Thursday, March 31, 2011

Out like a lamb

Definitely, spring!
I can run in SHORTS!  Despite revealing the whiteness of winter legs and general lack of weird sports tans, I am ecstatic to ditch the tights for a while.  This month really has been neither too harsh or too hot, and the 2 week forecast looks promising.  I can deal with a little drizzle here and there, and at this point, if we were to get caught in a super-deluge, I almost have enough good humoured-ness to laugh at it all (note: there was no laughing in November through to February).

Things are busy around here!  In the lead up to the focus on the marathon May 1st, training has been geared toward marathon specific training.  Although I've done marathons year after year, this would be the first time I've actually done what I know now as 'marathon specific' training.  Before my runs would just consist of running further and further at the same pace, until I completed as close to 42.2 km without hurting myself.  Not that it was super easy, but my training time is shaped quite differently now.

I've gone through a couple speedy races, 5km's, both around Stanley Park, both quite competitive, and I've tried my best to pretend like I know what I'm doing.  Truth is, I don't really - I feel quite lost in a 5km race.  I know the pace I'm supposed to run, but to actually 'race' it - is hard to me.  Unfamiliar territory.  So needless to say I am happy to be heading back to a more familiar land this weekend - the half marathon.

This weekend's race is on the Sunshine Coast, a cute little half marathon between Gibsons and Sechelt.  I've run it twice before, and once with pretty poor pacing ("I'll aim for this time because I want to run this fast", no, you really can't) and I paid the price on the hills (contemplating walking or hiding in the port-a-pottie at the top of the hill).  Remembering how that felt, I'm feeling a little more confident about my training now and hoping it doesn't feel quite that bad (but anything can happen!).

This isn't the "A" race as that comes up at the beginning of May in the marathon in Eugene, OR.  But, the half a close cousin to the full, it will be a good opportunity to practice pacing, racing, and taking a trip to Toughsville.  You know, that place on the way to Hurtsville?  As the plan is not to annihilate myself and all my training, I really don't want to end up in Hurtsville, because I want to end up at the marathon May 1st .  I also would like to do the Sun Run April 17th, my truly first attempt at the Sun Run, and, my first 10km in almost a year.  Considering I still don't have a 10km time under 40 minutes (not even under 41!) it will be nice to test out the 10km and hopefully peg a time under 40.
you know, this little road race....

Amongst all the running shoes and lap splits, triathlon training continues - and it continues to be a great complement to run training.  It took me nearly 2 years (which is, the entirety of my self-taught swim experience) to enjoy swimming, and I've even managed to do it to the point of overdoing it, and had to take a week of rest to save my enthusiastic elbow and shoulder.  All better now, but I finally had a taste of feeling like I was missing out on my swim training.   An hour in the pool not only (hopefully) is making me a better swimmer, but I'm convinced it also does wonders for my tired legs.  It just seems to help recover happen better.  Now, if we could only convince Kits pool to open early...although I shouldn't complain - May 21st is coming and then outdoor swimming can begin.  I cannot wait.

One of the most exciting developments in my life is the arrival of a bike saddle that I don't want to get off of.  It is just truly miraculous.  I can't believe I spent so long on the old one, but, that's all behind me now.  Pun intended.  A bottomless subject.

The new seat is a beauty, and it's even pretty and white - for how long...who knows.  Now I can just focus on the cycling, as it is no longer how to best shift around on a saddle (that has once made me cry after hours of pain and suffering on the Island highway).  Now cycling is more a case of "shut up legs" - which is awesome!  I am happy to have the pain in my legs, and not the obvious, including weird back, neck, hand pain from sitting in such an improper position on the bike.  Hootenanny!

Sun + shorts + longer races coming up + awesome saddle + love swimming = pretty darn great times ahead.  Today's a little more restful than usual, which means I get to sneak in a quick update and catch up a bit more on my current book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver.  As we are starting to weed out the garden, buy seeds, and start planning "crops" (if crops can be 1square foot per crop), it has been a really interesting read.  

In general, there is a lot of criticism that can be dolled out about the food industry, and although the book doesn't harp on it needlessly, it does it purposefully, and lends it's purpose to the reason to consider local farming (best if it's your farm), farmer's markets, and spending that little bit extra on food that makes a difference.  I try to not become too radical or preachy about food, as it's such a screwed up commodity in so many spheres that I can't truly wrap my head around any one solid argument or movement, but this book has helped guide some of my thoughts, and some of my distress, around the food industry.

  Now you probably have to read the book to understand what I'm taking about (and I encourage you to do so)....but I stood in the produce store this week, staring at the cilantro, thinking that I'd like some, but that it wasn't really necessary.  I looked at the tag.  Mexico.  I looked at the price.  $0.59.  59 cents.  For a bushel of cilantro.  Picked by likely poorly paid labourers, shipping on gas guzzling trucks, through 3 countries (3!!), grown (and likely modified) to resist wilting, moulding, disease....and on and on.  I really don't like, in in the words of Owen Wilson (or perhaps Vince Vaughn), "taking a trip to negative town" but a lot of this stuff is true.  I just don't like thinking about because I really can't stand people that constantly rant and do NOTHING about it.  

So, with this knowledge in mind, the thing to do is clear - if you have dirt in your possession, you can grow something in it.  If you have a local farmer's market, you can buy things from it.  It costs more but you're really not losing money.  But I'm not going to explain why - I'd say pick up the book and learn whatever you want from it.  And I'm not perfect, and I certainly don't have an excess of cash flow, but I can look at where things are grown, make choices, and often, if you look at what is on sale at your local produce store or market - it's usually the things in season - which are really the right things to buy.  

Little changes lead to more little changes, all of which are manageable.  Like training, you just get a little bit better at something day by day, and when you can run certain race times in your sleep, you can manage this part of life, this ever important 'eating' part, on autopilot too.
not in season yet....they'll come out in Ironman Canada season though!

Eat real food!  And if I learned nothing from the Germans, I learned that spring ich Spargel und Erdbeeren time, ja!!  
Asparagus and Strawberries.  Eat them now!

Happy spring training!  Baseball started today too - it's definitely spring now!
Oh yeah, and there's this cool tid-bit of info a friend of mine told me about on the BCA blog

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