Racing the Storm

One of Canada’s Olympians, Reid Coolsaet, recently tweeted “When I look back at my career, I doubt I raced to my potential but hammered out my recovery runs, said No.One.Ever.”  I couldn’t help but laugh.  Over the years, I have often been reminded by running partners, husband and coach that I am not suppose to push myself on recovery days. “They are about building base mileage,” my coach reminds me.  “The workouts are to build speed; take it easy on the other days. ”  While I am getting better and slowing down the pace when I need to, there are times when I get carried away with my thoughts and forget; my legs take off and the rest of me follows.

With ten weeks to go until Chicago and steadily increasing mileage, I was glad to have an easy 12K planned today.   So that I could sleep in a bit (I had to pick up the teenage dude from work at 2:00 a.m. so a morning run was not favoured), I decided to run in the late afternoon even though it meant running in high temperatures.   Like most runners, I stalked The Weather Network all day, hoping for a change in the forecast.  Nothing.  Even the rain and storms were consistently predicted to arrive after 8:00 p.m.

storm front of house
Storm clouds quickly rolling in. Later, I learned that a tornado had touched down about 50km (30 miles) north of us.

Just after 4:30, I headed out.  “Oh, my legs are tired,” I thought to myself as I started.  “Keep it slow.  Keep it easy.  All you’re doing is logging miles.”  I could feel the wind picking up and it wasn’t long before I realized that I was going to have to run into some gusts for part of the run.   About halfway through, while impatiently waiting for a street light to change, I saw them.  Just northeast of the town, the skies were black and I could see the clouds were getting closer to home.

The storm wasn’t going to hit us until evening but I found my thoughts turning to lightning protocol:

1. When you hear thunder, seek shelter.   I had my ears open.  There were lots of places to turn to: the stores, the soccer club, friends’ homes.  Check.

2. If there is lightning, crouch close to the ground.  Curl up in a ball to make yourself as small as possible.  Do not lie flat.   Check.

3. If you are with a group of people, spread out.  I’m alone.  No problem here.

4. Stay away from metal objects.  Check.

As I ran, my head kept turning towards the clouds watching them get darker and move closer and closer.   I worried about my husband, out on a bike ride, and wondered if he was caught in the middle of the rain and needed to be picked up.  And I thought about my boys at home, who were probably completely oblivious to what was going on outside.

Sure enough, despite the darkening skies, the dudes had no idea that a storm was on its way.  Hubby was obviously fine as he hadn’t called.  Me?  I beat the rain home by about 10 minutes but, without even realizing it, I broke the rules for my recovery run.  My watch made it clear; my pace was faster than it needed to be.   The miles seemed easy today but, tomorrow, I am pretty sure that I am going to regret them.storm back of house

Then again, tomorrow is my rest day.  I bet I can hammer out some solid rest.

 

 

Knowing When to Say When

When I registered for the Chicago Marathon, I had forgotten how hard it can be to train through the summer heat.   Well, I didn’t entirely forget but I shrugged it off, thinking that this would be a typical summer with empty promises of hot weather.

Let’s keep in mind that this is Canadian hot – so nothing near the hot, dry heat that is felt through many parts of the United States and other parts of the world.  In Southern Ontario, I have to get up by 6:30 so that I can run in cooler temperatures, not at 4:30 like my Floridian friends.  But it’s all relative.

This past week, we had the first real heat wave that we have had in two summers.  23252-sunglasssunOn most days, temperatures were around 32 degrees (about 90F) but, when you added the humidity, it felt like 38C (about 100F).  What exactly does that mean?  At my hot yoga class on Monday night, they turned off the heat, closed the curtains to keep the sun out and we still walked away drenched; even then, it was hotter outside than it was inside.

Training-wise, the heat took its toll on me.  I ran my long run on Sunday and went through two bottles of Gatorade and lots of water in the 6 hours that followed; that was a personal record.  On Monday, I went to hot yoga at Power Yoga Canada; I trained with Lions Valley Athletics on Tuesday night, another sweat drencher.  On Wednesday night, due to family commitments, I kept my run short – 8K in feels like 35C heat.  By Thursday, I was done.

I had had it with the heat.  It, quite simply, had tired me out.   My feet were slightly swollen and I wasn’t sleeping well at night.  On Thursday, when the Littlest Dude asked if we could spend the whole day together, which meant no running for me,  I knew it was time to take a day off.  I needed the physical break but, more importantly, my son needed me.

Of course, I stressed over this.  I knew that the day off alone wouldn’t matter in the big picture but I worried about the drop in my weekly mileage.   I started to calculate ways to make it up over the rest of the week.  “Do I need to drop mileage next week too?” I wondered.   And what about next week’s mileage?

“ENOUGH!  It doesn’t matter.  It is one lousy day.  And it is one day that, for whatever reason, the Littlest Dude wants to spend with you.”  My inner voice set me straight.

And, as the week is wrapping up, the day off didn’t matter.  I ran yesterday and today, as planned, and I will tomorrow.  What matters is the Littlest Dude and making sure that he realizes that I am there for him when he needs me.  And when I do head to Chicago, he will be there, looking out for me.

Tender Tootsies

Over the past few years, I have run 3 marathons.  It is no coincidence that, over that same time period, I have lost 3 big toenails.

While distance runners often do lose a toenail or two or three, my most tender tootsie is really a result Chase, my 90 pound lab cross.   Five years ago, just after getting home from a ten mile run, Chase ran to me and stepped on my right foot landing primarily, you guessed it, on my big right toe.  I cringed.  My feet were already sensitive from just finishing my run but my dog aggravated them further with his weight.  For the rest of the summer, I watched the toenail turn black, lift and, eventually, fall out.  It has never been the same.  Now, during every period of building mileage, I prepare to go through the same process, resulting in feet that just don’t sport a pedicure well.

Since the beginning of June, while training for the Chicago Marathon, I’ve watched my weekly mileage increase from 20 to 40 miles a week and that same toenail become more and more purple.  It isn’t the nail itself that is the problem; it is the blood blister underneath the nail.  As the blister grows, the tissue under the nail becomes motoenail July 13re swollen, the nail begins to lift and turn whiter and the toe becomes sore to touch.

Wearing compression socks helps relieve some of the discomfort but, tonight, I wanted a more aggressive solution.  Out came the vinegar.

After sterilizing a needle and while soaking my foot in a bucket of vinegar, I gently poked the needle under the nail so that the blister popped.  A tiny bit of blood oozed out.  I did it again; a bit more blood escaped.  After the third poke, nothing came out.  I think I drained it.  I let my foot soak a little more, dried it and covered it with polysporin.

It didn’t hurt.  Honestly.  And my toe already feels better; I’m not noticing that same pressure on it when I walk.  The real test will come tomorrow morning when I put on socks again.

Many of my friends sport lovely pedicures throughout the summer.  Sometimes I think that I should too.  That way, I don’t have to look at my mess of discoloured toenails.  But I also want to see what is going on with them from one week to the next.  More realistically, though, I want my feet to show off the miles that I’ve logged while on the road to Chicago.