Six more sleeps to Hamilton Marathon and you know what? It's taper, bitch! Which makes me feel very much like this:
I was supposed to do all kinds of workouts: strength training, a bit of biking, a bit of swimming, speedwork, fartleks on a hilly route, easy run, long progressive run, even a short recovery run. But life and work got in the way and although I could have sacrificed a few things here and there to get all my workouts in, I chose to listen to my body and not overdo it because let's be honest here, the last two months have not been easy, despite cutting the training volume in half.
Monday I was supposed to run 12km easy, which I ended doing on Tuesday because Monday night there was a lot of rain and wind and I was not in the mood to fight either of them. Tuesday I also went swimming and had my second private lesson with Sean Bechtel, a pro athlete who gives swimming lessons at a pool about 3 min away from my house. He also took video and for the first time ever I could see myself underwater. You can watch his video analysis here (he said much more while I was there). Bottom line, I've got work to do. This was in the morning, and in the evening, as soon as I came home from work, I changed into my running clothes and literally ran out the door. I really needed to de-stress and wanted to do the run around Professor's Lake before the nightfall. Mission accomplished.
On Wednesday I was supposed to do Yasso's on the track (10x800m with 400m recovery). Yeah, right. I'm not sure why, but I didn't go... I must have been tired and watched Netflix instead. Oops, no, it was Zin's birthday and we all went to the restaurant and ate a lot. On Thursday, it was group swim in the evening with the tri club and I should have done a short recovery run as well. But I ended taking my older son to the hospital for an MRI (he had been scheduled for that night) and again, no workout.
Which brings us to Friday and I knew that I had to play catch up. 14km Fartleks on a hilly route were on the menu. After lots of negotiations with hubby, we ended going together after our regular Tim Hortons dinner. We bickered the whole time and despite going around the lake again, I had a miserable time. I was feeling tired and defeated and didn't want to be there. Anyway, got it done and we did not kill each other.
Saturday came and even though coach was optimistic and wrote a 2h ride outdoors in the program, I ended doing 1h on the trainer (which was the suggested alternative by the way). Too cold, too windy, a recipe for disaster, so I passed on the fall foliage and fresh air.
And finally Sunday and the last long run before the mini one week taper. 22km progressive run which was supposed to go like this: 3km easy, 6km marathon pace, 10km 1/2 marathon pace, 3km easy. Coach loves these killer workouts and I never doubt him anyway, so I was ready for it. But in my infinite wisdom, I decided to run on the Etobicoke Trail, which comes with its own hills of death. Just because my Fartleks were not hilly enough on Friday. Talk about being masochistic.
Anyway, I suited up for the run, took a few Clif Blocks, a gel and two bottles of water and off I went. Easy pace, 6:15min/km as usual, then after 3km I switched gears to marathon pace. I was aiming for 5:55min/km, but I ended running at 5:45min/km. I just could not dial back and hit the right pace, not easy when it goes up and down...Then it was time to go even faster to 1/2 marathon pace, and based on my last half, 5:37min/km seemed like a good pace to be at. My GPS watch was all over the place, again because of the hills, so I had no clue how fast I was going, but the average was around 5:35. The turn around point happened to be after a big hill and I was huffing and puffing and really struggling with the change in incline. I ran 1 more km like this, then looked at my heart rate and realized that I was way up in Zone 5 and hell knows for how long I had been hanging in there. I tried to slow down, but the heart rate would not follow. Eventually I told myself, I'm done with this, I'll just try to make my way back home without passing out.
It was really tough, the last 10k felt like a death march. What kept me moving was the fact that I know that this is supposed to happen during the last 10km of a marathon. And with this workout I managed to get to that dark place, where the only thing that mattered was to put a foot in front of the other. It ended being my fastest training run over 20km with an overall pace of 6:04min/km, but it absolutely killed me. My season is complete, I met my goal, even if I didn't run the marathon yet. I survived the toughest mental struggle while running this year, which came close to the experience I had riding the Muskoka bike course for the first time. And it wasn't even during a triathlon. I told my coach earlier this year that I needed this as I knew that it would prepare me mentally for whatever is yet to come, aka the Ironman. It's like a check mark on my training calendar: sufferfest done. Now all I need is to put it in practice once more at the Hamilton Marathon.
It will be easy to spot us. Look for Carol and I yelling at the water stations: