February 2007 Archives

Calf Cramp!


I now have the pictures from the swim meet. I'll post some of them, and a real report, when I can.

On Sunday, I woke to a rather sore hip flexor. I decided to skip the run, and to rest and recover. By Monday morning, it was better, but still not gone. So I rested

This morning was the first swim since the meet. We actually got a very tough assignment, including an imposing looking 50x50. At the 28th 50, my calf suddenly cramped up badly. I had to pull myself back to the end of the pool, and stretch it out.

It bothered me all day, and I got up and occasionally walked around and stretched it out. I really wanted to run tonight, not having run since Wednesday, but I was also a bit worried. By the time I got home, I could barely feel it, so I decided to head out.

It helped that it was WARM. Like, 0 degrees warm. It was also clear, with a beautiful sunset. I felt like a wild man, running out with only a jacket over a tee, with no hat or mitts. It was...liberating. Sure, after a while my hands were cold, and tucked into my sleeves. Still, I was happy.

The calf was fine, too, until I stopped. As soon as I went to stretch, I could feel it. I can still feel it. Ugh.

I ran fairly slowly, aiming to be comfortable and relaxed, both because of the cramp, and because I hadn't run in almost a week. There was no point in going hard today.

As for tomorrow's run, well, we'll see how I feel in the morning. I'll do as much as 16 km, if I'm up for it.

Swim Meet Short


I'm home from the swim meet. Here's what I remember of my times:

200 I.M.: 3:06.xx
100 Free: 1:20.96 (Last year: 1:27.73)
50 Breast: 44.xx (Last year: 43.13)

2 out of 3 are PBs. The breast was disappointing. I had hoped for a better result on the freestyle, but I'll definitely take it. The I.M. result I was very, very happy with.

More later.

A Good Run

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Tuesday's run was not good. Any run that has to be cut short due to a washroom emergency can not be good. The less said, the better.

Wednesday's run got delayed until the very end of the day. Fortunately, the weather was beautiful, as it didn't dip below -6 until after I fell asleep.

As this was my last run until Sunday, I was determined to actually do the run, despite the fact that it wasn't fitting well into my day. So when I finally went out, after 8pm, my focus was on just relaxing and getting through the run.

I had plotted out a new route for 16km. I actually knew what the various distances would be if I happened to bail out early, but my pride wanted to see the full distance completed. With no real incentive to perturb myself, I relaxed, ran a laconic pace, and actually found myself enjoying myself. My hands weren't getting numb, my face wasn't cold, and the moon was playing hide and seek behind the wispy clouds overhead.

I hit the turnaround only averaging 6 minutes per kilometer. This slow result didn't phase me. I knew there was no point in wasting energy to close to Saturday's meet, so I just continued on my way. I practiced visualizing Saturday's heats, while my body shuffled along on cruise control.

Eventually, my hands started to chill just a bit, and I started wishing for a pee break, but by then I was nearly home. My feet picked up the pace of their own accord once I got back onto familiar ground, and before I could find a single reason to complain, I was done.

The question is, have I been under siege for so long that I'd forgotten how relaxing running can be, or did backing off the pace make that much of a difference?

Either way, it was a good run.

The Variability of Self


I set out this morning trying to match Tuesday's 8km run. The sun was shining, it was mild, though still windy, and I was better rested. I could tell within the first two minutes, though, that it just wasn't there.

I ended up over 2 minutes slower than Tuesday.

The lesson, I guess, is to apply this knowledge to race expectations. There is no magical bonus for races. You may come out on fire, or you may come out flat. If you've got your heart set on that huge PB, better plan on racing as often as you can.

Speaking of racing, the swim meet is in 7 days. I'll do full runs Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and swim Tuesday and Thursday. I'll skip Friday's and Saturday's runs, but will run as normal the day after the meet.

I know what my goal times are, but honestly, que sera, sera.

Like a Hammer


Friday is the day we've all been looking forward to. The winds are finally supposed to die down, after at least 48 hours of constant howling. The temperature is supposed to warm up, too, with a high of -6. (Plus, hey, it's Friday!)

None of that was in evidence at dawn this morning. It was still cold, still windy. I opted for a technical long sleeve over a technical tee, rather than Wednesday's fleece, and hoped it would be enough to deal with the -25C wind chill.

I wore my glasses out, but they only lasted a few minutes. My ears were being chilled by the icy probes under my ear protectors. Gah.

Running north was very tough. I wondered how I was going to manage 16km. Actually, I wondered if I would make it to around the 6-6.5 km mark, when I would turn south, and hopefully have the wind at my back.

