Mother nature


It started slowly but just after I began Saturday on a recovery pace for my 8-km run, the skies opened up, and the pouring rain was accompanied by plenty of thunder and lightning.

Canada Day brought out a rare sight in Quispamsis Monday – the sun. For much of the past week, the prevailing conditions were rain, clouds, darkness and relatively cool temperatures. Mind you, since I had a few extended runs scheduled in my training for the P.E.I. Marathon, I did not mind the conditions that much. In fact, two of my most enjoyable runs ever happened in cloudy, cool or rainy conditions – Fredericton half in 2012 and PEI 10K in October 2010.

But this week, two runs were interrupted by Mother Nature. First, the strides workout I had planned for Tuesday was altered to a tempo run on the treadmill because of a threat of lightning. In fact, there was a tornado warning for the evening, which had me wondering just what the heck to do, if our house was strong enough to last through a tornado, do we have supplies, will we be safe, etc etc. etc. The warning lasted all of 45 minutes but was enough to keep me inside on the treadmill that night. I opted out of the strides because they are 25-30 seconds of sprinting followed by two minutes of a slow jog – repeated 10 times. I just felt so much button-pushing on the treadmill was not worth it, so I switched to a 3-7-3 tempo format with the 7k run at 5 min pace.

Thursday, it was overcast and cool but at 13-15C, it was a beautiful evening for a run when I got going on a 16k effort. I tried to keep it at 6:20 per km but came in at 6:10 per KM. I read that the training pace needs to keep slow in order to 1) log the time and get your body burning fat on the aerobic jaunt and not producing lactic acid (more on that later in the process – when I figure it out! and 2) not burn out.

But the temperatures made for a comfortable run on my favourite route, which takes me adjacent to the Kennebecasis River. Ironically enough, as I ran, Saint John-like fog had rolled in and the river was a blanket of white.

Saturday was a crazy day at our house as were prepared for my oldest daughter’s 10th birthday party – Double digits, big time effort. So we hosted a sleepover for eight of her friends and my youngest daughter. It all went well as could be expected and I even had time for an 8k recovery pace run starting at approximately 4:45 p.m. before everyone arrived. I got going on a nice pace, again a little quick but not too bad. After just one km, the clouds opened, sprinkling with a light rain. Not bad, I thought. Refreshing even. At 1.5 km though, it really started to pour and at 2 km, I heard the first rumble. It was distant but distinct. I thought I’d go 500 more metres, possibly another km and turn around to cut it short to 6km overall.

A 2.5 km, the rumbles grew in volume and at 3 km, there was a none so subtle ‘BANG’. I sprinted for cover outside a local restaurant, and waited and waited and waited for the storm to let up. Finally, after 20 minutes and with no relief in sight, I called for a drive home. The rain was so intense, it was streaming off the roof of the restaurant – see the picture above. The rumbling lasted another 30-45 minutes but by then, the birthday guests were arriving. So I cut it short – 3km run.

After the excitement, came another one of those Pfitzner tests – a 21.1 km long run with 13 km at marathon pace on Sunday. For me, that meant a 5:36 km effort from the 4km mark to 17 km, achievable but after not doing that pace for that distance for a while, not a given. The key was to hit the time pretty well right on and not attempt to bank time, as I did in Moncton last year, a strategy where I ultimately paid dearly. But when you are feeling good and can go with the speed of the day as warranted by conditions and your energy level, it is hard not to run at the faster pace. This will be the biggest challenge in training, I figure – running disciplined.

Safe to say, this is a lead in to report I was not disciplined Sunday, completing the entire 21.1 km route, warm ups included at 5:36 or 1:57.4x.

My warmup 4 k splits were 6:01, 6:13, 6:08, 6:07 – a tad faster than the 6:25 I was hoping for.

The 13 k splits (again aiming for 5:36) were as follows:

5:34, 5:31, 5:45, 5:24, 5:24, 5:16; 5:26; 5:12; 5:16, 5:18; 5:13: 5:09; 4:55.

This was about three minutes, 35 seconds, or almost 16 seconds per km, faster than I should have been. It might not seem like a lot, but over the course of a full marathon, this will be a killer. I know first-hand. Looking at the splits, I suspect I felt nervous after that 5:45 time and decided I did not want push it so close the rest of the way. The final 4 k were a shade under 6:00 coming home.

Overall, I felt good, really good for the first half I’d run in more than 6 months and 8 k of that half was at a slow pace. But after the 17th K, I was feeling it and was more tired than possibly I should be to end Week 2 of training. So the next big test for marathon pace is in three weeks. We’ll see if I can use this lesson and come closer to the goal of 5:36.

Last week

4 runs, 53 k

This week

5 runs, 64 km, long run 23 km