Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Marathon Update - Lowestoft, Greenwich Park, Bloody nose, Bloody treadmill and a great day that reminded me of why...

My marathon training is starting to slowly ramp up and I thought that it was time to give an update.

While I was away in England during the first two weeks of January, I was pretty dedicated to my plan. I went for some awesome runs in Lowestoft (a few with my old coach, Tony Smith, until his busted back starting acting up) and got to see some beautiful scenery. Exploring a new place by foot is always the best way to uncover little treasures. It was also a great way to decompress after the intensity of being involved in a high stress situation with Olympic qualification on the line. 

The biggest issue for me while running in the UK was that I narrowly avoided being hit by a few cars. In fact, once I literally jumped out of the way with my hand on the hood of a car. I am so accustomed to look to the left while crossing the road that having to look the other way completely threw me off. I actually got to the point where I would stop at almost every street crossing and hold both of my arms out like a traffic cop and quickly tippy toe across the road while darting my head from side to side. It looked ridiculous, but seemed to give the cars ample warning that a dumbass Canadian was trying not to get nailed.

One thing I found to be super helpful with my running commitment and motivation was to do it right when we got back to our hotel after lunch. There were no ifs, ands or buts - I just walked in the door, changed into my running gear, grabbed my stuff (toque, mitts, ipod and GPS watch) and hit the road. I didn't give myself any time to talk myself out of it. I didn't allow a jet lag induced nap occur. I needed to run and I made it happen. Sure, some days it didn't feel perfect and it was hard to get going, but I always arrived back at the Broadland Holiday Village feeling energized and satisfied. 

London was definitely harder to fit in my runs as the days weren't quite as scheduled. I have to be honest; I missed a couple of them…and I could totally feel my entire being transform for the worse when I did.

What I realized in London was that exercise is essential for me to maintain a positive state of mind. As soon as I skip just one day, I can feel my optimism decline. Guilt sinks in, my gut starts to bloat, my saboteur starts to bark and people become more and more difficult to stand. My friend Kim once told me (while we were in Hawaii) that my energy and mood completely changes when I take care of myself and exercise. Kristin sometimes kicks me out of the house with my running shoes in tow. How is it that the people around me know that I am more tolerable when I've exercised, but I haven't quite put it into daily practice?? This is definitely something I need to keep in check for the rest of my life - an exercised Kyle is a happy Kyle. No excuses. If I don't have time for it, I need to make time. If I don't have the energy for it, I need to shut the hell up and just do it anyway. End of story.

The runs I had in London were incredible. One night I ran through Greenwich Park and found this awesome ass burning hill. I ran up it 6 times and then sat on a bench, crossed my legs and stared at the breathtaking view of the entire city. Another day I ran with the wonderful Karrie (physio for the men's team and my new buddy!) and we ended up on some random plot of land where more than 100,000 bodies were buried during the Great Plague of the 1600's. That was a little eerie feeling…

After having missed a few runs in London, I vowed to get right back into the running routine as soon as I got home. Sadly, the weather took a dip to the chilly side and Calgary became a deep freeze. The temperature was a bone chilling -35C. Brrrrrr. I was forced to hit the treadmill in our building's gym - and one thing you should know about me is that I am not a huge fan of running on treadmills. I'll do it when I have to, but that negative voice inside my head will do everything in it's power to try and detract me. Perhaps I should have thought it through more when I committed to running a May 6th Marathon. I knew I'd be running through January, February and March (Calgary's coldest and snowiest months), but I guess I didn't fully consider the ramifications. Oh well, it is what it is and I am in this for the duration, but treadmill running kills me. And it's even worse when the weather is cold and dry because I am prone to nose bleeds. 

For 3 days, I would run about 2 miles and then my nose would start to gush. In fact, one day it bled so hard and fast that nearly the entire treadmill running surface was covered in blood. Ick. That was not fun to clean up. I was beginning to think that the universe was trying to put a wrench in my marathon training plan…

Luckily, the weather started to warm up a bit and by Sunday I was able to hit the pavement again. Man, was that ever refreshing! I felt a total sense of joy and I instantly reconnected with my running goals. Cooper and Kristin came with me for the first few KM's and it was great to have them trotting along. After they were done and I had a few KM's left, I let my mind completely free-fall. I wasn't trying to solve or be attached to anything and I could feel ideas, motivation, understanding and creativity sloshing though my mind. It felt amazing and it made me excited about this upcoming week. There's nothing like a good run to feel grounded and alive.

So, the major lessons learned so far are:

1a. Run. Even when you think you don't have time or you don't feel like it. Just STFU and Run.
1b. Running (and exercise in general) always changes your mood for the better.
2. Run with cool people in cool places. 
3. The world is best discovered on foot.
4. Burn your ass off on hill runs and then sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
5. Stay committed and be patient. Around the corner from a few bad days is often a really great day. 
6. Bring kleenex and clotting apparatus when the air is dry ;)
7. Download some awesome tunes and podcasts to help make those deadly treadmill runs a little more managable…as much as I hate it, I can pretty much guarantee myself that there are a few more cold Calgary days to come.

105 more sleeps until I'm 30 years old and I run 42.2 KM's!


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