I pushed my body and it pushed back.
Saturday, Doug and I drove to the Niagara Parkway to run 30k. We did an out and back route which allowed me to run 15k of the race route. Enough to give me a good sense of what race day might feel like.
The course, at least that stretch, is lovely. It's flat which is a major bonus. The Niagara River runs along one side and huge, beautiful homes line the other side. The Niagara Falls skyline looms far off in the distance - like a beacon guiding us home.
I decided to pretend it was race day. Normally, when I stop to check my sugar, eat a snack etc etc - I stop my watch. I stand still. I do what I need to do.
Sadly, on race day, they do not stop the clock for chronic diseases. Seconds tick by and, while I'm not expecting to quality for Boston, I would love to finish in under five hours. Which means I need to keep moving forward. So I decided not to stop my watch during the run. Instead I would walk briskly while checking my sugar and eating my snacks.
Finally, unlike some runners, my race pace is pretty much my normal pace. I do not pick it up on race day and adrenaline does not push me to run faster. I am very much a one pace wonder. I decided to see how hard it would be to run according to my 'race day plan'. My plan (which may or may not work but it's a guide for me to follow) is to run a pace of roughly 6:30 per kilometre during the race. I don't know if I can sustain that the whole way but I'm hoping to be able to do it for the first four hours. That should get me to about 36k in four hours meaning that I only need to run 6k in the last hour to meet my goal. That should (hopefully) allow time for unforeseen problems...
So, based on my plan, I figure every hour I will run approximately 9k (including one hourly stop for diabetes maintenance).
Back to Saturday. We headed to Niagara Falls just after 7am. I leaned my head against the window as we drove thinking "I can't believe I have to run for 3 1/2 hours" over and over again. When you have to run but haven't started yet, it's best not to think too much about what you're about to do.
We parked the car, topped up our water and hopped around trying to warm up. It was cold! Then, with a high five and a barely concealed look of mild panic (from me), we started running. I took it easy and tried to find my groove. It took about 8k but I found it. At 9k I checked my watch. It said 56 minutes. I slowed to a brisk walk, checked my sugar, ate a date and drank my water. Exactly 60 minutes. Perfect!
I kept up the pace and felt pretty good. By 16k I was getting a little tired but the thought that I could slow to a brisk walk in 2k was enough to keep me moving. Eighteen kilometres = exactly 2 hours of running. Crazy!
I decided not to stop at 27k because I only had to do three more and didn't want to lose momentum. I did peak at my watch though and discovered (with surprise) that I hit 27k in 3 hours. Now, I didn't stop so I would have probably hit it at 3:05:00 if I had but still, pretty good.
Unbelievably it was 3:21:00 on my Garmin when I trotted in to the parking lot. Done! My fastest 30k ever and I didn't stop my watch when I walked.
I was exhausted. I drank my chocolate milk and leaned my head on the window as we drove home thinking "I can't believe I ran for 3 1/2 hours" over and over again. As soon as it's over, it's almost impossible to imagine that I moved my body that far.
I proved that my race day plan is actually within the realm of reality. That did wonders for my confidence. But it knocked my socks off. We came home, stretched, showered and ate lunch. That was it. I fell into bed and fell sound asleep for over two hours. When I woke up I felt pretty good but after walking around for a bit, I discovered that my left ankle was not happy - at all. My ankle bone hurt - kinda where my shin usually hurts except it felt different. Putting pressure on it hurt, climbing stairs hurt more.
A few ibuprophen, a few stretches and a bike ride on Sunday helped loosen things up. It's still there but much better. Hopefully after Monday's day of rest things will be back to normal. We'll find out soon enough on Tuesday's run.
I pushed my body and it pushed back.
C'mon legs - we only have a few more weeks left until race day. I promise I will give you a few weeks off after we run 42k. I won't make you run one step, get up before 6am or do anything you don't feel like doing. Hold on - we're almost there.