Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Topless Crew

Anyone walking through Stanley Park this evening must have thought there was some kind of camp guys' running club going on as this chain gang of topless fellas came storming through at five minute miling. We were flying, pushing each other hard and towing ourselves along in one long line of exalted brilliance.

There's something really empowering when you find a group of similarly paced runners who all want to lay it out on the line rep after rep. Without each other we wouldn't run as fast, train as hard or necessarily have that motivation to pull ourselves down to Stanley Park on a Thursday evening. Aside from Brad who ran the 10k at Longest Day, the other four of us were covered by just 18 seconds in the 5k, so we're all really close.

The warm was good, I felt pretty fresh, although finished needing a drink without a water fountain in sight - typical! It was great to have Ian Druce down training with us; a few of us were telling him to come along back at last week's 5k, and he was a very welcome addition to the group. Top bloke!

The session was 2 x 1.85 mile laps of the park, starting on the Rawlings trail by second beach before routing along the bottom before the slight drag up to the footbridge and back along the Lover's Avenue trail towards second beach.

Me chasing Graeme for fourth at Longest Day 5k

For rep one the chain gang of myself, Brad, Graeme, Paul and Ynuk started 15secs ahead of Jay. Instantly the pace was laid down by Mr Cunningham, obviously feeling good from his 10k last Friday. I slotted in alongside him but made a stupid error after half a mile when I nearly missed a right angled turn and had to play catch up. I returned on the back of Graeme who pulled us through the incline with his marathon strength which was much appreciated - the guy's an animal! Once over the 'hill' I felt pretty good and Brad and I worked hard on the final downhill stretch back to the finish - 9:17.

The mass start of rep two was a better paced affair. Jay stormed off as per usual and somehow I ended up at the front of our group, feeling really good, running fluently and striding out well. However once we hit the incline I went through a bad patch, probably from going off too hard, and really had to battle to hang onto Brad at the rear of the group. My head was rolling like Paula Radcliffe, much to my amusement. I felt better once we had got to the top again and gradually worked my way to the front before trying to pick it up in the final 400m with Ynuk on my shoulder - 9:20.

Ian (white vest), Phil (red vest), Ynuk (blue vest), Mike (red vest), Phil (blue vest) at Longest Day

A super session, not least because our working group stuck together for the entire rep. With Simon to add and a few guys getting quicker since their marathon endeavours, like Phil, we're going to have a crack team of running operatives before very long. Anyone else in Vancouver looking for some decent guys to train with, you know where we are! Hats off to Graeme and Paul who went out for a third rep, and came past us as we cooled down looking really good. I can't wait until I'm back in marathon training and hitting bonus loops!

Unfortunately my lower legs seem to be having a rough week. I postponed Tuesday's easy run by 24 hours as my left calf tightened up because of a broken cleat on my bike shoe which skewed my muscle; and during the session my popliteus on the back of my left knee was tightening up and it became very rigid on the warm down. Back on with the compression socks (left one rolled up to my thigh) and we'll see how it feels in the morning. Hopefully some knee extension on the easy ride into work will loosen it off!

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