Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!

I was looking back over my Blog and I see that my first post was on January 14, 2005. So I am fast approaching my one year anniversary. Stop it! I'm getting all misty...

Yesterday, as advertised I ran the Fat Ass 50K on New Year's Day. I tried to stay around seventy percent of my maximum heart rate and after the first hour I was largely successful. I still can't get over the fact how hard it is for me to be disciplined when I am in a large group of people, by large I mean more than three. Trust me, there were not large numbers of people in Vancouver running 50K on January 1st! But there were at least forty who did the 50K and another forty or fifty doing shorter distances. It took me an hour to settle down and treat the day as a super long training run.

I don't know what it was, but yesterday's run never seemed to settle into a groove for me. A lot of little things went wrong. I didn't sleep all that well the night before, probably because knowing I wasn't going to be drinking for the next four months, I polished off a bottle of red wine at dinner. I laid out all my gear the night before, and Cactus Jack, probably pissed off at the lack of attention he's been getting, pissed on my rain jacket. A fact I didn't pick up on until almost at the race. Too late to turn around... I put fresh batteries in my Polar footpod, but never checked them. So when I got to the start and tried to switch on the footpod, it remained lightless and silent. Great, just great. Then I had trouble getting a heart rate for the first ten minutes and I inadvertently stopped recording the run and had to reset my watch. My legs felt heavy, my lungs wheezy and a couple of times I almost turned over an ankle because my fine motor control seemed to have abandoned me. I hope this was not a harbinger for the coming year.

The great thing about Club Fat Ass are the people. I enjoy the company of lifestyle marathoners, and by that I mean the people who enjoy long distance running for the joy and pleasure of it and not so much about, "What's your personal best, mine is..." Those people tend to make me want to roll my eyes on a good day and wretch on a bad one. But I digress. The Club Fat Assers and trail runners and ultramarathoners do seem to me to be a much more tightly-knit group with a heightened sense of community. The best part of hanging out with people like that, after the run itself, is the meal, drink, feast afterwards and the telling of war stories and the company of folks who just enjoy being outside and covering a lot of ground in the process. And the volunteers. Wow! You can't say enough for people who willingly stand around and pass out food and drink and soup (yes, Chicken soup with enough garlic to kill a brace of vampires and leave you celibate for a month) and offer you encouragement and the kind of enthusiasm that makes you want to keep going even when you really don't want to. How could you let down people like that?

Yesterday the advertised 50K was about ten percent longer according to Patrick's Polar. And the weather, well, the weather was Vancouver in the midst of winter. Rain, wind, more rain, more wind.

I spent seven, yes, seven hours running 55 kilometres through the trails yesterday. The course as laid out by Ian was an enjoyable and scenic way to transverse Vancouver. All trails and bike paths. I even spent some time on trails I had never been on before. What a great experience to run in the woods. But more of the dark forest later... We started just as it was getting light and ended just when it was getting dark. That pretty much sums up the day.

I went pretty easy, so I am not toooo stiff today, but the weather was rainy and cold and the wind was blustery. Blustery enough to blow down the big trees in Stanley Park. And by big trees I am talking about trees that were two and three feet across at the butt. Along one portion of the run we had a twenty five knot wind in our face for forty-five minutes. It was so ridiculous that you couldn't help but laugh out loud. In Stanley Park the wind was something else entirely. It became a little more serious. The wind was crashing the tops of the trees together and branches and twigs were raining down. A branch almost two inches thick landed a few feet from us, the needles braking it's descent enough for us to pick it up on the way down and stop in time.

During the last five kilometres we heard three big trees snap off, the sound like a grenade going off. We came across one felled giant along the path, whose collapse had taken out half a dozen smaller trees in its path to the ground. Less than 500 metres from the finish one of the big trees gave up its struggle with the wind - less than fifty metres behind us - and with a tremendous CRACK! that could have been a stick of dynomite, it came down so quickly that it was nothing short of astonishing. Any closer and it would have been nip and tuck as to whether or not we could have been quick enough to get out of its way. Laura had never experienced anything like this and she was only too happy that the run was nearly over. In fact she practically sprinted the rest of the way.

- I later found out that the wind was gusting to 75 knots in English Bay and around Stanley Park, which was why the trees were coming down. And at Pender Harbour, just up the coast, they apparently recorded gusts up to 100 knots. At Spanish Banks, where I estimated the wind at 25-30 miles an hour, the wind was actually gusting up to 40 knots.

Both Patrick and Laura were gracious enough to run the whole way with me, and I think Laura astonished herself with her base level of fitness because she was never too sure she would be able to do the entire distance. She hadn't gone more than 20K in a while but she had run two marathons this past year and done some over-distance training with a group that had gone out to 50K a couple of times. And at seventy percent with that kind of base, you should be able to run all day. And we all did. The crazy thing of course is that by running that way you can navigate stairs the next day and not feel like the walking wounded.

First Marathon Clinic session is tomorrow night, so back to training in earnest.


Post a Comment

<< Home