Monday, February 11, 2013

Lower Standards

Friday in Ontario was a snow day. One big giant snow globe snow day. Our driveway and sidewalk got shovelled three times and it wasn't enough. The snow was light and fluffy and hardly seemed to be falling but fall it did. Over 30cm of snow fell in about 12 hours. The most snow we've had in one day in years.

It was beautiful and I loved watching it fall as I worked from home - my kitchen table acting as a makeshift office.

The timing of the storm was pretty good too. On Friday morning I got up to swim but was half-expecting having to shovel instead. We had been warned (by every radio station, newspaper and television station) that a storm was coming. The roads were clear at 5am so I headed to the pool. By the time I left at 7am, the roads were awful. I headed home and stayed there.

I shovelled a lot of snow. My legs, back and arms were aching after the first bout. They were downright sore after the last session. As I looked at my car, the snow coming up past the wheels, I was beginning to wonder if my Saturday morning 20k run was going to happen. The snow stopped around 5pm and I hoped it was enough time for the plows to work their magic.

We didn't set any alarms and enjoyed a luxurious sleep in until 7am. "I'm going to try a run" Doug announced.

I was worried because if I tried it but only managed, say, 10k, I wouldn't be in any shape to try 20k on Sunday. I also knew that if I prepared (carb-wise) for 20k but didn't get anywhere near that, I'd be fighting highs all day.

I decided to lower my standards. I would run for time, not distance. I would try to head down Pelham Road, which would most likely be relatively clear since it was a bus route, and aim for an hour of running. Turn around and head home again. Distance didn't matter. Just time spent running.

With the number 20 no longer hanging over my head, I headed out in my Yaktrax. Our road was pretty awful but it's mercifully short. Within minutes I was on the main streets which were wet and kinda slushy but surprisingly clear. It was still a bit of a slog but much better than I expected it to be.

I did 3k in exactly 20 minutes. Some quick math told me that, if things continued, I'd run 9k in an hour which means I'd run 18k if I ran for two hours. I was ok with that.

I trotted along, not caring about pace or distance. I spotted deer prints in the snow. I watched the odd hawk swoop down looking for breakfast. I was the only runner in a winter wonderland. At 9k, I reached a crossroads, literally. If I kept going, I would head home along a route that was exactly 7k - bringing me to a total of 16k. Then I'd have to loop around the block if I wanted to add distance. I hate adding distance when I'm a few feet from home. I always prefer to add it at the beginning or middle of a run so that the final five kilometres are familiar.

On a whim I turned left and ran two kilometres. I turned around and ran back to the 9k spot. Except now it was the 13k spot. Meaning that I had just committed myself to 20k. So much for running for time.

I didn't have my glucometer on me because it was too cold out and would have frozen. I felt fine but knew I wouldn't be fine for another 7k. I sucked on a frozen GU which tasted wonderfully like chocolate mint ice cream. I sipped some slushy Nuun. I felt surprisingly energetic and I carried on.

Hours after the run was over, I am still shocked at how easy the 20k felt. Twenty never feels easy - it's just too far for comfort for me. Anything over 16k is a slog. This time, despite the snowy roads, the cold, the North wind and the post-shovel aches, it felt like 10k. Not 20k. I didn't even hurt afterwards and had enough energy to help dig my car out and shovel the driveway a final time.

A good 20k time for me is 2 hours and 10 minutes. I ran this one in 2:15

Sometimes lowering standards works out quite well.


  1. All of that running and energy left over to dig out your car? Can't complain about that!

  2. Nice work! Maybe taking the pressure off of having to run a distance made the mental aspect of running 20km easier? Either way, sweet run!