"The goal is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we were called to be." -Patricia Deegan

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Second 4k, (one) Second PB

Back to the track last night and there was another 4000 mtr race. After 15 minutes of torture and 1 minute 14 seconds of wanting to vomit, I set a 1 second PB.

If I lose 100 g/wk, I wonder if I can gain 1 second/wk....

Sunday, March 25, 2012

-10 to +5

Before going out to the track on Thursday, I looked back at my best 4k time on the track. 16.05. Right, 96 sec laps or 48 sec per 1/2 lap (easier to stay on track if I watch 200 mtr increments).

Honestly, I was prepared to expect anything. I told myself it might be 1 - 2 min slower.

Beetroot juice was downed 20 min before the race.

Rolf, Silvio (our Italian trail runner visitor) and I lined up with the rest of them and off we charged, for 10 laps of self-inflicted pain. My first lap felt way too hard and I saw it was 93 sec - easy to know that wasn't sustainable. I dropped back to pretty consistent laps after that, hoping to stay close to 98 secs. We were asked to count our own laps and it's actually a bit of a challenge when you're working flat out! Silvio sat just behind me and I think Rolf sat just behind him. We all expected Rolf to take me for the first time on the track - his fitness is higher than ever before.

At lap 6, I heard a move from behind. Rolf came up for a chat. Running beside me for 100 mtrs down the back, he asked a few questions about lap number and time and seemed generally to be loping along, unpuffed. I wanted to hit him. But instead, had to keep playing the mental game of "bluff" as if I felt fine and was happy to have him running beside me (who runs beside a person during a track race?!?)

He finally dropped back.

At lap 8, I come around and guess who's laying on the grass in the infield? I yell out some smart remark about looking for another Transalps partner. Geez, how do you finish 330km if 4k is hard? ;)

In the end, I finish at 16.15, very pleased. 10 seconds slower than my PB. That was acceptable....

Then, preparing for this post, I pulled open my file again to check the date on that other run. I was wrong! I set a PB! By 5 seconds. My other 4k times were 16.20 and 16.32 (which was just after a 5k tempo and a 2k race).

I love Beetroot juice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3...


Thousand. Metres.

That sounds like a good way to test where my fitness is at. I've built my base up again since the injury and hit over 100km +3000 mtr last week with no worsening of the minor continual nerve/foot issues. And there was so much pretty trail to see!

Now, with the base back, it's time to hit the track and do a 4k "time trial" of sorts and see how it compares to last year's efforts. Oh, it's gonna be sooooo painful. And slooooow. Which means pain for even longer! I'm still 3kg up from competition weight. But I've got the Beet It shot ready (see click through for all my research history and experiments into beetroot juice and ergogenic effects). I need all the help I can get!

Last week I had four great hill runs. On Wednesday Rolf and I got out to do a recce of a PTS half marathon course, so we ran 27k (I ran, Rolf had a bad day and practiced a lot of power walking).

Because it was a race recce, it was top secret stuff, so we ran without company. (Except for that sms after the run reading, "Hey, b, was that you that just left (secretplace)?" Damn. PTS spies!

On Thursday, after missing the usual midweek group run, 6 of us headed out to Bold Park. Rolf was in fine form after his rest-run on Wednesday, so he and another fellow were setting a good pace and there was some sheep-dogging going on to keep the group together. However, an ironic 250 mtrs from the finish, we lost half the pack! A few bonus k later and we were all reunited, eating watermelon in the dark of the carpark, laughing about our mini-adventure.

Saturday, Rolf and I were at it again with PTS stuff - recce'ing the Swissmurdie long course. Naturally, after a long week of work, we opted for the lie-in, which meant an 11 AM start and running in 35 degree peak heat for 3 hrs, sharing the last of the water from my hydration pack 2k from the finish. Why do we never learn? The rest of the day was spent getting the bodies recovered to do a 4hr / 35km run with the group again the following day. More pretty trail, stunning views, brutal heat, and dry hydration packs at the end but this time there was also a waterfall and pool to soak in!