When I made it to the farm, I turned west. The wind was still in my face, but there was very little to shelter me from it. It was horrendous. It felt like I was lying down with a hammer just sitting on my chest. The pressure was constant and unrelenting, slowing me down, pushing me backwards. What it did to my face and hands was far, far worse.

Occasionally, the wind would gust. This was also like a hammer, a blow that would try to throw me off stride, and maybe even leave me gasping for breath. One time, when a school bus drove by, I had to grit my teeth from the force and the cold.

When I finally made the corner, and turned south, the change in pressure was palpable. I checked my watch. 36 minutes. For 36 minutes, I had been running into a stiff winter wind. It was nothing I wanted to have to do again.

With the wind at my back, the run was bearable. The air was only -14, which was on the verge of being comfortable, now that I was warmed up. Occasionally, the wind would hit me from behind, and it would feel like my hamstrings were bieng pushed and raised up. Once, running through some drifted snow, I wondered if it was going to push me into the ditch. It felt weird.

As I turned east, snow was blowing off the cattle pasture to the north of me, whiting out the road and building drifts on it. I had to run with my left hand at my face, trying to keep the ice from stinging my face and eyes. I could see civilization through the blowing snow, but I was left alone against nature.

Fortunately, when I finally turned back into the wind, I had a subdivision to partially shelter me. Or, maybe, the wind was finally starting to die out. Either way, I felt strangely strong. I'd come through something, and was going to make it, and everything was alright.

I mean, it was still cold, and by "it" I mean everything, but it was alright.

All that, for just one training run. There are dozens more to go.

Highs and Lows

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I woke up Wednesday in the same mood I'd been in on Tuesday.

The weather was even worse. It was cold, there was a wicked wind, but this time it was snowing. It looked and felt like a full out blizzard. Schools were closing down, plows working around the clock, the whole bit.

I packed my running stuff and brought it all to work, determined to run when it was the least cold out. Finally, after lunch, I could wait no longer.

The goal was 16km. Given my general mood and the weather, achieving it seemed doubtful. The footing was terrible - I was running in an inch of snow even where the plows had obviously been by. I decided to stick to sidewalks, as I wanted to stay as far away from cars as I could. (I did see one car which had spun out, trying to right itself. I heard of two accidents in the area around that time, as well.) This left me with limited options, so I ended up finding a stretch which was slightly protected from the wind, and running back and forth.

Running with the wind at my back was almost pleasant. Sure, it was slippery, but I wasn't too cold. Actually, I was too hot; I'd worn a full fleece as a mid layer, and I was sweltering under it. It left me sweaty and uncomfortable on my trunk, while my fingers were numb with cold.

Running into the wind was unbelievable. Within seconds, there was snow on my eyelashes. I had to squint to stop the ice and snow from blowing into my eyes. My face went numb within seconds, but it was an uncomfortable, frozen numb.

I did not have a measured route laid out, but I figured I should be running for at least 90 minutes. So I ran back and forth along my sidewalk until my watch read 45 minutes, then I turned and headed back towards work. As soon as I did so, I saw the flaw in my planning. If I'd treaded water for a while, then it wasn't going to take me 45 minutest o get back. Not even close.

When you're cold, frustrated and bored of looking at the same sidewalk over and over again, having your hopes dashed is a bit hard to take. I wasn't going to turn back - I was going to head to work, and figure out what to do when I got there.

I managed to run past work, and go about a block further, before I turned back. Still, it was a mostly empty victory. The run was cut far short of what it should have been, and I didn't feel like I had a good enough reason.

At least I didn't skip the run altogether, I guess.

Total running time: ~1 hour, 12 minutes.
Distance: Dunno, but not 16km.

Hard Times

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"There should be a science of oppression. People need hard times to develop psychic muscles."
-- Frank Herbert

The challenge, yesterday, was getting out the door.

I'm starting to get very beat down by all the cold weather. There are only so many days of running in dangerous, painful cold weather I can take before I get frustrated. With yet another "wind chill" day yesterday, I was looking for a reason to skip the 8km run I had planned.

The problem, I guess, is that I knew that Wednesday's run would be even worse - 16 km, cold, and snowy. It wasn't going to make sense to wimp out on a run, if the next run was going to be even worse. I also had a hard time convincing myself to break the momentum I have.

So, around 5:30pm, out the door I went, a bit bitter and frustrated.

