Sunday, May 27, 2012

Two in One Day

Well, the last couple of months have been interesting here in my world.  I started a new job, which turned out to be more of an adjustment than I'd anticipated. Oh, and I decided to try coming off one of my medications again.  That worked really well until it didn't.  I am in fact still trying to get over that little mistake. Lesson learned I guess, which is a bit of a disappointment, but right now I'm just busy trying to get things back to normal.  That and trying not to feel fed up with being problematic.

Anyhow, on to other things.  Through everything one thing that has remained constant has been my running. I might be feeling way too heavy, I might be feeling slow, and I may have had some bad runs, but at least I've still been getting out there.  When I'm not in the right headspace for 5.30am starts and hardcore group training sessions it's good that I've been able to hang onto at least that.

A few weeks ago the squad ran up to Colonial Knob. My legs were shattered from the start and I crumbled on the stairs, eventually limping my way up to the Knob well behind everyone else, then running slowly back down with the stitch.  I got in the car and drove home trying not to snivel and feeling quite demoralised.  In that mindframe (and with my legs even more shattered) there was no way I was getting up to run even the short Xterra Woolshed run the next day.  The squad reported back that both options were hard and horrid, so staying in bed didn't seem such a bad thing.

Since then I've had both good runs and bad runs, but I've been finding my legs haven't been recovering that quickly and that I've had to take a bit more rest as a result.  I had a brilliant run up Transient, Highbury Fling and the Rollercoaster trails in Aro Valley, then had an ok run up Mt Victoria the next day.  I followed that with a brilliant run up around Wadestown on a perfect autumn evening (of which there's been rather a large number this year).  Unfortunately all those hills caught up with me when Duck had us running up nearly every flight of stairs in town on Wednesday night.

Thursday was a rest day, and my legs were exhausted.  Duck and I had a session on Friday morning - yet another beautiful autumn morning.  We mostly worked on my upper body - especially my shoulders, but there must have been just enough leg stuff to ensure that when I went out to run yesterday that I was still feeling tired. Oh well, nothing to be done and two runs to get under my belt.

8am Saturday morning saw the squad assembling at a calm, crisp Days Bay.

We ran a variation of Butterfly Creek, entering at the bus depot, and coming out at McKenzie Road.  We ran (and walked) straight up over 200 metres, then it was down into a lovely flat to undulating section of bush trail that was even under foot and quite blissful. Unfortunately the downhill meant one last climb up again, although easier than the initial climb.  From there it was down an at times steep trail down to McKenzie Rd, then a short road run back to Days Bay again and cups of hot tea.

The hills were hard, primarily due to my tired legs, but I had a blast running through the valley along the stream.  The trails were in an excellent state and I finished feeling quite invigorated.  Except of course that wasn't where things finished ...

Later that day I was on my way to Karori to take part in yet another Xterra run, this time the Starlight Run in the Makara mountain bike park. I was feeling quite nervous as this was my first nighttime trail run.

This year the Xterra crew were victims of their own success.  Nearly 300 runners turned up, with registration running overtime.  In the end those of us who had already registered walked up the road to the start, where we waited for stragglers.  The long course eventually left, looking quite impressive as they all streamed up the four wheel drive trail, and then a few minutes later we short course runners were let loose.

My feelings about this run are mixed.  Ulimtately, as a slow trail runner, I would not do this course again in this format.  The trails just aren't wide enough for that number of runners. We short coursers started off running the same route as the long coursers, but turned sooner to loop back around.  Unfortunately the long course was not sufficiently longer, and the gap between the two waves not long enough.  After we'd run up the four wheel drive track, followed by a bit of a downhill, we turned onto a narrow and twisty single track.  Almost immediately we were being passed by long course runners.  I added a good ten minutes or so just moving to one side and slowing to let runners through.  I was accompanied by a man with his young son and he was getting quite irate - almost to the point where if a passing runner had said the wrong thing I think he would have had a go at them.  He wasn't exactly being encouraging of his son either and I wouldn't blame the kid if he never wanted to run again, but that's another story.

My problems were exacerbated by equipment issues.  My headlamp wasn't bright enough and the torch I was supplementing it with wasn't much additional help.  To add to that about halfway through my headlamp started falling down my forehead and hitting my glasses.  I spent a few kilometres pushing it back up until I eventually just took it off and held it.

I can't be too hard on myself.  Given the vertigo issues I'm having at the moment, my poor eyesight, and my general clumsiness I did something amazing just being out there at all.  Even going over hard at one point didn't stop me.  There were runners coming up behind me so I just got up and kept on running. I ran as much as I could, even when my running pace wasn't much faster than a walk.  I tried not to let the constant sound of runners coming up behind me freak me out too much, and I tried not to freak out too much when I was running on my own with no one else around me.

By the time we got to Lazy Fern though I have to admit I was a little bit over it.  The run was supposed to be 5 to 6km, but in the end was 8, which meant I ran 18k all up yesterday. No wonder I was a bit tired!  I passed a couple of women with a young girl at a junction in the trail debating whether to take a shortcut back to the start.

I walked a fair bit of Lazy Fern, then in my eagerness to get back to the finish ran faster than I really should have back down the four wheel drive track to the finish.  At the end I grabbed a cup of sports drink then extracted myself from a conversation with another runner acquaintance. By the time I'd walked back down to the car I was freezing.  I cranked up the car heater and drove back to Brooklyn where I stopped for dinner.  The shop had a gas heater going so I stood inches from it thawing out.  By the time I got home it was raining fairly steadily.

So there it was, my first night run.  Today my right hip flexor hates me, and last night I had the worst charlie horse in my right calf.  Thankfully today's been horridly windy and wet, so hanging out on the sofa hasn't been a hardship.  If I'm going to do a run like that again I'm going to have to get a better lamp, and I need to practice!  Oh, and if I'm going to keep running up multiple big hills I'm going to have to lose some weight.

But first I have to hang on till the medication starts working properly again.  Only about another week with any luck!