Monday, March 28, 2011

Valley Inn Road Existential Crisis

Valley Inn Road is the notorious hill on the notorious and “Older than Boston” Around the Bay Road Race (30 k) – always the last Sunday in March before shipping starts to the reference bay. I have done this race 6 years in a row now. There is no other race that I have committed to on a yearly basis since THE CHANGE (lifestyle, not hormones), and every year, it kicks my ass at the 20 k mark when the hills start. It kicks everyone’s ass but my ass seems to be more bruised than anyone else’s. Now, I find hills hard and perhaps that has to do with my complete lack of flexibility in my calves;  Alex, he’s nothing but flexible calves and up he goes with his heels actually still making contact with the road. My heels, when climbing hills, seem to be hovering somewhere around my ears. I think this might be a disadvantage but, can’t blame it all on the heels. Today, the only reason I can see is that I just suck.

Pity party at 8pm, casual dress.

I kept up a 3 hour pace until the hills kicked in. My awesome running partners, including my pilates instructor who was running her first race ever, were great in letting me catch up, reeling me in and pulling me along but after 20k they couldn’t help but drop me if they wanted their 3 hour time so I put the music in the ears and chugged away on my own. I had thought that the 4th in our group had also dropped me, and finding out later that I actually pulled ahead of her, I regretted not stopping to let her catch and because I think that would have helped both of us. I should have been more giving instead of assuming that I was last.

So, onwards, upwards and downwards I went feeling more and more tired and just emotional about it all. I tossed down some lovely Clif blocks to see if sugar would make my brain happy but just found it hard to chew with a chocked up throat. A little bit of asthma came to the party as well, ‘cause, hey, why leave that out. But the time I got to the top of the last hill with not much more than 3 km left to go I had lost it. All those weeks that Alex has been working out of town all week only to return on weekends when I did nothing but run, well, they just started to become too high a price to pay for such a crappy time. I became the crazy chick crying behind her sunglasses. Every freaking positive song on the ipod just sounded like it was mocking me and I just turned it off and went into survival mode. I stopped looking at my watch and calculating my finish time. I didn’t give a crap any more.

And in the end, here’s the thing. IT’S ALL SO FREAKING HARD. It is. I’m fitter than the average 47 year old for sure but it’s been hard fought. Getting to Ironman was the hardest thing that I think I’ve done as an adult. It was also the most rewarding but…damn it…it took me 16.5 hours. On a relatively easy course. In perfect weather. I want to take 2 hours off the thing this year but after yesterday’s performance I’m just not sure. I’m not sure of anything.

Hollywood has sold us all this fable, 3 acts to greatness, underdog gets an idea in her head, trains for the big day and triumphs over all adversity and adversaries. But it’s just a lie. If you sucked in sports in high school, you will suck at sports in your 40’s and nothing seems to change that. Nothing. I know that the fast ones, the elites, they work hard, they train, they sacrifice, they believe in themselves but they don’t bring up the rear. The rear is ugly. Glory is thin on the ground by then.

I just don’t know what to do about my 50 miler. I have 2 months, we have so much work to do on our northern cottage estate (ha) and I really just want to get started triathlon training. I want to mix it up. I’m so sick of just running and running and running. It all just hurts now.

I look back at what I’ve written lately and it’s all so negative. I don’t seem to be having fun and I know that a non-sport related part of my life has to change and has been a darkness on everything for a while, but, it’s also hard to think about that when I run, I’m tired, I run, I’m tired...

Gotta go pick out an outfit for the pity party. I’ll be serving sour grapes and a lot of whine.


  1. Enjoy your party and then calculate your next plan of attack. Think of this as good ironman training for how to dig yourself out of a dark hole. I have confidence that no matter what you choose you'll be fine.

  2. Thanks Molly. I'm thinking some EPO and steroids as well - they don't check age groupers you know.

  3. You whine like a mule.

    Nobody cares how long it took you to finish an Ironman. You finished. Period. WIN!

    Nobody cares how long it took you to finish ATB. You finished. Period. WIN!

    Now of course we all have a set of goals at each event, and yeh it looks liked you sucked real bad on Sunday. Read bad. (ha!)

    So now its time to analyze what you have learned! Either one of three things have happened here:

    1) You just had a bad day. So the race landed on a low-energy day and the universe conspired against you. Everyone has good days and bad days, get over it!

    2) You didn't train hard enough. Did you actually stick to the plan? Honestly? How many workouts did you skip? Dont lie to yourself now, be honest. Put the hard work in and the results will show. If you feel you put the hard work in, then refer back to #1. If you feel you didn't put the work in, refer to #3.

    3) You want to goto Disneyland. You know, everyone wants to goto disneyland but does anyone actually have a plan to get there? They say they want it but dont do anything towards that goal. That brings us back to your underdog theory like you're magically gonna win or something. There is no secret.
    Hard work = results.
    Get motivated. Review your training plan and execute it to the best of your ability. You know you can do this. I'm totally guilty of #2 & #3 last year at IM Muskoka. I finished, but well behind what I magically thought would happen. I totally fudged the training plan, I admit it was my fault.

    Oh and ummm you never answer my comment from awhile ago - which 50miler were you looking to do? I would love to come watch if its in the area. Are you doing an Ironman this year? I dont know what your race schedule is like. Too bad you didn't say something ahead of time, you could have met my wife and I on Sunday. You suck! lol :)

    Enjoy your partay!

  4. Speaking about Hollywood, I've found this quote from the "League of Their Own" movie:
    "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great."

    We all have some great races and some that are not so great. You just had one that did not work as planned. Don't let it affect you more than it should.

    Maybe a change in the training plans would help, but just keep on running and the PRs will come soon enough!

  5. John - thanks. I love that answer. Doru, thanks for the new quote.

    Answers are: Sulpher Springs 50 miler but probably going to be 50 k now, and yes, doing Ironman Arizona again this year. Magically I'm going to do it in 12 hours. :)

    I have been putting in the km but just doing the usual ultra training program of just running long. It felt so differend from Ironman training with more intervals, fewer junk miles, etc. Going to get back into the 3 sports and get my head out of my ass.

  6. Oh and John, love to meet your wife. You, however, are clearly a freak so...