I was intent on just getting the run finished, so I could get back inside. My stride was different than usual - I was kind of slamming the balls of my feet down, and my cadence was kind of high. I was trying hard not to pound so much that I hurt my shins, and I was trying hard not to "heel strike", whatever that is. Still, my mind mostly was not on my run. Mostly, it was on four letter words, the most prominent of which was "wind".

At the first turnaround, I was starting to have some inkling that I was going fast, so I checked my watch. Uh-huh. With the wind more at my back for the second leg, I tried to keep up whatever it was that I was doing. Back at the junction of the T, I took another glance at my watch, and nodded.

The thing about running fast, in my experience, is that it feels smooth and effortless. I wouldn't say that I was quite running effortlessly, but surprisingly my pace felt quite sustainable. I wasn't quite comfortable, but I wasn't deteriorating. Well, I wasn't deteriorating physically. Mentally, I think the exertion was keeping my inner dialogue muffled, which had to be a good thing.

At the second turnaround, my time made no sense. I've been there in close to 32 minutes on slow runs. Thirty mintes is maybe an average winter run. I think the last time I tore up that route, it was around 28 minutes. My watch read 26:18.

Clearly, there was no choice but to concentrate on whatever it was I was doing. It felt reasonably smooth, and I imagined that I looked sort of sleek and fast. (Well, I imagined that I did, anyways!) The balls of my feet were still pounding, but otherwise my stride felt more smooth(er) I was still stupendously cold, and looking forward to getting back indoors, but it wasn't so cold that I couldn't set aside the wind and the chill and just gun it. By the end I was almost sprinting.

I finished up in 38:26, for a course just over 8 km / 5 miles. From memory, going under 40 minutes on that course is something rare and special. I reflected that I probably could have held that pace over a 10km run, and wondered how it compared to my PB.

It turns out that I've broken 38 minutes once on that route. Still, yesterday was the second fastest time I've ever put in on that route - and I know I've set out to go fast more than a few times. Yesterday, I wasn't really aiming to set a PB.

As for a 10km equivalent, I was on pace for a 46:10 time. Not quite a PB, I think I've run faster than that twice, including nearly a full minute faster. This was kind of surprising to me, to think that I've gone even faster than that, once upon a time. Still, I was specifically working on speed and 10k races at the time.

In the end, I'm not sure that I'm any mentally tougher than I was yesterday. I still dread going outside, and am not looking forward to today's run. Still, I think that there's evidence that I'm getting physically stronger. Sure, yesterday was an abnormal and special training run. Still, it's something that I can build on, and try to recapture. Spring is getting closer, even if it doesn't feel like it. Soon I'll be shedding the layers. Soon, the ice will be gone. Then, I can get serious about all this stuff.

Warmer, but not Warm

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Where was I?

Tuesday's run was slow. Actually, the swim probably was, too.

Wednesday started out ok, but by kilometer 5, my hands and butt were getting cold, and the sun still hadn't come up. I was hoping that things would improve after the turnaround, once the wind was at my back. They didn't. I ended up having to give myself a mental speech. I asserted to myself that the distance was doable, even easy. I needed to stop worrying about how cold I was and just get it done. Things improved after that.

Thursday I was reminded how awful my dive starts are.

Friday was milder, but with an unbelievable wind. I was scheduled for 14km, but the whole first 7km was going to be with the wind at my back. Around the 6km mark, out in open farmland with no shelter from the wind, I opted to turn back early, even though I was still feeling strong. My intuition about the wind was spot on, and the run back was tough.

Yesterday the sun was shining, it looked beautiful out, and I had a mediocre run. I also timed it awfully, forgetting what my schedule was, and causing my family undue grief. Oops.

Today's 28 was tough. It was -11 when I got up, and -9 when I left the house. Not warm, but at least I wasn't dealing with the killer chill from recent weeks. I stopped at home at 16km for water and a gel, then went back out. Things started falling apart shortly thereafter, and the run was far from my best this year. All I could do was remind myself that the marathon would be tougher.

Another 70km week is now under my belt. This morning, I would have told you that I wasn't as tired as I expected to be, but after my run, I'm not sure I can say the same anymore.



I was just congratulating myself for not having missed a run in January when people around me started getting sick. Sure enough, Friday I missed both the run and work.

I probably wouldn't have run on Saturday if it had been longer than 5km. The run was uninspired and lethargic, despite the reasonable weather (only -5!)

I took it easy for Sunday's 21km run. I retraced last week's run, through the snow. The footing was still less than great. I decided to hope that the adversity was strengthening my ankles. That which doesn't kill me....

The good news is that I felt very comfortable at the 18km mark, and was only just getting the slightest bit wobbly at the end. The run was slow, but for now, it's the distance that I'm primarily concerned with.

