Saturday, June 29, 2013

In which I get my body back

It's back. My body I mean. I don't know where it went but for awhile the body I was taking on runs was just dragging ass. I would go to the track fully intending to do 5 X 1 km at around 3.40-3.45 per km and inevitably (and this happened at least three times) I would instead run the first km in 4.05 or slower, wheeze, feel horrible and then decide to do a 5-6 km tempo instead which I would complete in about 4:10-4:15 pace. No matter what I tried, rest, hydration, upping my asthma inhaler, I seemed to be in this rut where my quality sessions consisted a 20-25 minute tempo. After running 2 10 km races in a row at 40:00 minutes exactly, I resigned myself to deciding that I just could not run the times I used to while working full time, caring for two children, getting older and getting fatter. My days of running the kinds of times I wanted to were over I decided.

Then, a glimmer of hope. I volunteered to be the 18:30 rabbit for a 5 km time trial. I thought that surely I could eek out a mile or 2 km at 18:30 pace and it seemed like these ladies mostly needed someone to stop them from going out too fast; not going too fast being my speciality right now, I decided to step up! I lasted 1.4 km at 18:30 pace and then I could feel the ladies impatiently breathing down my neck so I pulled out to lane 2 and encouraged them to go by all the while realizing that although I could not hold this pace for 5 km, all things considered I was not feeling too badly off. I deliberately slowed down for a few laps and then came back alive in the last km for a final time of 19:03 (3:41, 3:47, 3:53, 3:54, 3:46). Encouraging, especially given that there was a smog warning in effect at the time. Smog being the ultimate downer for us asthmatic canaries in the mine.

Then today I got a rare window of opportunity to run at a reasonable hour (7.00 am) where I was not too constrained for time and so could warm-up properly. Cautiously optimistic, I headed to the track to try some tentative mile repeats. Over the past 8 weeks, I have managed one mile repeat work-out: 6:23, 6:30, 6:30, 6:22 and that nearly slayed me. Today, with the smog lifted, cool temperatures, and a slight breeze encouraging me, I stepped up to the line and ran a 6:03. Like it was nothing. Like I was on a picnic and jogging back to the car for the forgotten lemonade. I thought surely the wheels would fall off but no, a modest 2 minute rest later, another 6:03. Then 5:54, 5:59 and finally 5:52. It really, truly feels like someone else lent me their body for this work-out. I don't know where this work-out came from but it is my mental gift of the month. So encouraging. I haven't run those times for over 3 years. I know now my recent sluggishness is not because I am older (I am), not because I am fatter (I am), not because I am training less than I used to (I am) but probably due to sleep deprivation and oxygen deprivation (bad asthma days). And those types of deprivations are fleeting. I just have to find the right air quality day, when i have had a good night's sleep and I can run my times again. I believe! I know I will eventually slow down, it is the fate of the aging runner (and in runner years I am in my fifties or sixties given that I have now been training hard and racing for 25 years) but this morning's work-out was such a gift; it tells me I have a few 18 minute 5 kms left to run!


  1. Yay! So happy to read this. Now to time a race perfectly....:)

  2. Glad you posted so I can say today: Happy Canada Day! (Now please take back Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines"... and Carly Rae Jepsen, and Justin Bieber... and William Shatner...)

  3. That is fantastic! Hoping you and your family are enjoying your Canada Day celebration. :-)

  4. Oh Steve, give them a chance and you'll like them maybe