Sunday, November 20, 2011

It makes me tougher

OK, time to dust the cobwebs off the ol' blog!  Seems like it's been awhile...

As much as I wanted to deny it's impending arrival, winter has finally arrived in Edmonton, as of last week.  Now, everything here looks like this:

Boo!  There was of course a storm on Thursday, the day I had to travel to Calgary for work.  That drive was not fun!  But I made it there safely and was very excited to see my brothers, who came and met me at the hotel for a gym workout and then dinner afterwards.  My drive home Friday night was white-knuckle-free, as the roads were clear!  Lots of travel for me lately since the week before last I was in Vancouver several days for another work trip/team building stuff.

My long run last Sunday was 2.5 hours, and it was one of those trying workouts that causes you to really have to dig deep and go to the well, both mentally and physically.  It wasn't horribly freezing yet (like it was this weekend!), but I probably should have had an extra layer as the wind was fierce!  25km/hr winds when it's just below zero feels really cold!  I started off that run not feeling overly great, but just kept pressing on and ended up on some deserted secondary highways north of St. Albert.  There is no shelter from the wind out there, and as soon as I turned back around after reaching the 'out' of my out and back, I was hit with a very strong headwind.

This was an excellent workout for me, as it forced me to work on the mental aspect of training and face the pain and suffering head on!  It's pushing through these tough moments and workouts that makes you stronger.  If it's easy-breezy conditions in training all the time, then you have no experience to deal with those challenging situations and tough times that are undoubtedly going to arise in the race.  The last 30min of the 2.5hr were at marathon pace, so I picked it up at that point despite being freezing and into a headwind, and was able to nail my goal marathon pace for those 30min.

If last Sunday's run was a test in mental training, then today counted as a senior level course in mental toughness!  Along with the first major snowfall of the season on Thursday came the arctic temperatures!  I was originally planning to do a 30-32km run today, but had to adapt the schedule due to the cold.  I was contemplating doing an indoor run on the treadmill, but didn't want to run that long inside, so I waited until it 'warmed up' to -18C (-22 with windchill) early this afternoon, then headed out for a goal of 2 hours.  Made it through 90min and called it a day.  It was freakin' cold!  My fingers were switching between the various stages of freezing, numbness, warming (short lived), and freezing again.   The wind, when it was in my face, was cold and vicious.   I was so glad to get inside after that to thaw out and warm up!  I made myself a hamburger and had a scalding hot shower for 20 minutes, which did the trick.

I'm a firm believer that this kind of $h!t makes you tougher.  When things get tough in that marathon, I'll think back to these couple of runs and recall how hard they were, and remind myself that I was able to get through those while still feeling strong.  Us Canadians living in these cold prairie provinces have access to free mental training in the form of winter running - might as well take advantage!