evolving into one of those obsessive mountain running people? Or maybe just pushing myself outside of my comfort zone by learning to run slower on trails and faster under the pressure of a race?
It probably wasn’t the smartest idea to compete in the LMRRS ( to win my 55-59 AG), while training for this Ultra but this my Barnes/Einstein theory: If I train for 5 months aiming for one big event and it doesn’t go well it would be a huge disappointment. But by doing these shorter races (5K – 1/2 Marathon), along the way, I have a shot at some small victories each race which keep my competitive edge sharp in addition to mixing up the bag. For the record, Coach Jason advised me that “I couldn’t have it all”, by competing in the series while training for the ultra (expecting to do well), but anyone who knows me – also knows I can be a stubborn ox and generally do whatever I want anyway.
Of course I don’t want to let either of us down so we’ve adjusted my training plan accordingly and so far, it’s all good.
All of July, I focused on daily morning running drills & bouncing Tailor’s ball while walking her to the beach. The ball bouncing is supposed to help dexterity which hopefully, will translate to keeping my face off the rocks and in the dirt.
There were 2 other challenges for the month of July. A new weather condition called “smoke”, due to excessive forest fires engulfing the province of British Columbia & the never-ending-heat-wave.
Our upstairs bedroom was more like a sauna so we had to move the furniture into the garage and turned our dining room into a temporary bedroom for the month, sleeping on the floor with the dog & cat. The smoke was at a level 4 for over a week so doors had to remain closed. It made for some very uncomfortable conditions.
With no rain in 3 months it was getting scary. Everything was dried up with humid, smoky, hot air that didn’t move. No wind. No breeze. No relief. Training was tough.
For something different and a few days before the event, my partner Deborah Nielsen, friend Evannah & I decided to do the Ironman Sprint Triathlon relay for fun. I had been spending a fair amount of time on the trainer in our “wo-man” cave x-training when I couldn’t run in the smoke so was rather curious to see how well I might do on a the actual road.
The triathlon was at Jericho Park up the street, so why not? However, the morning of the event we woke up to a dark, gloomy sky. It was completely eerie and smelled like smoke. The fires in Pemberton were out of control and the smoke had settled over Vancouver like a creepy, stinky, eerie monster.
Surprisingly the event went ahead and so did we.
Evannah did the 750M open water ocean swim without a wetsuit (brave soul), who had only swam twice since last year, I biked the 20K on my 27 year old Ritchie hardtail and Deb did the beach 5K run. It was SMOKIN” HOT!!! We all wore Luna Sandals ( Evannah didn’t actually swim in hers). We were team LunaChicks. We had a blast and placed 2nd in the event.
Unfortunately, due to the smokey conditions, the awards ceremony was cancelled but we got photos on the podium so I could post it on this blog wearing our matching CA5 Athletics OrangeUHappy – RoadWarrior jerseys.
Oddly, it seems there is something about running slow through trails that translates to faster road times. When the roots, rocks and loose gravel are removed, it’s amazing how smooth the sailing can be! But is does take a lot of practice to feel confident running on rugged terrain. Even skilled trail runners take falls and get injured which can be quite devastating. That’s exactly what happened to my partner Deborah, when she took a nasty fall on a fast descent down Mt. Galiano. Her foot snagged a root and all I heard was a yelp as she landed face down, bending both hands backward at her wrists and knuckles. Feared her fingers were broken, we made it down to the ocean where she could ice them in the cold sea to reduce the swelling.
As I write this blog (2 months later), her right middle finger resembles the lump on my Achilles last year. There’s a good chance she may develop arthritis from the injury but maybe Dr. FeelGood could scrape the pain away!
Unlike the road – trail running focus is not on the light post ahead but more on where your foot is going to land now. Right now! Don’t look up – don’t look over there – don’t think about the next minute…just land that foot and pick it up even faster and stay focused – stop thinking about dinner…just land that foot and keep your turnover fast. Keep moving – breathing -use your arms – stabilize your core – find your line and land that foot without falling. It’s a constant process that takes more focus, balance and exuberance than anything I have ever felt in one fleeting moment! It’s intense!!!
The toughest weekend of training this month was going all out for the Summerfast 10K BC Championships, then getting up the following morning and running 25K hilly trails for almost 3 hours.
I truly believe the older and fitter I get – the sky is the limit! Or at least to the top of the mountain and back.
JULY 1 -31
Run Distance: 162.45K
Elevation Gain: 3,657.60M (peanuts compared to most ultra-trail races)
Hours Running + X-Training + Walking Dog = 68:18
Calories Burned During Training: 14,320
RACE #6 July 5 Ironman Sprint Relay – 2/4 – LunaChicks
Next month is all about hills and over-speed…can’t wait!