Sunday, February 1, 2015

Race Report: Steveston 8km Ice Breaker Road Race - February 1st, 2015

Today was my very first race of 2015, at the Steveston 8km Ice Breaker Road Race. This was a personal worst performance at an 8km race by a very long shot - I don't care to share my results here. But I am not at all upset about this. I haven't been feeling quick at all lately, but I cannot and do not expect to be fast given where I am at today. Despite that knowledge my race results today hurt the ego a little bit (my finish time resembled that of old training runs of mine - not races) but overall, I came home today happy. It's always wonderful to get back into the race scene after a hiatus; notable races in the Vancouver area are done by mid-November usually and my last race was at the end of October 2014. After 3 months of no races to speak of, it was nice to line up again. It was great to be part of the community of runners especially given that most of my running the last 3 months was done solo.

It was a dreary start to the day but the clouds decided to pause the rain for the duration of the race. It was mild and comfortable, warmer than I remember the race being the previous two years. I feel like this will be a race I continue to return to for the low price point, the timing to kick off the year, a distance I enjoy running, the fact it's part of the Lower Mainland Road Race Series, and it's an excuse to visit the town where I grew up in and lived about 25 years of my life. Plus it's a great community race that I care to support because it is affiliated with the Kajaks Track & Field club. Growing up in Richmond, I knew about the Kajaks athletes. Had I had any athletic inclination as a kid, I surely would have aspired to be part of Kajaks.

So why was I slow today? The key is that I didn't train for this race the way I normally would. In fact I could argue that I didn't train at all for this race. The last 3 months having no races was a time of "active rest" focused on studying to get my personal training certification at BCPTI and rebuilding strength in my right leg following my gradual return to running after the calf muscle tear last summer. Yes, I ran a couple races last October and was much faster then than now, but that was after a relatively shorter hiatus (about 3 weeks). Even though I was able to rebuild my running and race those events relatively fast, I had a lot of imbalances that needed addressing or I would risk further injury. My left leg was dominating everything and allowing me to power through my workouts. Meanwhile, I could barely balance my own body weight if I were to stand solely on my right leg; I would exhaust myself and fall over. Running requires the use of both my legs so I had to fix the problem before a new one would present itself.

 Given that I was studying to be a personal trainer and had my own issues to resolve, it made double sense to focus my workout time to the weight room over the roads. I could learn better what I was studying by practicing my skills in the weight room; I was taking into account what I knew about my body and what needed fixing, designing my own workouts, and testing them out on myself. I was still running, but mileage in November and December was very low. While I was consistently working out 5 days a week, only 2 or occasionally 3 of those workouts each week were runs and they were all short and easy efforts mostly between 6-10km. It was running to maintain a base level of cardiovascular fitness - but as a result, I lost my racing fitness. When I came back with a vengeance in January after passing my PT exam, I was suddenly hit very hard by the stomach flu. I was knocked right out, couldn't run for a week and I came back with slow legs after days of poor nutrition.

The good thing is that through my focus on strength work at the gym, I have addressed many of my imbalances. I'm not perfectly aligned or anything - still have a bit of a lateral pelvic tilt issue happening which is much improved from before and still being addressed through chiropractic care and specific exercises. But I am much much stronger than I think I've probably ever been and noticeable imbalances are dissipating. I'm quite impressed with how much I can lift, push, pull etc., and feel rather athletic and now knowledgeable too when I'm in the weight room.  

I went for my very first speed workout with my running group in over 3 months this past Tuesday and this was where it sank in that today's race was going to be slow. That was my worst performance at a Tuesday clinic run too. At first I was very angry at myself. But again, how can I be angry at myself? If I truly respect the training I do to get myself in my best racing shape then I can't really expect to be in great racing shape from NOT doing the training. That type of training has value. Without the training, the performance simply can't follow. If it did, why bother with training?

The good news is twofold - on my very slow intervals on Tuesday, coach John was very encouraging. He might have been a bit frustrated with me for being so hard on myself and negative out loud ( was a rough workout) but he managed to encourage me. He told me my running form was excellent - I was running with symmetry. This is very good news for someone working very hard to correct imbalances. I didn't think to ask if he'd noticed me previously running noticeably asymmetrically, but I can assume so.

Second piece of good news is that I am now ready to and have already started to take my training to the next level. With consistency the next few months, my speed will come back. I have the muscle memory and ability, now I just have to build my fitness and endurace back to where it was so I can maintain speed over racing distance. This will come back. This is what I'm made for.

Next race is in a month, the West Van Run 5K, which will be a good test to see where I am at after a month of consistency before the St. Patrick's Day 5K 2 weeks later. The latter is where I currently hold my 5K personal best. I have some work to do, but I have a plan and the determination to get there! I don't expect PR performances in March, but I do think I can get much closer to where I was with a little faith and a lot of hard work.

1 comment:

  1. St. Patty's 5k is a wonderful goal race to be back close to where you were before. Even better, it is perfectly acceptable (expected?) to enjoy an 11am beer after you demonstrate all your awesomeness