I'll be sure to update after the 4,000 mtr Run of Doom.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

On Pins and Needles

I had a very frightening moment on Tuesday night. I thought I was being a good little recovering ultrarunner, resting my foot/leg for two full days after testing it on the 34+21k outing last Saturday. Tuesday night I did an easy 11k jog. Climbing into bed, the shin lit up for a moment.

It wasn't a "10" - not "Bibbulmun level" pain. But it came with a pain that was in some ways even worse. The mental anguish of thinking I had overdone it and was suddenly back at square one. This compartment syndrome has been unnerving because it never gave traditional warning signs. It just blew. I never got "traditional" compartment syndrome warnings. No pain whilst running. No paresthesia to the anterior compartment (pins and needles in the feet at night when I put them up to rest, but not in the shin and not whilst running or standing).

I still get pins and needles - in the foot - a lot. I mean, it's only been 4 months ;) As I write this, my foot is all a-tingle.

Luckily, I managed to get in to see Ali, my physio the next morning. We decided it didn't sound like compartment syndrome (no pain during running). And the pain was actually on the tib postorior side (not my tib anterior compartment syndrome side). Touching the tib post proved it was incredibly tight.

Then commenced probably the most painful physio session I've had. And I limped out feeling a lot more flexible, actually. And with a theory that all my usual tight spots have been ignored over the past month as we fixated on the foot.

Tomorrow, I'll have a wonderful session with Nathan, my massage therapist, and he will surely try to outdo Ali's work in pain provision.

So, I backed off just slightly this week, opting for the 33k long run (ha ha). It was superb. Four of us did the long option, starting in midday 38 degree heat, climbing two "peaks" on the Bibbulmun Track. After 20k, we picked up 7 others who joined us for a return run back over the peaks, as the sun set.

This weekend would normally have been the biweekly PTS race, but we didn't have a mid-March event. So that's allowed me to get some good long runs in lately, improving my own fitness base.

I'm still so far from being race fit, I'd need binoculars to even try to glimpse it! But I'm having heaps of fun, thankful to be out there, pushing myself when I can. And I've been studying Barefoot Ken Bob's book over my morning chia and Udo's Oil. There's some great science in that book from the Harvard crew and some really good advice, too. He actually cautions people not to start with transitioning from runners to minimalist FiveFinger-type shoes but to go 'cold turkey' with barefooting. He writes, "Those who advocate using Vibrams as a "transition shoe" to running barefoot have it backward; you should run barefoot as a transition to wearing Vibrams!" Barefoot Ken Bob thinks it's still too easy to run too far (before the body has adapted) and too sloppy, as you have a couple mm of rubber "dulling" all your foot sensors.

So I'm trying to get around a bit more barefoot, following his suggestions. I didn't grow up with Australian barefoot feet and mine are really wimpy Canadian feet! I certainly have lots of sensors!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Boomerang (she threw herself as far as she could, but still came back)

Last weekend I ran away from home. Well, no, it wasn’t the same impulsive 3-year-old who took her paper bag down to the corner, with mum pensively peering out from behind the living room curtains.

It was a planned escape, very befitting of a 40-something year old. My paper bag consisted of two panniers on a beautifully constructed BMW GS 650. And without mum to stop me, I was able to cross that first intersection on my own (after looking both ways, of course).

The ride down was the start of what my brain needed. Rush hour on a freeway long weekend. I exercised my ability to be in the moment for over an hour, weaving in and out of traffic with those wide panniers, feathering the clutch and brake. (Thanks everyone who moved over for me so I could squeeze through - it's so bloody hot wearing all that safety gear and not moving! A/C only works while moving on a motorcycle!)

I calculated when I thought I would run out of petrol and guessed where there might be a servo. I succumbed yet again to google maps’ pathetic mapping of Western Australia, finding myself going west of Donnybrook into the setting sun when I knew Nannup (my destination) was most definitely south. Darkness settled in and I settled in to a slower pace, alert to the roos I could see with my peripheral vision.

