Saturday, 31 August 2013

#108 You Like Me Too Much

August has now come and gone which means it is now the (unofficial) end of summer. The same cannot be said for my Summer Run Streak which is still going strong at 95 days. I'm now almost afraid I won't be able to end this stupid streak and yet I promised myself that once I hit 100, I'd opt to take the next available break, which is likely to be the day before the Milton Half, coming up on Sunday 15 September. Obviously, I also plan to take a few days off during the taper for Chicago which is now only 6 weeks away!!!

But let's not get ahead of ourselves and instead look back on the month that has been.

Like those that proceeded it, the month of August has seemed to have flown by in a mostly hot and humid haze. Although there was some much appreciated cooler weather for some of the first half of the month, the second half has been brutal and I feel like the past 2 weeks have been at least 30 degrees (with the humidity that is) each and every day. That has made for some harder than I'd hoped for running and racing.

I'm pretty proud of this month, mostly for the following reasons. During the 31 days of August I ran a total of 40 times (i.e. doubles on 9 days) and set a new one-month mileage personal best by covering 701kms (my previous best was 645km earlier this year in March). I also ran 2 races and set 2 new PBs. First was the "Rock the Road 10k" in London, ON on Sunday the 18th where I ran almost entirely on my own from start to finish and set a slight (15sec) PB of 33:25 (3:20/k) which placed me 9th overall (and 6th in my age group Haha). Then, only 4 days later on Thursday the 22nd, I travelled to the Toronto Islands to take part in the 'Sunset Shuffle 6k' and having never run that race distance before, set a default PB of 19:29 (3:15/k), which also happened to be just good enough to secure me the top spot overall. Hooray for winning!

Mini race report(s): I'll admit that I wasn't a huge fan of the London race. The 9:30 start was way too hot but was apparently set so as to minimize the time between the finish and when the beer garden is allowed to open (misplaced priorities perhaps?). There was also (essentially) no water on the course (Okay, there were 3 aid stations but the water was being served in useless shot-sized cups). The course itself, despite being sold as an IAAF sanctioned distance that is "flat and fast" actually featured what seemed to be endless gradually rolling hills which followed a near suicidal downhill first km (like we runners don't already go out fast enough!). My final complaint was that registration for the whole thing cost $60+ which I feel is absurd for a 10k race (but seems to be the going standard for road races these days). There was however some good prize money for top finishers (Congrats to Toronto's Rachel Hannah for winning the women's race) as well as free beer and pizza. But that wasn't enough for this race to be added to my (quickly growing) 'Do Not Race' (DNR) list. But enough about what I didn't like...

What I did like and was massively impressed by is the work of Steve Metzger and the Longboat Roadrunners, for their efforts in putting on the Sunset Shuffle 6k. Although I've helped with the organization of this race in past years, this was the first time running it. And what more could you ask for? The course is flat, the race is cheap, and there is cold beer at the finish. What could be better?! Oh ya, Daphne's cookies! Thanks so much to everyone who makes this fabulous 'no frills' race happen. I now understand why it truly is "Toronto's best kept secret."

And so there you have it; the month of August in a nutshell. 2 races which account for 16k and another 685k for training. Ha, no wonder sometimes I wonder why I/we do it?

On that note, the only other thing I wanted to share, and this will seem elitist and self-celebratory (you knew it was coming), is that training to be the best you can be is really friggen hard!

Earlier this week, I met some of the BLT guys to run what seemed an impossible workout (Spoiler: It was!). It was 3 intervals: 3 then 2 than 1 mile (4.8-3.2-1.6k) and was meant to be run at 8k pace (Note: that's 9.6k at 8k pace) with 1k easy running in between (ultimately I altered it to be 5k-3k-1.6k... because who the hell cares about a 4.8 or 3.2k time?!). It also happened to be fairly hot and really humid along the MGT at 630pm when we started so there was every reason to give up before we even began...

But in the end, we warmed up, did the strides, suffered through some intervals, and one way or another the workout got done (I mean I assume that it did. I did it pretty much alone but figure the other guys did it too).

And the result wasn't too bad either: I hit pace in the first interval running 5k in 16:25 (3:17/k). That in itself was pretty impressive to me (I've only twice ever run faster than that in a race) and so I seriously thought about quitting after the first one thinking there was no way I could possibly run another. But I did! And although it was a bit slower (3k in 10:05; 3:21/k), I still got it done. I even managed to more or less hit the target pace for the final mile (in 5:15; 3:16/k). It was exhilaratingly and totally exhausting at the same time.

So what's the point of this story (aside from maybe bragging a bit)? Well, I'm not entirely sure. Other than to say that the feelings of pride, accomplishment and self-satisfaction that I experienced when I finished that run were hugely motivational and seemed to justify all the time and effort I dedicate to this seemingly insignificant pursuit of self-improvement. And that feeling in and of itself, of having done something really difficult and demanding and yet entirely for yourself and your own personal satisfaction and enjoyment... well that's pretty much all that matters at the end of the day. And that's why I'm going to continue to do it no matter what I may be sacrificing and what others say is foolish. And maybe, just maybe, this is why I love running (ie training and competing) so damn much. Because I can make myself feel amazing simply by pushing myself to constantly be better even when it sucks and I so badly want to quit or give up!

Okay. I'm done (at least for now). I hope you all had a good August and a great summer. Personally I love the Fall so am more than happy to see the start of September. Hopefully it brings some more running friendly weather with it. I wish you all well with your respective endeavours; running, training or otherwise. Happy and healthy running!

PS: Someone told me the other day that I use a lot of brackets when I write (like this for example). Now I see that I do!

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