Monday, June 28, 2010

Smackdown in the Sun

I thought I'd write about two things that pretty much sum up where my head is at the moment. I'm totally excited about trying to improve at 5k. I raced the Canada Day 5k last Sunday. It's an annual fund-raising fun run (for the ACT Cancer Council), and happily for me, only the times of the first 25 men and women in the 5 and 10k races are recorded. I timed myself at 23:31 — a small improvement on my CRRF race. Started fast (4:16 first k) and died an ugly death in the hills with 5:16 for the fourth kilometre.

I'm reading a novel. My generous Minnesotan sister Anne gave it to me. It's Once a Runner, by John L. Parker Jr. I've just read chapter 17 — Breaking Down — in which the protagonist Quenton Cassidy is left in a broken state by seriously difficult training.
"The toll on the runner — and those around him — was high, psychologically as well as physically. He became weak, depressed; he needed twelve to fourteen hours of sleep a night. He was literally desperate for rest, spent his waking hours with his legs elevated, in a state of general irritability. He became asexual, rendered, in the words of the immortal limerick, really quite useless on dates. He was a thoroughly unpleasant person."
Now quickly I must say, I hope that doesn't apply to me. I do however, regard myself as a serious runner. I hate offering (and generally never do) excuses for a poor performance. Later in the same chapter, the inevitability of training that serious runners do is talked about:
"Quenton Cassidy knew what the mystic-runners, the joggers, the runner-poets, the Zen runners, and others of their ilk were talking about. But he also knew that their euphoric selves were generally nowhere to be seen on dark, rainy mornings. They primarily wanted to talk it, not do it. Cassidy very early on understood that a true runner ran even when he didn't feel like it, and raced when he was supposed to, without excuses and with nothing held back. He ran to win, would die in the process if necessary, and was unimpressed by those who disavowed such a base motivation. You are not allowed to renounce that which you never possessed, he thought."

The other thing I'm thinking about is how, as an older runner, to run faster. There was a link on Flo's blog to a July/August 2010 Running Times article about running form. It's a great read. In it there's talk about running economy, and how the body becomes economical (with energy use) after doing many years of running. Pete Magill says "This belief system that just doing it over and over is somehow going to make us better is really crazy. Long-time runners actually suffer from the body's ability to become efficient. You become so efficient that you start recruiting fewer muscle fibres to do the same exercise, and as you begin using less muscle fibres you start to get a little bit weaker." This is where I am right now.

Next Saturday morning I have a 10k race at the Gold Coast. I challenged Robert Song to a race in the Half Marathon, but have decided to race the 10k. So now I have a showdown with Jojo — the Smackdown in the Sun. She's an 800m runner with a 10k PB of 44:35. I'm decidedly nervous about the outcome. I fear that I'll be buying the cappuccinos.

I was a fast runner back in 1852
Hitting the wall 4k into the Canada Day 5k


Blogger TokyoRacer said...

Good luck in the Smackdown. Run with no excuses and with nothing held back.

10:58 pm  
Blogger Girl In Motion said...

Wow, you get some really good race photos, even if they are labeled as "Hitting the wall". I also found that portion of the form article really interesting and of course, it makes total sense.

Did you see the 2nd installment of Paige Higgen's form makeover? This one includes video, good stuff!!

11:22 pm  
Blogger Robert James Reese said...

Good luck with the 10K. And, enjoy the cappuccinos regardless of who ends up buying them...

I enjoyed "Once a Runner" a lot. But, like so many books like that, it made me nostalgic for a track/cross country experience that I never had.

5:26 am  
Blogger Ali said...

Canada Day Run ... ah how great is that.

I might be doing a half on Canada Day.

Good luck with the Smackdown.

5:52 am  
Blogger Love2Run said...

Canada Day is July 1st here in Canada! Nice to see it celebrated 'down under'!
You don't need reminding how we ofter keeping doing the same old while expecting something different. You'll break out of your rut somehow! Fight hard!

10:25 am  
Blogger strewth said...

With all the sunshine and warmth we're hoping for at the Gold Coast you will get a new lease of life. Good luck with your challenge. No matter what happens we will all be having good cappuccinos and plenty of them! :)

11:30 am  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

Strangly enough I bought that same book about 3 months ago, read the 1st chapter, thought it looked good, and haven't picked it up since. Too tired with training I suppose.

