Tag Archives: pace

Against the wind

28 Apr

Preparations for my weekday runs usually involve a great deal of stealth.  I wake up at five in the morning, and then sneak around in my own house, getting dressed as silently as possible.  There’s a lot of tiptoeing and feeling my way around in order to avoid alerting the short people to the fact that I’m actually awake.  It’s dark and I look like a burglar.  Once I’m dressed, I make my way to the front door in my socks, grab my shoes, and leave.  I close and lock the door behind me as quietly as possible, and then put my ear up against the door to listen to the blissful sound of silence coming from within.  Now that I have successfully made my escape, I put on my shoes, plug in my music, fiddle with buttons on my training watch, and set off.

If the kids wake up at any point during this process, I can say goodbye to my run. They tend to be somewhat Mommy-centric in the mornings (if they wake up and I’m already gone, Daddy is an acceptable substitute; but if they wake up while I’m there, they want me and only me). On those days, I tend to their needs and then get ready for work, staring wistfully at my pile of discarded running clothes.  In general, though, I have become very good at the art of stealth.  I could probably give James Bond a run for his money, except that I can’t fire a gun, I don’t have any fancy gadgets in my car, and I like my martinis stirred, not shaken.

Anyway, yesterday I was able to go for a run at a normal time of the day, without the stealth factor.  I was working from home, which meant that I had an extra two hours – time that is usually spent commuting.  So I got up at a time of day considered by most people to be reasonably civilized, offloaded James at his daycare, and returned home to work.  I planned my day’s activities around an early afternoon run, which would have me back by the time George got home from the therapy centre.

Halfway through the morning, though, I was not so sure about this plan.  I had been steadily working through the morning, and had gradually become aware that the house was feeling a bit stuffy, like a vacuum cleaner’s armpit (to borrow a phrase from comedic author Douglas Adams).  I poured a cup of coffee and went out onto the back deck, where I almost got blown away by a gust of wind.  If I’d had an umbrella I would have been like Mary Poppins.

I don’t mind a bit of a breeze, but I hate wind.  I can handle just about any other weather condition, but wind makes me intensely irritable.  It blows my hair everywhere, makes my ears hurt, and generally sets me on edge.  I will not forego a training run because of rain or snow, but I must confess that I have rescheduled runs because I just didn’t want to run in the wind.  So when I went outside yesterday and stood there in the wind, I seriously questioned whether I really wanted to go running in that.

I quickly got a hold of myself, though.  I have a 10km race coming up this weekend – one that I’ve been looking forward to for weeks – and this is really not the week for me to be flaking out because of a little bit of wind.  I need to be well-conditioned this week; my limbs need to be loose and agile.  And besides, what I am going to do if it’s windy on race day?  Whine about how I don’t want my hair to get messed up?

So yesterday afternoon, I surfaced from my work and got ready to go running as planned.  I braced myself, opened the front door – and stepped out into a stunningly gorgeous afternoon.  The sun was shining and a light breeze was blowing – nothing like the gusty wind that had set my teeth on edge just four hours previously.  As I set off down the road, I could not believe that I had almost foregone this run.

It turned out to be fantastic.  The sun was gently touching my shoulders and the breeze was keeping me cool.  In the beginning I was taking it slow and easy; for the last two kilometres I was flying.  I was on a high for the rest of the day; the physical activity boosted my energy, and as always after a run, I felt a sense of accomplishment.

If I felt that great after a 5.5km training run, imagine how I will feel standing at the finish line of my run for autism.

Questioning my sanity…

8 Apr

While I was out for my early morning run today, I seriously contemplated the possibility that I was going mad.  I actually pondered out loud, to the bemusement of a pair of young men who were standing in a bus shelter.  I was muttering about how I must be crazy to be doing this, and how normal people were tucked up in their nice warm beds at that hour of the day. Although to be honest, the hour of the day wasn’t bothering me as much as the God-awful weather I was trying to run in.

Since I got all serious about my running about a year ago, I have openly told people that I will run in any weather.  And I will.  The hot sun is not a deterrent as long as I am wearing a hat and keeping myself hydrated.  Even though I am now Canadian, I am from Africa.  I am a child of the sun.  I don’t mind the rain – in fact, a light drizzle of rain during a run can be extremely comfortable and refreshing.  Snow?  No problem, as long as I watch my step and take care to avoid slipping.  Even sub-zero temperatures will not deter me.  I have good quality winter running gear.  All things being equal, I prefer to run in clear, warm conditions, but that is certainly not a prerequisite to me hitting the road.

