Sunday, April 11, 2010

Brain Freeze

The last "long" run before Boston this morning. Urgh. It wasn't long and it wasn't fast, not that any of my long runs have been particularly fast recently; running "long and fat" was how I described it to a friend recently and I think that adequately describes it.

Despite being a fraction of the time and distance of many of the recent Sunday morning excursions, this run hurt all over; all over the park, all over the North End, all over the South End and all over the water-front. It also hurt all over my body; my hips, knees and ankles. At one point I gave one of those little "eeks" as something protested the motions (trying to keep up with the Rocket and the Pocket Rocket, who were loping easily along as is their wont), making the Rocket look around and ask "did you just pull something" to which I had to say "Only my brain! I had it in my mind I was going to run a marathon a week Monday, I'll go home and ice it; that should make it go away".

It was like that time at this year's Moose when I thought I could run with the Pocket Rocket. After all, I have in the past so it seemed natural we should stick together again. She started throwing numbers out over her shoulder, 6 minutes for the first mile, then again and, alarmingly, again. I knew then I was in trouble, running within seconds of my NSAC 5K time but at the start of a 25K run, but she kept on telling me we had never set off this slowly at the Moose. Yikes! Really? I'm red-lined here and I can still see the RNS van! I hung for as long as I could, which was about 10 K, before slipping off the back. Of course, I was running so dumb it took me two goes to get the message; the first time I went off I fought back on to her heels. Goodness knows why, it was clear I was on a hiding to nothing and chasing back on was throwing good energy after bad, yet I gritted my teeth and got back! I like to think my brain was hardwired into cycling mode where you give everything to stay on the wheels and deal with the consequences later. It's a bit like a reflex; in a bike-race taking the time to think "should I jump on that wheel or not" can often mean the difference between getting on the wheel or missing the train completely. Anyway, I didn't even last a kilometer until I got tailed again. This time I watched the elastic stretch without alacrity and when it went ping and hit me in the eye I didn't much care.

As you can see; it wasn't pretty and this was before I got dropped. Seeing me get dropped not once but twice, must have been excruciating to watch; I'm glad Nick left the lens-cap on! Like I said; brain-freeze!

The Moose was early this year. Normally it's the last hurrah before tapering, but this year there was still time to get another 20 miler in the books. Having it in my mind that when the Buffalo Club hove into view it was a sign the hard work was done, realising there was time to get in another long, fat one before sitting on the couch eating cookie-dough ice-cream from the tub while watching romantic comedies came as an unpleasant surprise and as it was Lent I couldn't even resort to the cookie-dough ice-cream in consolation.

Why did I have it in my head the Moose was the finish line for the Boston prep? Surely my training diary should have told me. Well, I don't actually keep a diary with a countdown to Boston, or any event, in it! To be honest, I've only just recently committed the date of the marathon to memory (it's next Monday, right?). For me, knowing the marathon was in mid-April was enough to plan. You know to start to ramp the miles in January(ish), the 20 milers have to start in mid-February(ish) and carry on until the end of March(ish) and taper in April(ish).

Boston prep has been a real grind this year, and this "extra" 20 miler was a nail in my mental coffin. It's not just me; ask around, it seems that everybody has had a hard winter getting ready for Boston. OK, maybe not quite everybody; I admit that this is a self-selecting population, a bit like doctors saying most of the people they know are MDs, PhDs (or both) or sick but you get my drift. In part it seems that many of us started early this time; logging a lot of miles in January and February and then falling off the wagon in March; I conformed to this pattern and I know I was not alone. My training log (albeit a log severely infested by Long Horn Brown Spruce beetles and many of their more pestilant taxonomic relatives) shows that I hit 1000km running this year right on schedule; within a week or two of when I have always historically hit 1K but despite the reassuring total the distribution is all wrong, with the weekly numbers skewed to the left rather than the right. This can't possibly bode well.....

Something wet horribly wrong in February; tired? Injured? Bored?All of the above? Take your pick!

Also it has been commented that this collective feeling of drag-ass has been despite the relatively mild March, and I wonder if perhaps these feelings are somehow inversely linked and it's more a story of "because of" rather than "despite". Usually we slog, well wade, through a pretty shitty March and emerge blinking into the sunlight only when disembarking at Logan. This year March has been shorts weather, nary a flake of snow (sorry Ottawa!) and even the paler amongst us has a hint of a tan. Perhaps we feel somehow entitled to good sensations in our legs when the sun is out and the sun is never out in March. So feeling this bad is what March actually feels like to the endurance runner, it's only our expectations were reset when we saw our shadows that early in the season, like so many ground-hogs.

That said, I'm going back to my burrow and only going to come out in time to get the big banana to Hopkington......


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