You'll do fine in the 10K in GC if I know you the prospect of having to put your hand in your pocket should be motivation enough to win that one!

11:51 am  
Blogger trailblazer777 said...

Thats a 31 second improvement on the last major 5k race, so thats progress...way to go. keep at it. maybe see what tesso is doing she seems to be improving a lot! Good photo.

Crazy is doing the same thing again and again expecting a different result.

Intervals and hills is the way to go if improvement is wanted.

Looks like a nice linear progression;
Two 5k races, move up to the 10k at gold coast, then the half at Melbourne. Sounds good to me....

remember that your most important opponent is yourself, and you are in a far better place than if you were not running. Wish I was at GC, one of our WA bloggers is going after another sub 3 marathon...

keep at it, but look for a new edge, and the rewards should come.

11:56 am  
Blogger Sling Runner said...

I heard about the book, but am too lazy to order from amazon.

Good luck in the 10k smackdown :)

4:30 pm  
Blogger Robert Song said...

Disappointed I won our version of the smackdown on a forfeit. It was a once in a life time opportunity for you. Do I still get a cappacino?

8:30 pm  
Blogger jojo said...

i love the title
-someone has to buy the capuccinos(mine's a hot choccy or a coke zero BTW)
ps you are the distance runner, so if you have me in sight with 1-2kms to go, i fear i will be the one opening my purse(which fortunately the cabbie retrned after i lost it)..
maye it will be a sprint finish-altho it may look like slow MO
bring it!!!
ps im an older runner too you know..... i run in the masters

9:51 pm  
Blogger Ewen said...

Thanks Bob. There will be NO excuses, and NOTHING held back!

Flo, no I hadn't seen that second part about Paige's makeover. Both videos are enlightening. I suspected she might feel "like crap" in the early weeks/months of the new form. Persistence is key to having the new movement feel natural.

Thanks Robert. Having never run in school, it makes me nostalgic for that experience too.

Ali, and Mike... happy Canada Day on July 1! The embassy imports "gallons" of maple syrup for the post event pancakes :)

Strewth, I'll get a new lease of life if I'm not woken up at 8am in the morning after partying the night before ;)

Scott, you're sounding a bit like the pirate from that limerick. You know my base motivation well!

Thanks Jonathon. Any improvement is always encouraging. I'd like Tesso's 5k time - she's running well.

Thanks Sling. I have another book to read - on the balcony in the sun at the Gold Coast :)

Yes Robert Song. As much as it pains my wallet, I admit defeat on forfeit. You get a regular cappuccino.

Hot choccy it is Jojo! I'd love it to come down to a sprint finish, as I think all your anaerobic energy will have been used trying to stick with me for 10k ;)

11:00 am  
Anonymous Jaymee said...

Ewen, I'm afraid that I'm with Scott and found the book to be a bit dull. Got about two chapters into it and stuck it on the nightstand drawer. Might be time to pull it back out. I do like the quotes you pulled from it, and I agree that you are a serious runner.

I still have to look at the form stuff that Flo linked to, but I appreciate the concept already. This is what my coach is doing with me right now--novel stimulus to recruit different muscles and/or use the same ones in new ways. We'll see if it works for me.

Can't wait to hear how the smack down shapes up.

11:10 am  
Blogger Scott Brown said...

I wonder why, when people say they agree with me they always have to preface the coment with expressions like:

"I'm afraid I'm with Scott..."

"I hate to agree but Scott's right"

"Although it pains me, I'm siding with Scott"

"It might sound crazy but Scott has a point"

You know that even a broken clock is right two times a day so don't be "afraid" people, by all means agree with me, take a chance ;)

12:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose the evocatively titled Smackdown in the Sun is now history, and I hope it went well. The 5K on Canada Day and your renewed enthusiasm are an indication that the tide is turning.

7:24 am  
Blogger Ewen said...

Jaymee, at least the nightstand drawer is better than the recycling bin ;)

I totally agree with you Scott. You do have a point. It's just that I'm not sure what it is ;)

Canute, sadly I had an off day on the Gold Coast. In spite of a slow race, my enthusiasm remains high.

6:36 pm  

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