Monday, 8 August 2011

St John's vacation over and back to Montreal

I took some time off from writing but not from running. It was a busy two weeks. First things first, a summary of the Tely 10, which I ran two weeks ago. I was excited to come in second with a nine second PB of 52:27, a minute behind Colin Fewer. There was some good competition this year with Grant Handrigan just behind me (he beat me last year; seems we take turns passing one another) and Fewer took home the prize for the seventh consecutive time. One of the nice things about the Tely is that since the Telegram newspaper is the main sponsor, it obviously gets considerable coverage in the paper. This meant even my 'lowly' second place got a few lines of interview Q&A in the Monday edition (mostly asking me about how the race went and what I was doing in St. John's). Any interview is a bonus; you feel like a real athlete. A lot of papers wouldn't think to mention a lowly road race let alone ask the opinions of even lowlier runners! I guess with 84 runnings of the Tely, it's building a considerable history behind it.

My opinion of the race was very positive (I really like the permanent mile markers)... except for the missing baggage bus snafu that caused many of us to shiver at the finish line frantically looking for our stuff. The weather conditions were less than ideal, with some rain and headwinds approaching 24 knots (Newfoundlanders are big on the nauticalisms). This did not lead to many PBs all-around. Colin's time was 90 seconds slower than last year, and Kate Vaughn, women's repeat winner from last year, ran almost two minutes slower. I'll consider my nine seconds of improvement a decent accomplishment under the circumstances. Clearly Colin has been stealing the show since 2005, and given he's a few years older than me (his 34 to my 29), that gives me confidence to look ahead at least another half decade to better times (at least for the longer races, which is all I really wanted).

The rest of the trip was also pretty eventful. The day after the race we (me, my girlfriend and her parents) went to Twillingate, home of the famed Auk winery. Perhaps you have not heard of it. It makes wine out of every berry except grapes. Kinda cool. Also cool is getting to sample all 20 varieties of their wine for only $3 (not a typo). We bought a few bottles and they will be consumed at a yet to be decided occasion. The weather held decent for the rest of the week where we saw Great Big Sea at the George Street Festival. Regarding the George Street fest: You pay a lump sum and get to watch music AND drink on the street. This second novelty was slightly more appealing when I was a tad younger. But you do get the sense of being at one big crazy party.

Other events included more George Street festing, hiking, watching a really good version of Hamlet playing on Signal Hill (it ran at less than two hours, sans intermission; Shakespeare would have approved), and hosting an engagement party where future family got to sample my recipes for chili and cranberry walnut bread. That was the first week. The second was actually busier (e.g. wedding planning, three days of folk fest, more George street, Regatta day, hosting friend out of town, another engagement party, more hiking, watching movies). In the second week the weather was apparently the worst they've had in years (rain is normal, but not rain and 11C with gale-force winds). The whole city was acting apologetic to all the tourists. (It's not your fault Newfoundland!)

Between all these activities, which thankfully didn't require a ton of walking (except the hiking), and even with the bad weather, I actually managed to run quite a lot. The week following the Tely I was still in recovery mode (10 miles does take a piece out of you), but I managed to run probably 80-ish miles and do some light workouts. I don't like to quote exact values, partly because they really depend on the circumstances like wind, hills, and the pace of the day, but I knew I was breaking new ground. More mileage wasn't the goal in itself. I just ran whenever I felt like it, made sure that I was paying attention to how I felt, and rested as needed. But apparently my body was adapting well to the extra running, so the second week I ran even more, and I may possibly have broken 100 miles.

But who cares how many miles I ran exactly? What really mattered to me was finding my stride; running more without hurting more is a good way to confirm this. Of course right now I can 'feel' little things like my right IT band and my left tendon. Though they are not painful they could become so if I don't react right away to changing circumstances. Ignoring injuries is a sure-fire way to ruin my October marathon plan. I want to run healthy. That's also why I've been eating as much as I need to feel full, and I can tell you Newfoundland is the perfect place for that. Calorie restriction is a fool's errand, and I can't imagine how you avoid an eventual whole-body failure or serious illness. If I want to thin out, I'm doing it by running more, not eating less. And if any pain comes up, I'll be using the pool again. I'll probably devote a whole entry to pool running, because I notice how little it is discussed by anyone outside the elites and older ladies doing weekly Aqua Jogs. Why aren't the rest of us (and > 90% of running books) discussing this handy tool more often?

I'm heading back to Montreal this evening, planning to run a second time tonight (it's going to be a late one..). I'm actually writing this in the Halifax airport, though their wireless is somewhat lacking (maxed-out number of wifi users apparently). I'll be possibly running the 5k Montreal Endurance next week, August 17th. I am also a confirmed entry for the Montreal Oasis half-marathon September 25th. That's all for now.

PS: When did they remove all the drinking fountains and cold water taps in airports? I know that most people are figuring out bottled water is a scam and they need customers, but this seems like war. Plus it's kind of a dick move.