It's now been more than two weeks since running the Scotiabank Marathon and while I initially was eager to get back into the thick of things for fear of losing fitness, I have thoroughly enjoyed the down-time with the added rest and relaxation (well sorta). I irrationally wanted to run on the Monday and Tuesday post race, but knew my mind was winning the battle with my beaten down body. I was able to hold off the urge but went into Wednesday knowing that I would again test my legs and I was ripe with anticipation. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a terrible evening with cold rain and winds so the fact that we were only doing about 10k actually came as a relief. Despite feeling some knee pain for the first time just before heading out on the run, it went smoothly and comfortably, but clearly I was still in need of further recovery. Thursday and Friday came and went without running and I only forced myself to run for 30 or so minutes before refereeing an afternoon of intramural soccer games at U of T on Saturday. I couldn't be bothered to get up and out Sunday morning (partly due to fully enjoying a Saturday night for the first time in months!), but did end up enjoying a long slow run in the late afternoon totalling about 16k. That put my mileage, first week after Scotia, at 32k.
The second week was similarly conservative with runs on Tuesday (a beautiful 13k run through the hills around Angus Glen); Wednesday (yet but another wet and cold one on the Lakeshore in which I foolishly tried some tempo (4:00/k) for about 15min and again my knee pain flared up and forced me to slow down; 14k total); Friday (the beer mile; it doesn't really count!); Saturday (8k easy) and then Sunday, in which I was feeling my legs again and did 12k of tempo at around 3:50/k as part of a 18k 'long' run. That put my second week at about 55k.
So the beer mile. An event we've been trying to get done for the better part of 6 months. It happened at Riverdale Park at 5:30 since we were losing daylight. It almost didn't happen when I purchased a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon only to discover a few minutes later that it was only 4.9% (the beer mile must be done using a minimum of 5% alcohol beer). We headed back to the beer store and grabbed some Bud instead and then rushed to the track hoping not to be too late. Most of the guys and gals I knew from Longboat, but there were also a handful of others who knew Johanna (the unofficial organizer). We warmed up with a few easy laps and I tried to pysch myself up for the task at hand. I used to think that the mile alone was tough. At quarter to 6, we (about 15 participants) gathered at the starting line and received our final instructions. Then, on the count of three, it began… The first step is to down a can of beer (at least 355ml). The first one went down fairly easy. The second one with some slight difficulty. It was the third one that caused problems. The alcohol was settling in fast (having not eaten since noon) and I am not a good drinker to begin with (I'm all about endurance NOT speed). I think I tried to make myself vomit at one point but couldn't do it. Finally I forced it down and headed out on my penultimate lap. I don't really remember much about the actual running of the mile since it's not very fast and your mind is firmly on the drinking aspect of the event. When I made it back to the transition (drinking) zone, I knew that this last beer would not go down easy, so I simply tried to take small sips in order not to vomit and thus not have to run an extra lap. I'll admit that I definitely spit up some pretty frothy stuff during my third beer so probably should have been penalized with an extra lap or DQ'ed outright had there been more race officials or had I maintained my integrity (the alcohol wiped that clear). I certainly didn't set any records on the day so I guess it really doesn't matter in the end (others might disagree). The final beer eventually was consumed and I was thinking I'd try to run the last lap hard. It didn't happen; I was drunk! My finishing time was 11min something, so pretty much no significance. This is the one running event where just finishing actually means something (and yes, I am now indicating that merely finishing a marathon means absolutely nothing...anyone can do it!). Of particular significance and worthy of mention was the spectacular performance of one Melinda Campbell who finished fourth overall and beat me by well over a minute. She's quite a catch. Wesley (who is as Irish as they come) finished first in a time of 7:10 and Doyle not too far behind in 7:50. Fair play to all participants; this event is among the hardest I've ever experienced. The fun didn't end there on the track; that was merely the beginning. We eventually made our way back to Casa Byrne Campbell (the CBC; which seems to be throwing weekly and wonderful parties) for some post-drinking drinking, and finally to a bar (whose name now eludes me) for even more drinking. Yup, post-marathon recovery is definitely rough!
I was only slightly hung-over the next morning when I had to referee a 10am intramural game but luckily it was defaulted so I took a short nap instead. The rest of the weekend went by in a blur that saw some crazy Halloween costumes (not from me), fine dining and re-invigorated running. On Monday, Halloween, we carved a pumpkin and I ate plenty of candy!
Now it's Tuesday and this weekend is set to showcase a number of Hamilton races as well as the Angus Glen Half which some close Longboater's are also doing and gunning for PB's. I have volunteered (ie committed) to pace the half in 1:30 (4:15/k) which will be a struggle to stay on pace what with the generous downhill located from 5 until 10k (holding back will be the biggest challenge). I am also extremely tempted to 'race' the 10k on Saturday as I am again feeling fit and fresh but would likely not be able to muster anything spectacular and may well end up compromising my ability to do the Half the next day. I'm hoping that some friends, with much more sense and experience than myself, can talk me out of it. Canadian running sensation, Reid Coolsaet, is planning to also run the 10k and had indicated that he will do it in a cool and controlled 40min (a literal walk in (Confederation) Park for him) so it would be awesome to say that I could beat him in a race.
Needless to say, the past two weeks post-marathon have been interesting. With no need (or desire) to run nearly as much mileage, there was plenty of extra time and energy for other things, which had sadly been ignored for far too long. There is already talk and excitement of the upcoming training cycle which won't begin until mid-January but will require a solid base building/maintenance phase, and this is enough to temper my temptation to run fast again this year. Next year will be a good one in terms of running (key races include the Robbie Burns 8k, the Chili Half, ATB and a Spring marathon TBD) so it is now more important than ever, to enjoy these "down" weeks and take care of the body (and the mind) so it's ready when it all starts up again (A continuation of commitment or return to relapse?!).