Calendar Girl

 

‘Tis the season: awkward egg-nog with colleagues, wearing ugly sweaters with colleagues, making amends with fambigly (7:14), Cousin Eddie’s mock-turtleneck, counting your blessings, and listening to festive music, otherwise ignored for most of the year. In previous years, starting from my youth when my parents held the reigns of our old Panasonic stereo, Nana Mouskouri’s Christmas Album, “Christmas with Nana Mouskouri“, has been consistently my favourite; unlike some children, I had no qualms with what my parents shoved into my ears, including Nana, (pre-disco) Bee Gees, CCR, Simon and Garfunkel, The Onions, and Lionel Richie. This year is no exception. “Old Toy Trains” is the real deal.

It’s also a time for reflection. And as such, I’ve reviewed two calendars I’ve maintained throughout the year, Google and Training Peaks, to look back on the events of the last twelve months.

January

-first attempt at cross-country skiing; fell on face

-raced Robbie Burns and got a really hideous race shirt, which I promptly gave to a friend, whom we love, but to whom we give all of our junk, including clothing, food, old race gear

-a lot of indoor track with a weekly long-run; peaked at 95km/week

-my friend’s new band, “Girls of St. Louis“, played their first show and it was really great; they have a sort of “Built to Spill” meets “Tortoise” sound?

February

-onset of medial tibial pain, which was a huge dinger and red flag since I had had a couple of MT stress fractures in the past; I took a week off and did only pool running

-looks like I did a bit more cross-country skiing; I remember in one of the fields, there were stalks of corn that had been cut off right at crotch-level, which made for some gnarly descents

-trip to Whistler, where the temperatures were so warm; I remember running in shorts past the beautiful Rainbow Park

Jim Gaffigan in Windsor (seemed tired and/or drunk)

March

-I started doing a bit of strength training to get my glutes in gear and try to take the stress off my lower leg; I fit in in a weight room as much as I fit in in a library

-my mileage got so low, especially considering I was going to be racing Boston in a month; maxed out at 62km/week

-I got a haircut, which are far and few between

April

-when you sign up for a race a year in advance, book and pay for your flight, and invite your BFF along, you’re likely to race it no matter what shape you’re in, which is what I did on April 20 in Boston

-I also had to go to Boston to get my friend a Trader Joe’s Pounder

-a lot of pre and post-race pool running

May

-after Boston, my medial tibial issues seemed to have sorted themselves out, which meant that I got back into training and took a break from the roads to focus on track with the goal of running 5000m during the outdoor season; two track workouts and one weekly tempo

-Jays’ game before all the hype

-I vaguely remember this was a stressful time

June

-ah, the month of the pace bunny, the bachelorette party MRI, and the boot: calcaneal stress reaction, which caused enough pain that I couldn’t even walk –outdoor season ended before it even started

-instead I rode Betty, trained and raced, with equal parts spite and enjoyment

July

-it wasn’t until mid-July that I started back running, very slowly at first, and doing a run-walk re-introduction; it felt really awkward and my stride felt alien, but I was happy to be running at all; still a lot of pool running and cycling

-I also started taking lessons to try to learn how drive standard; I had a few lessons but it’s a work-in-progress-on-hold

August

-would you look at that! I started doing tempos, fartleks, hill repeats, and long runs, with my longest by the end of the month at 30.5k and maxing out at 74km/week

-two months until Chicago

-month of love: two weddings and an engagement party

-started meeting with the most amazing and hilarious sports nutritionist, Jen Sygo

September

-with just a few weeks to go before Chicago, looks like I averaged about 70km/week this month, with my longest run at 34.5km; I didn’t do any track work, but had a weekly tempo and did some hill work

-hey, another hair appointment!

October

Chicago Marathon: 3:08:12

-as promised, I took a week off running after the race and just did some easy running for a couple weeks

-Hallowe’en at the museum

November

-I think I would’ve been advised to have taken more time off post-Chicago, but two races this month: 8k cross-country and Big Sur Half Marathon

-a week in California drinking beers, eating ice cream, and discovering my favourite breakfast place

-started track workouts again, which felt so great, not only for the physical and fitness aspect of it, but also the psychological benefits of spending time with my second family

December

-okay, suited up for one more race: Santa Run 5k

-another haircut! Three times in one year might be a record for me

-four holiday parties

 

There it is. 2015 was a pretty mixed-bag, as life often always is. If life were a bag of mixed nuts, I would consider the highlights to be the Brazil nut, obviously, the most awesome nut. Sure, you could go out and buy a tin consisting solely of Brazil nuts, but that would be monotonous, horizontal, unimaginative. And it would probably give you selenium poisoning.

Just get the mixed nuts and share.

Looking forward to a new year of sharing mixed nuts and having fun with friends, both on and off the track!

 

 

 

 

 

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Hello and Goodbye

The other night at track, a friend of mine was wearing a singlet with some writing on the front: “Run Alone”.

Or so I thought.

If you knew this guy, you’d understand why I wouldn’t give a second thought to him wearing a shirt that announced such a dryly humourous and hardcore imperative to act in solitude.

What it actually said was “Run Aloha” and was presumably from Hawaii. Since then I’ve had my once in every four years appointment with an optometrist.

But back when I thought I saw “Run Alone”, it made me think about the benefits and drawbacks of both solitary training and group workouts. On this particular night, the workout was:

1-2x 800m at 3000m race pace/400m at mile race pace

1x1600m at 5k race pace

1x800m at 3000m race pace/400m at mile race pace

At this time, I’m feeling in o-kay shape, not great, but slowly transitioning from recovery mode to building up some mileage and doing a bit of speed work. There are usually 3 or 4 groups that naturally form at the track, based on speed, and I usually squeak by to hang on to one of them, uncomfortably so, but don’t quite fit into the others. That night, I wanted to get in a full and solid workout, without seeing too much burn-out by the end (also, my foot has been feeling funny, not ha-ha funny, so I’m trying be mindful of that dinger). To meet this goal, I knew that I would be more successful starting the workout on my own. My goals were to hit the 800s at 3:00, the 400s at around 1:20-1:22, and the 1600m between 6:05 and 6:10. Even though I went out faster than I thought for the first 800m (2:52), I’m glad I didn’t stick to the usual group since some ran their first one in 2:45 and others were high-2:30s.

Sure, I could’ve tried to stay with them for the benefit of having the others to chase, and maybe I could’ve done one at 2:45, but I didn’t want to get dragged in and eff up the rest of my workout. I guess you could argue that had I gone out with the group, I could’ve stayed with them and shouldn’t put limitations on myself before I even start the workout, but the difference between a 3:00 800m and a 2:45 800m seems like a big one.

So, that night I ran mostly alone with the exception of one tardy Korean joining in and around a couple intervals. But I really wasn’t alone since I had the company and support of the other runners around me in various states of rest and grinding it out.

[More importantly, I’ve learned to keep in mind that awareness in fatigue is key and you’re never alone at the track even if you can’t hear or see the other runners (unless you are actually the only person there); a fundamental fear and constant shoulder-check could save you from being walloped in a split-second by an on-coming sprinter. Perhaps unlike the fear of being alone, this is a legitimate fear.]