Speaking of distance, I've got a lot of it coming up this week. Wish me luck!



I was eager to get in the pool and work on my breaststroke this morning. Oh, how naive I was.

You can do a few strokes of breaststroke and think "yeah, this feels pretty good". The problem is that your legs start to burn. Breaststroke just takes so much power. Before you know it, your legs are burning, and you're screaming for oxygen. Not to mention the oxygen hunger on the breakouts.

I threw 100m of breast into my warmup. It was about all I could do. I was trying to push myself, and after 100m, needed to revert to free to rest. We did some breast kick during the warmup, too. I tried to catch up to my lanemates, but despite a perceived huge power output, I wasn't making up huge ground. Ugh.

Our main set was 8x100 (supposed to be 9 - oops). The first three were freestyle, which was fine. The next three were breast. I was mentally chiding myself for not working hard enough after a while, but I found my tank was emptying really fast. Incredibly, the 2 IM sets at the end were a relief.

Then we got some rest, in preparation for a timed 200 IM.

I had done two different 200 IMs in 3:20 on Tuesday, so I should have been really enthused. Instead, I was nervous. I didn't feel well rested, and wasn't looking forward to swimming the 200. It's weird; I love doing timed swims, because I love challenging myself. For whatever reason, though, all I could feel was dread.

...which might just be what I'm feeling the day of the meet, too.

I ended up facing off against my two faster lanemates, both of whom I suspected (rightly) were doing 200 free. I expected them to be a bit faster than me, but was hoping that I would be able to hang with them. I thought my dive start was ok, and I tried to settle into a relaxed first 25 fly. At the turn, they were both well ahead of me, which was a bit disappointing. My fly isn't that slow, but in IM, I'm more concerned about conserving energy (rightly or wrongly) than speed.

At the second turn, I got a good push off the wall, and a couple of dolphin kicks underwater, on my back, before I surfaced. While it was a very good start, I now had to calm myself down, and stick to my strategy of building over the 50. I did something like a two beat kick, and tried to give a strong pull. Unfortunately, I was watching the ceiling, which technically is a no-no. Come race day, I'll have to rely on the flags and lane markers to keep me going straight, and to know when to turn. I should be practicing it now.

It wasn't until I finished my backstroke that I got to peek at where the competition was. As I turned over to start breaststroke, I peeked to my left. The news wasn't good. They were WAY ahead of me, maybe as much as 30m and 20m. And here I was, starting the slowest of the four strokes. Was I really going that slow today?

My first breakout wasn't very good. I didn't push off the wall well enough, pulled too early, and didn't lift my head, leaving me way too deep for my first kick. Ugh. I tried hard to make breaststroke my strongest segment, kicking hard, focusing on decent sculling. The oxygen went away, and I'm not sure I really built, but I think the segment overall was about as quick as I could have hoped for.

The 50 free at the end is as much a relief as anything else. I reminded myself that my freestyle is much improves this year, and that I probably could reel in the field a bit on this stage, even if they were already mostly done. The change in muscle groups usually works to my advantage here, but I'm usually starting in oxygen deficit. I tried pretty hard to catch up, but my poor turn at the halfway mark hurt me. I just wanted to surface so badly. Ugh.

When I finished, I wasn't in a huge hurry to hear my time, figuring I hadn't had a great swim. As it turns out, I think my two lanemates had awesome swims. I finished in 3:12.3, which I was really pretty happy about. I suspect that they both did their 200 frees in under 3:00, which is mighty impressive, and makes me a tiny bit jealous (my PB is 3:08).

Something tells me that this wasn't as fast as I can go on the 200 IM. My nerves and perceived fatigue probably slowed me down a bit. Still, I'm going to have to deal with killer nerves on race day, so experiencing them in practice is maybe a good thing. A bit more aggression and attention to detail in the turns will probably help me get even faster in the future.


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Recent Comments

  • Cheryl: Right on Wendy! read more
  • Wendy: That swimming fitness will be back before you know it! read more
  • deene: you have to listen to your body, you probably needed read more
  • Cheryl: The heat, mixed with the humidity were extreme and it read more
  • Wendy: Sorry to hear you were so ill, Warren, but good read more
  • Cheryl: Sounds like a tough go! It's a shame that everyone read more
  • deene: anything timed in seconds and with repeats sound tough to read more
  • jank: Ease comes soon while riding in a group. As long read more
  • warren: Sadly, no. Nor did I delve into the Leguminosae family read more
  • jeff: WOOHOO! did you ever come up with a name for read more

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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