Sometimes, I Just Love to Suffer

Let me take you back a few weeks to give the full picture...

Back on April 11 I attempted to race the Diez Vista 50k. It wasn't meant to be a top priority, but I ended up with a disappointing DNF. The week prior to Diez had been really warm and sunny, causing a lot of local trees to start to bloom, which in turn made my asthma horrible (I always struggle with tree pollen in spring races, but usually it's a 'May' problem). Half way through Diez, my lungs had become incredibly tight, so I pulled the plug. It was the right choice, as running hard through an asthma attack usually does a lot of diaphragm damage (In the past, It's taken me weeks to recover from a diaphragm strain). Still, it didn't sit well with me. In fact, I was quite pissed off at my lungs for being so damn fragile. A smarter man woulds have just taken some down time to recover, especially since I was going to race the Canadian National Long Distance Mountain Running Championships three weeks later in Vernon (Kal Park 50k).

...but I'm really stubborn...so I trained right through to the 50k on May 3rd. With my big races coming in July and August this year, I opted to skip the taper. I have to admit that I didn't feel like i deserved to take any extra days off...almost as if I was punishing myself for the Diez DNF. Pretty messed up thought pattern hey?

Not surprisingly, my legs felt pretty heavy for the championship race (though my lungs were great). I ran smart, and despite a badly stubbed toe, I came in second place. I have to congratulate Jordan Maynard for his win. He ran strong and smart, and deserved the win.

refilling at the half way point at Kal Park

refilling at the half way point at Kal Park

The next morning was sort of strange:  my legs really weren't all that trashed, and my brain wanted to keep the pedal to the metal and to go running  I had been focussing my training on big technical climbs and descents, but yesterdays course had been a lot less technical and less hilly than expected. Besides some calf tightness, and a jammed big toe, I felt pretty good. I'm suspicious that because I backed off around the 40km mark (due to kicking a big, immovable rock) I really saved my legs the worst of the damage. 

My energy level was surprisingly high all of last week, despite the 50k, so I just went with it. I managed to get in some good volume running, and even started to rebuild the rear deck at our house (It's kind of a weird measuring stick, but i've always felt that if I'm willing/able to tackle a home reno project, then I really can't be that beat up from running). Friday morning appeared out of nowhere, and with the 5Peaks race happening in Golden Ears Park the next day, I went out to help flag the course with Solana, Craig, and Carol. My girls were signed up to run their first official 5Peaks 3km kids race, and the weather was a going to be beautiful. About half way through flagging the course, a thought started to creep into my head: since we were going to be at the race anyway...I should probably race too...

The next morning, the Murphys were out at Golden Ears nice and early. We said hi to everyone, grabbed our race numbers, and I took the girls for a little jog on the kids course. They were so excited about doing a 'real, big kids race'. Despite some gentle prodding from me, they both lined up right at the back of the bunch for the start. It made me smile; how polite and non-competitive they are. I really love how their instincts over-rode my own, and they did what felt comfortable for themselves. Before they were all sent off, I ran ahead a few hundred meters to the creek crossing. I knew that some kids would have troubles there, so a few extra parents there couldn't hurt.

As the pack of kids arrived at the creek, the older/quicker ones navigated the crossing without needing any help, but after the first 10 or so, the rest of them started to struggle a bit. A line up had formed, but they all were polite and took their turn. I went right onto the rocks and just gave an arm to hold onto for anyone who needed it. It took a few minutes, but all the kids navigated the crossing safely; a few wet shoes, but no wipe-outs. My girls were all smiles....just politely waiting their turn near the back of the line (hahahaha).

Smiles.jpg

Both of them finished totally exhausted...and they absolutely loved it. 

I gave both my girls  hugs and told them how proud of them i was. I even had a few minutes to get in some strides before my race...though they were only along the flat parking lot. I didn't feel amazing, but I also did't feel horrible. Maybe this wouldn't hurt as much as I thought...

Holy crap...Shawn, Yann, and Mike Simpson took it out fast! My body was kind of in shock as I adjusted my effort up a notch. No easing into this one, I was already suffering 400m in!

photo by Rob Shaer : Creek crossing near the start

photo by Rob Shaer : Creek crossing near the start

The first tiny incline that we hit, and last weekends 50k reared it's ugly head! My legs actually ached when I ran uphill. On the bright side though, my lungs were great and I was truly enjoying being red-lined. This was exactly what I signed up for.

The top 4 of us stayed pretty close for the first 20 minutes, but by the Incline hill, Shaun and Mike slowly pulled away from Yann and myself. I was working really hard, but it felt like I was moving in slow motion. I managed to crest the climb just ahead of Yann, but reality soon set in as we started the descent....my legs were just as pathetic on the downhill! I did my best to try and recover a bit, but when Yann and i hit the second uphill, he slowly pulled away from me. I tried so hard to stay on his heels, but my pathetic legs just couldn't hang on. My brain wanted a fight though, so i kept pushing as hard as possible, with hopes that Yann might falter a bit. It was great motivation to have him just ahead of me, and I was able to dig really deep right to the finish. I never did catch him, but I have absolutely no regrets about my race.

photo by Rob Shaer

photo by Rob Shaer

Ever since my Coastal Challenge disaster earlier this year, I have been missing something in my running. Physically, I was fully recovered by the end of March, but mentally I just haven't had my usual focus and drive. I have somewhat been going through the motions, just waiting for that switch to turn on.

Well, that switch has turned back on again! I'm sure that watching my girls run their hearts out had a big part to play in it, but the minute I started the race on Saturday, my head was back in the game. I wasn't worried about how crappy I felt, or where I was placed...I was just loving the challenge and the suffering. I'm feeling really motivated right now, so I'm planning on putting in some big volume over the next few weeks. Two really fun events are coming up;  Survival of the Fittest (May 30) and the 5Peaks Alice Lake race (June 6). I haven't fully committed to race either one...but there's a good chance I'll do both. We have a campsite booked at Alice Lake for the 5Peaks weekend. It's pretty much a guaranteed great family trip, with the lake and the trails right there....and especially since the girls are going to race the kids 3km event again.