I stopped in Nannup long enough to see the buzz of folk festival excitement and grab a takeaway dinner. Looking for something quickly (the farmstay hosts were waiting), the stalls on offer had non-Bernadette-friendly foods. I settled for the baked potato, but had to stop them from adding the cheese, butter, sour cream, AND bacon (seriously, all four?!? Could there be anything more fatty to add to a poor potato?) A bit of cheese was plenty flavourful and matched the calories I burned sitting on a bike for 5 hours. Potato in tank bag, I travelled the last 20km to my destination. A “Canadian cedar” loft cabin on a farm. There is something special about waking up to see a place for the first time.

I decided to run to town for the festival. Naturally, I didn’t want to run on the highway. My brain needed more adventure. And solitude. I needed to break life down to its essentials. I took a photo of a few maps and grabbed all important worldly possessions.

I contemplated that as I was running along deserted tracks for the next 3.5 hrs, snaking just north of the Blackwood River. What was essential?

For clothing, I had my RaceReady gear, the lightest and hardest wearing. The pockets held a Visa card, bank card, driver’s license, and all my cash…$15. I had my Injinji socks, Roclites, and dirty girl gaiters. Compressport calf guards, not just for the compression, but for the bonus tick protection. A light cap for sun protection.

In my Nathan 2 ltr hydration pack...water, maps, compression bandage, flint (surely I couldn't be out all night freezing, but it’s so light it just stays there), bit of duct tape, spare batteries, and LED Lensor H7 headlamp.

I had my long sleeve Montane shirt for evening, should I get caught out in the cold at night. I had 900 calories of fuel, a smart phone and Garmin 310. And a buff for wiping the sweat and putting over my hat-head in town if I wanted (oh, the vanity!).

I had a tiny bottle of spray sunscreen for re-applications and a little ‘chapstick.’ My fuel included Hammer Perpetuem solids, my favourite.

For the runners out there - have you ever run with a feeling that you are purging yourself?

People ask what ultra runners are running “from.” Well, it’s not just “from.” It’s not that simple. Yes, I was running “from” … the to-do lists, mediocrity, and the mundane.

And I was running “to” … the simple girl I used to know, the hippie, the Buddhist, the carefree one.

And I was just running. Because I can :) Watch the 3 year olds at a park. Do you think they are running from anything?

I ran 34km to get to Nannup. I arrived 2km after running out of water. The first stall I saw when I ran over the bridge into town was selling lemonade. It was the most brilliant taste. Thank you, Mr. Lemonade seller, for being there.

Four hours later I was back on the road, taking the most direct route back to my “Canadian” cabin this time. I filled the hydration pack and stopped at the servo to get a yoghurt for brekkie and an instant boil-up pasta’n’sauce combo for dinner (the lightest, smallest thing I could find). They had tiny, fresh, non-sprayed peaches by the till. I got 5 for $2.50. I ran 20km with that little plastic bag of groceries beating like a metronome off the back of my pack. There was something utterly peaceful about carrying my world on my back.

At the 20km mark, as I turned onto the last 2km dirt road stretch, the plastic bag broke and the yoghurt hit the ground. It survived well enough for morning. I just had to carry things under my arm after that (shoulda wrapped them in the buff, silly girl!).

My left foot and shin survived, too. No, they aren't normal yet. But they coped without getting worse after 55km of running.

Thanks foot. I needed that.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Third Person Singular

I'm off this WA long weekend to hippie camp. I'm taking my lovely Greta (motorcycle) and driving 3 1/2 hours south to a rural folk festival. From there, I hope to get enough distance on "Bernadette" to see her from the third person. Time for a little reflection.

I haven't been liking the latest iteration of Bernadette so much. Or her world. She's still there, I think, just buried underneath a to-do list that's breaking her hippie back.

Let's see who comes home....