A lot happened between the end of July and the end of November which meant I didn't get a chance to return, but last night made up for it and reminded me why running is so awesome, even when you're relatively unfit.
Surprisingly I ended up being the top runner there and Coach John made me hurt by setting me off at the back with the aim of catching up the guys and girls in front. He sure knew what would motivate me having had six weeks of very little training, but there's nothing like some healthy competition to get the blood pumping and the legs moving, and once the first rep got underway I was able to get into that trance like state and go through the motions.
After a solid five mile warm up we launched into a four mile tempo, complete recovery, one mile tempo, complete recovery, one mile tempo. Six miles of balls to the wall effort with a real killer to start with - pacing a four mile stretch is hard to do when you have no concept of how fit you are and what your body can do.
I started thirty seconds behind the decent guys and decided to ease my way into the tempo; but of course I went out like a bat out of hell and then had to settle into a rhythm. At the half way turn around I finally passed the last of the group ahead of me and had made my thirty seconds up, probably too quickly. Heading back along the sea wall was very unnerving with cars coming towards me with their lights on full beam and not being able to see the holes and drains in the dark. I had to back off a little bit just to keep my nerves in one piece; the prospect of tripping did not appeal!
Once at the three mile mark I found myself running at a fair lick without too much trouble. I was breathing heavily and my legs were tired but I knew I could maintain the pace to the finish. Sure enough I finished the rep in 22:08 (5:32 per mile average), somewhat surprisingly decent with all things considered.
The Olympic rings shine out over Vancouver
One thing that really inspired me when hitting the rep was the beautiful sight of the Olympic rings floating out in Coal Harbour, just off the sea wall. Suddenly it was this light in the darkness, the Olympic dream shining out, the iconic symbol of effort, hard work and prowess for all to see. It really fired me up, the realisation that everywhere in the world there are people putting themselves through hardship as they try and attain their personal goals.
Next came the first of the mile reps and God was it painful. I started ten seconds down on the guys and clawed back half of their advantage relatively quickly before finding the going extremely hard. Thankfully I hit the main traffic at half way and had a chance to recover slightly as I moved through the group before pushing on again. With a few hundred metres to go I went for home and made my way to the front hitting 5:10 (for 1.03 miles according to my GPS).
On the return I felt decidedly lousy and couldn't get onto the back of the guys in front. I should have buried myself early on to make contact and then hung on for the finish, but instead I started steady and tried to build up the pace. Having not done much mileage my legs were exhausted by this point and although I got close with 200 metres to go I couldn't finish fast enough despite clocking a solid 5:13.
Jogging home my right knee started to seize up and some 'runner's knee' I had been experiencing came to the fore, however with some strengthening exercises I hope this will pass relatively quickly and without too many consequences. All in all though 13 miles of running and feeling decidedly good for someone who hasn't done much since the marathon. No complaints, I just need to find a routine and get into it.