Thursday, April 22, 2010
It is 3:30 in the afternoon. The clouds continue to occupy most of the sky, although hints of a clear blue background momentarily interrupt. It is clearing to the West, where most of our weather systems here in Vancouver originate, and I am certain that things look promising for this evening. With that in mind, I feel the excitement enter my legs, perky up, awakening to the evening run to be had. Tonight’s goal was to hopefully find some speed. As such, I chose a route consisting mostly of gravel/ bark mulch through Bridgeman Park and Indian River Drive. This has become one of my favourite evening destinations as of late, because of its rolling hills and perfectly looping miles. For a trail runner who typically pines the mountains, it is an ideal venue for speed. It offers the forgiveness that asphalt fails to, while at the same time escaping the encroachment of cars and noises of city flurry. Furthermore, compared to the usual morning bustle of dog-walkers and families, the evenings are subdued and remote with only a few people meandering about... it is a treat indeed.
Leaving my house I jaunt up Grand Boulevard, hitting my usual two mile split at the gates to Loutette Park in 15:45. At the moment and for the time being, the legs feel light and alert, seemingly finding a comfortable cadence with ease. Rolling into Bridgeman Park, I decide to increase the pace, wanting to feel my breath and test the legs. Much to my delight, they react well, and I cruise for the next 6 miles, switching between acceptable 7:30’s and the periodical 7/ sub.
Although not common within my training week, these are wonderful efforts. They take me outside of my comfort zone, with few significant hills or unstable footing to slow me, and offer the excuse to relax the pace and alter the cadence. There is an odd sensation of running over such relatively flat and open terrain with perfectly miled stretches, it is just there, plain and simple, raw (?), waiting for you to exploit. You must remain consistent in your stride, unwavering in the turnover. While not my most sought after choice, on this evening I was able to extract a surprising amount of personal pleasure from this exercise. The miles streamed by, yet paradoxically, my mind was so focused. My thoughts were not wandering, quite contrarily, I was utterly focused on every step; tranquil, yet purposeful, matching stride for stride, mile for mile.
Finishing up at Bridgeman Park, I began the return trip home; up the not-so-insignificant 600 foot climb (over .80 miles stretch) to Loutette, perfectly retracing my steps. Expectedly, my pace slowed to a mere slog as I climbed my way forward. Contrasting with the rolling flats of Bridgman, the climb seemed a monumental endeavour. Eventually I crested the top, starting to subtly gasp for air, I internally rejoiced in the elation of finding flat ground once again. From there, I cruised in the last few miles, releasing the baggage in the legs. I tacked on an extra mile for aesthetic pleasure (for some reason 13 miles makes a lot more sense than 12) until finishing back home to my starting location (13 miles/ 1:41).
It was not until I stopped that my body began to revolt. I had taken no water for this run and had not eaten anything since 2-oclock (it was now 7:15pm); in retrospect, probably not the greatest of ideas. So it is... the satisfaction of the effort surely trumps any sensation of bonking at the end. Further, after chugging a glass of water then downing a glass of chocolate milk (a necessity in the fridge), these negative physiological feelings are quickly remedied and almost immediately forgotten. I whip together a quick bite, and then enjoy what part of the evening I have left, already thinking about tomorrow mornings run.