Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Running on Seven Cylinders

Sometimes you have to listen to your body. After two weeks of unseasonably frigid weather, Vancouver has been run over by the Pineapple Express, also known as a Tropical Punch. If you happen to think, as I do, that this sounds suspiciously like the drinks special at the Maui Hilton, you are not alone. It is, however, a very colourful description of the weather system that is now inundating Vancouver and indeed much of the rest of the Wet Coast of British Columbia with precipitation. The Hawaiian allusion is attributable to the fact that the warm, moist air responsible for all the rain has come to us courtesy of the South Pacific. That's the geographic area, not the musical, that is. In the past 48 hours we have had more than 100mm of rain and we’re expecting another 300mm in the next few days. I saw a man with a long, grey beard building a very big boat next door…

Anyways, back to my body. During Vancouver’s cold snap it had gotten as cold as –9 Celsius, and when taking the wind chill factor into account during some of our runs, I had been piling up mileage in weather as cold as –15 C. Business as usual for stubble-jumpers who run in the Canadian Prairies, but the conditions were a travesty for a West Coast boy. I have a touch of exercise-induced asthma to begin with and the running in the cold seemed to exacerbate my condition. I developed a bit of a dry, hacking cough that wouldn’t go away - but I FELT great during all of our runs. Yesterday morning my resting heart rate was up, which wasn’t a great sign.

Last night’s Tuesday Marathon Clinic called for a 6K speed workout, and within a few minutes I knew that all was not right with Vince’s world. The run took place during a torrential downpour, and despite the freezing rain I was overheating and my heart rate bore no relation to my speed. I had no snap, my legs were dead and it felt like I was running on seven cylinders. At three-quarters effort I couldn't catch my breath. My heart rate shot through the roof. And the dry cough had turned into something reminiscent of Dennis Quaid’s interpretation of Doc Holliday in Wyatt Earp. I sounded like I had tuberculosis – hack, hack. I backed off from an eighty percent effort to cruise control.

Now it’s time for me to practice what I preach to everybody in my running group. You have to protect the franchise; you have to take care of your body. If I was coaching myself, I would have benched me, but I hate not to show up for a Clinic night. I hate to let anybody down and the best way to set a good example is to show up every night. Ya gotta come to play. Tonight I have a 10K and I intend to take it very easy.


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