The hour of the day isn’t a big factor to me either.  If I had my way, I would run at about ten in the morning.  But since I have not yet made my millions publishing my first novel or won the lottery, I have to get to work in the mornings, so any weekday running is done either before or after work, or during lunch.  My preference is before work because of all that feel-good stuff about starting the day with an accomplishment and not having the go through the day all tense about when I’ll get to go running.

So for today’s run, I dragged my sorry butt out of bed at 5:15 a.m.  Because I didn’t think to look out of the window while I was getting dressed, I was completely oblivious to what was going on outside. As a result, when I stepped outside at 5:30 and beheld the dark and the mist and the rain, I was completely taken by surprise. No problem, I thought, as I quickly ducked back into the house to grab my running jacket.  I set off on my way, and got halfway down the road before I realized that the rain was actually heavier than I had thought.

Still, it wasn’t too bad.  I’m not scared of a little rain.  It’s only water falling out of the sky.  I maintained a fairly brisk pace for three kilometres, and despite the weather I quite enjoyed myself.  During the last two kilometres, though, the weather abruptly changed.  What had been a gentle breeze suddenly kicked up to a full-on wind that I was running straight into, and the rain really started pelting down.  The temperature plummeted, and I realized that there were little bits of ice in the rain, hitting me in the face like lots of tiny hammers.

That is the point at which I asked myself if I was crazy.

You would think that these awful conditions would slow down my pace, but I actually kicked it up a notch.  The faster I ran, the faster I would be able to get home and get inside. When I rounded the final corner, I sprinted home, and embraced the warmth of indoors.  Looking at the run stats on my computer, I was not surprised to see that I had run the final kilometre in less than six minutes, such had been my desparation to get home.

Am I crazy? Probably.  Will I run again in those conditions?  Most definitely.

My name is Kirsten and I am a runnaholic!

Back to the start line

7 Apr

On Saturday, the day after World Autism Awareness Day, I officially made my comeback to the world of racing. My previous race had been a ten-miler back in November – a fairly miserable affair in which I had been overdressed, over-complacent, and completely confused by poor course marshalling.  I was scheduled to run in the Resolution Run on New Years Day, but my freshly acquired pinched nerve took care of that ambition.  So now, during the Easter weekend, I was ready to race again.

I did not really have any great expectations. Even if I had been healthy in the interim, I would have expected a bit of a slowdown due to the challenges of running in winter conditions.  You just cannot maintain any kind of speed running into strong icy winds with snow coming at you, while wearing multiple layers and a balaclava that makes you look like a burglar.  As it was, I was out of action for almost three months because of various things that were wrong with me.

So my goal on Saturday was simply to finish the 10km race.  I had a friend with me who was running in the 5km event.  Fran and I have known each other for years, and she has recently been bitten by the running bug.  Saturday was her first race ever, so there was a sense of occasion for both of us.  Although we were running different distances, we had a common goal – to cross the finish line.

Ten minutes before the race started we discovered that the 5km and 10km races were starting from different places.  The 5km runners stayed in the designated starting area, and the 10km runners were sheperded to a different point, about 600m away.  I set my training watch, listened for the starting siren, and off I went, wondering how far I would be from my pre-injury pace of 6 minutes 30 seconds per kilometre.  In defiance of my usual strategy to start slow, I ran my first kilometre in exactly 6 minutes and 30 seconds.  The second kilometre was slower.  The third one was very fast by my standards – 6 minutes and 13 seconds.  There were still seven kilometres remaining; I knew that I was going to regret this early spurt later on.

At around six kilometres, I passed Fran, who was coming in for her final stretch.  She was looking good; we waved at each other and went on our way. And true to my predictions, I started to seriously flag in the eighth kilometre – this unfortunately coincided with a couple of pretty intense hills along the course.

But mental power means a lot in running, and the fact that there were only two kilometres remaining helped restore some energy.  I got a further boost thinking of George, the ultimate reason I’m doing all of this running in the first place.  I used the ninth kilometre to recover, and I was able to run the final kilometre fast and come in for a strong finish.  My final time was 1:06:14.  My pace was 6 minutes and 38 seconds per kilometre – not far off from my pre-injury pace.  I was very happy with how I did.  I am now looking forward to my next race – also 10km – at the beginning of May.

It is now four days after the race.  I have been for one run since then, and my legs have not complained too much.  I must be in better shape than I’d thought!