Saturday, May 16, 2009

Return to the source

It was such a nice day Friday that I decided to extend my workday a bit so I could squeeze more running into my lunch time. With a goal of doing 12k, I decided that the perfect way to end my training for the half marathon coming up next week would be to return to where it all started.

My passion for running started when a colleague of mine wanted to get into running at lunch time and run a small loop around Leamy Lake which was right next to my workplace back then. I was biking to work (a short haul compared to now at only 7km) and decided that the running could diversify my training. Little did I know that going out once or twice a week with my work buddies would turn into a hobby and then a passion.

On our slow runs around the lake, we would often see a much faster colleague zoom by us effortlessly while we would stop every now and then for a walking break. We would often ask him for tips about how to train and what to expect under certain conditions. I remember when he came back from running a marathon one year (I think this was before we even started running), he couldn't come in to work for a day or two, his feet were so painful. He was my running hero. One day, this colleague told us about what was then called the ING Ottawa Marathon (now simply Ottawa Marathon since they do not have a sponsor this year). My colleague and I decided to jump in and sign up for the Half Marathon, a 21.1km distance (yes, the .1 matters, especially then!). Not really knowing what to expect for my first road race, I was blown away. So many fit people. So much camaraderie and high spirits. Such a runner's high after crossing the finish line even if I did horrible at 2h14. I later found out my real "chip" time was 2h08. Not bad for a first time but for some reason I was shooting for a finish under 2 hours. Even if you don't meet your goal, your first time is always a guaranteed Personal Best (PB in runner talk).

Later that year, I signed up for a fall half marathon and you can clearly see that my summer in training was not misspent with a finish of 1h47 (gun: 1h46). I knew better what to expect and I knew better how to train. I had even started running to work instead of cycling to get more miles in. Since then, I have participated in the Ottawa half-marathon every year, even last year when I was recovering from a nasty plantar fasciitis.

So yesterday, when I went for my last training run before tapering, I thought of all those lunch time training runs I did around Leamy Lake. I thought how our group of two grew in size to involve up to 5 or 6 individuals, depending on the days. I thought how much of a positive change running brought to my life and how, just like a drop of water in a calm pond, it spreads infectiously to those around me. Unfortunately, I learned yesterday that my colleague was down with an injury and would not be able to run for quite a while. So I think about him and hope for a speedy recovery so he can at least return to a regular life, if not a running routine.

So my run around Leamy Lake was pretty peaceful and uneventful. I never believe how much forest and greenspace is available to us in the National Capital Region. I didn't have to use the streets once except to cross them twice on my way back.
The speed profile is a bit dissapointing with a slower split, but I was trying to pace myself not to go too fast in anticipation for the pacing I would need to do for the race. Turns out I overpaced myself letting it slip too low. With the energy I had in the tank, I think that I can safely pace myself at 4:45/km for the race and still have some left over for a final sprint, giving me a chance at a sub 1h40 finish (Am I setting myself up for too much??)
So there we go. Now the tapering starts. I will post my tapering strategy in the next few days because a lot of people have been asking me how I transition from training to racing and I'm not even sure myself if my strategy is the best, so you will be able to comment on it.

Ariane Moffatt's Aquanaute
and Chopin Experience Disk 1 in the mix.

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