Thursday, 28 January 2016

10 weeks of reconstruction

Back to Square 1
October 18th last year saw me drop out of the half marathon at MEC race 7. I stopped after 14 km to avoid the catastrophe of completely knotted hamstrings. 
A break from running is the worst kind of break, but I took the next 2 weeks off. I used the time to plot my comeback for a fun 2016. 

Gentle start
November's plan was to do short distances at low speed. My first run back was a quiet and easy 5k. 
Just a week later was the Banff Winterstart, 8km in the dark. While I could see the attraction of it, the dark and therefore unsighted slippery patches had me on edge. Feeling uneasy, slow and rather weak, I was relieved to finish more than anything. 
The rest of November was uneventful, just as I had wanted. 

Base Camp
December and January was the next phase: building a base. Very small doses of faster speeds went into fairly low but gradually growing mileage. 
Persistence, even on Christmas Day and patience in watching speed, strength and a little endurance gradually return. 
MEC race 1 in mid-January, a 5k, was a nice early early test. I performed quite well despite the cold and lack of grip. 
Even though my new watch goes a little funny at the start of downtown runs - I didn't actually run through the Provincial Court by way of a karaoke bar - I have gradually been piecing myself back together.
Yoga has been part of injury prevention, and a de-stressing counterbalance to life in general. Heart rate 40-90 bpm. 

Now the tough work, the specific training plan, begins. 
145km ran in January, my highest monthly total since September. It's all uphill from here. 

Saturday, 16 January 2016

The year truly begins - MEC Race #1 5k

Welcome to 2016
It's only January, but without this race I'd be waiting until March to start the season. That would make for a long, unhinging winter. 
Time then for a little 5k, MEC race 1. It was the kind of cold in which you can feel your skin freeze within 30 seconds of removing your gloves. 
Out to the start, with all jiggling about dressed like multicoloured astronauts. 
Group warmup, more necessary than usual as it was -15, and -21 with windchill. As someone who didn't grow up with Canadian winters, I need more head insulation than most. 

The Question 
Aim for this race was mostly to answer the question- what sort of shape was I in? I'd been in base training since the start of December, slowly rebuilding after injury in October. 
I'm at my heaviest at this time of year also, so what time could I expect on such a day? 22 minutes perhaps. 

Traction Control 
I was a little swamped at the start...
...which went round in a semicircle before  straightening out. 
A loop along the river turning around at 14th street, I was mildly disappointed that the course would go the slightly slower anti-clockwise direction. 
Making my way past some slowing fast starters, the foot bridge over the river blunted my progress. The surface was so slippery that extra effort ended up being lost at toe-off. The harder I tried, the closer I got to kicking my own bottom.

Overtake On The Left
Once off the bridge, I put effort into picking off more runners. 
Up onto 14th Street bridge, my breath was getting a little ahead of me, so I backed off slightly before joining the pathway south of the river. 
I was overtaken by the leading lady as I got onto the path. That's your pacemaker I decided. The gap widened at the 10th street bridge underpass, which I took very cautiously. I caught up again, gradually finding stronger pace.

Finishing Frisson 
With 800 or so metres left, I decided to continue slowly accelerating and see what speed I'd top out at. As I re-passed the leading lady, I heard quickened breathing and increased cadence behind me. It seemed to fade as I continued to find unexpected end of race speed. 
My camera stopped just as I rounded the last corner. Noooo. What it missed was my slowly tackling the semicircle finish. 20:59 was my chip time, 5th overall and AG 3rd although there's no prize for that. 

The answer to the question?
A fairly strong performance at this stage given the un-traction, cold and volume of clothing I had to wear. There's plenty of work to do, so stay alert for any possible injury. In other words, it's all on the right track. 
Next race is in 2 months, so keep on running. The next phase is called "sharpening", starting Feb 1.