Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Grabbing hold before a slip becomes a fall

I've been struggling lately.  Now, I'm grabbing hold.

After Calgary 70.3, I took most of August off.  It was the right decision.  I needed a break from the routine and I needed to really want to get back at it.  It worked.

When I went into September, I was excited and ready to go.  Kindergarten year!  Plenty of easily accessed childfree training time!  A 10K in a few weeks, a couple half marathons.  A weekend trip to Arizona in November.  I was prepared to have a great fall season.

And then it didn't quite go how I planned.  The first few weeks were good.  Things were clicking, and I was getting back into it.  How glorious it was to be able to just run again, and not be afraid anymore about whether my foot was actually better.  I no longer felt the need to constantly think about it.  No more niggles from there.

Then I did my first race: The Melissa's 10K, one that I never did get a race report up for.  (It actually is half written, but I never finished it.)

Here's the short story:

Last year, I did this race in just over an hour, so I decided I could do it in just under an hour this year.  Never mind the fact that I spent months either injured or on reduced activity while recovering from that injury...

I pushed myself from the start, and it's a hard course.  You run up a mountain, literally.  At the half way point, I was suffering, but by then you are going downhill, so I figured I could make up time.  At the 7 km mark, I was still pushing.  At the 8km mark, I puked.  Yes, 2 km too soon.  Then I finished it off at a much reduced pace, crossing the finish line about 5 minutes past the hour mark.

The race itself wasn't what did me in though.  Interestingly, I was okay with my finishing time.  I had one of those "look how far I've come" moments.  I reflected on my first 10k, not even 3 years ago, when I finished in a hard fought 1:06.  To be able to finish a much tougher course, on a bad day, in 1:05, really is an accomplishment.

It was training after that did me in.

Because after that race, I started to push myself to run at the pace that I used to be able to run at.  We talk about competition and comparisons all the time.  The only person you should compare yourself to is yourself, right?  And that's what I was doing.  I wasn't trying to keep up with my 20 year old track star self.  I was simply trying to keep up with myself from a year or two ago.

And I couldn't do it.  I'd start out most of my runs too fast, fade badly and finish, frustrated that, once again, I just couldn't hold the pace.  I was falling apart.

Meanwhile a lot has been going on in my family life.  Not bad.  Just changes.  And, quite frankly, I prefer stability.  (This is all a blog post for another time.)

I couldn't figure out how to right myself, how to get back on track.  Finally, I had a good long chat with Angie, my coach.

Getting back on track:

No more pace on my garmin for now.  I am still using it, but the dominant number I'm watching on it is my heart rate.  Pace is recorded, but it isn't displayed.

Getting my food back in line.  I slipped there too.  It's a symptom for me, when things start coming apart, but it can become a disease in and of itself.  Track what I eat.  Base my meals on protein and vegetables.  I still eat plenty of carbs, but the key for me is not to base my food choices around them.  Cut out the sugar.

I've had some good runs.  And a good half marathon.  It was a really challenging course too.  It would have been so easy to blow up on the many hills, but I held an even effort for the race, rather then an even pace.  It let me finish strong.

I haven't felt like I'm quite there yet.  And, tonight, while participating in a spin class with my team, I realized the missing element.  Reaching out to my support structure.  Blogging about my training.  Finding opportunities to train with friends.  I am, and always will be, primarily a solo triathlete.  The time I train alone helps me find my centre, but I also need to run with a friend sometimes or suffer next to each other on trainers.

Deb Tris is back.