Monday 25 March 2013

Mar 24/13 - Around the Bay!

   The week culminated 8 months of hard training with the Around the Bay race in Hamilton. Good news, bad news. We'll get to that in a bit. Let me talk about the week of training first.

   Monday and I was destroyed from work as usual. Decided to opt out of my weight training for a yoga session. Good change of plans as I actually felt revitalized after. Just what my body needed.

   Tuesday nights are usually time off right now while I wait for skateboarding weather to arrive. This week because of my race on the weekend I used this night for cycling to give myself Saturday to rest up for ATB. Chris and I did a 30 minute spinerval video of intervals. Normally no big deal, but this night I came home a little stressed out from the day and decided to have some of Chris' fresh baked banana bread and a cup of coffee. Yep right before interval training. I'm an idiot. I pushed through all 8 of the intervals even after extreme nausea set in around interval 4. By the time 30 minutes was up I climbed off my bike and collapsed in a heap on the floor, not to move for almost half an hour. 

I layed there...

And layed there. Pouring cold sweat, trying desperately not to vomit.

Safe to say I won't be eating or drinking acidic things before doing intervals again.

   Wednesday I came home from a tough day again at work in a bad mood. Not usually the case for me, so I decided to run it out. Since I had a race this weekend I should be lowering the intensity a bit, but I needed to get out of my negative head space. I ran 8kms of hills and stairs in just over 45 minutes. I felt great when I got home. Still healing a strained gastrocnemius (calf) muscle I kept close attention to it, but I felt ok during the run. Iced and foam rolled when I got home.

   Thursday I came home to an under-the-weather Christine so I decided to bail on my swim workout to take care of her and keep her company. I'm nothing without my teammate so she will always come first. Glad to say she's back on top of the world again!

   Friday nights are always a night off and after a tough week at work it was most needed. Headed out to see Chris' friend "Forkfarm" rapping at Club Absynthe. Gotta say I was a little apprehensive because I hadn't been anywhere that serves alcohol since quitting drinking a couple years ago. The night turned out fun and the music was awesome.

  Saturday was race kit pick-up day. They put on a running expo of sorts at Copps Coliseum where you get your kit from. I found a couple of great solutions to my problems there. First I found headphones called Yurbuds. They are basically a rubber cover for earbuds that lock into your ears and never pop out! I also found a specific muscle roller I had been trying to buy in Canada called Muscletract. It consists of 4 knobby wheels between two handles. Unlike foam rollers it's design really allows deep fascia (tissue) massage, preventing scar tissue or adhesions between muscles and their sheathes to form. I truly believe in the powers of massage and rolling for maintenance, injury prevention and healing. I went for a long walk in the sun that afternoon wearing my five finger shoes. I noticed my knees were clicking and felt as if they were popping in and out of joint. It seemed to be occurring mostly to my right knee. I have had so many knee injuries including ACL, PCL and meniscus tears that I chalked it up to that and continued my walk. I hope you're noticing the foreshadowing.

"I see the train a comin" - Johnny Cash
   Sunday was race day. I was calm, cool and collected at the start line. There was an ocean of people and I could really feel I was a part of something so much bigger than myself. All 6000+ of us were connected in the challenge we were about to embark upon. Some were looking to win, others just to finish. I was looking for under 3 hours. The horn sounded and the ocean began to swell and move forward. It had begun. I knew the first 20km would be no issue unless my calf strain reared it's ugly head. This was a big part of my decision to run at a conservative 6 min/km pace. I felt really good as we left the start so I decided to pick up my pace to build a buffer of sorts in case things started to get really ugly towards the end. I held more or less a 5:30 min/km pace for the first 10km and then something very unexpected happened. I saw lights for a train crossing begin to flash up ahead, but I thought they wouldn't let a train come through a race...would they? Yep. Just as I reached the tracks the train came barreling through dissecting the pack of runners in half like a frog in biology class. I stopped my watch. For me, the official time wasn't important. I had a personal goal of under 3 hours and if I was going to lose 4 minutes as this train passed I wasn't counting it on my end. I used the time to stretch, eat a gel and chuckle as many of the runners began to have melt-downs, careening their necks to search for the end of the train. It came, the gates went up and a new mass start commenced. Here we go again. 

I see my pacers just ahead!
I made it to the 15km mark after spotting my friend Lonnie along Beach Blvd taking photos of the race, I was at 1:15:00 clock time. I was about 3-4 minutes back from the start so I figured I was right on pace for my goal. I began pushing a little harder to continue building my buffer. I noticed the aches and pains creeping in around the infamous kilometer 19. this is where the giant rolling hills of North Shore Blvd begin, as well as the pain. If you had any good feelings left in your body by this point you should simply kiss them goodbye and embrace the pain cave. I did just that and ran directly in. For the next 11km I simply detached myself from my surroundings, received the pain signals from my legs & feet and ran. The last uphill battle at Valley Inn Road, lovingly referred to as "Death Hill" had many runners becoming walkers. I had never walked this hill even once in training and it sure as hell wasn't going to be today. In addition to my pride I knew Chris and her friend Steph were waiting at the top to pace me in the last 4km. I spotted them as I reached the top and then leaped into action. Not 100m later I was stopped dead by a hamstring cramp. "Shit!" I thought. Not now, not after all this... a hamstring cramp takes me out?? I stretched and massaged it feverishly. I had to do this. I just had to. The ladies coaxed me on. I was practically begging them to let me walk, but Steph knew the pace I needed to get in under 3 hours and I could tell by the way she was religiously checking her watch that she wasn't going to let me fail. The last 2km was a total nightmare of agony. I had never wanted to stop doing anything so bad while simultaneously wanting to keep going so much. The two of them left me as I entered the finish corral and I was alone again for the last 500m. Down the ramp into Copps and around the corner there it was. More beautiful than the Aurora Borealis, the time clock of the finish line. It read 3:02:00 clock time. I knew I had made it to my goal by my chip time, which starts when you actually crossed the start line. 3:59:37 chip time, 2:54:17 on my Garmin (that's minus the train fiasco). I could barely stand, but felt amazing to have just run 30km. I did it.

I have to share my victory with Chris & Steph, never would have made it without them!

It was amazing to see the support though the streets of Hamilton, Burlington and back to the Hammer. People with signs, drums, music, clapping, cheering and generally passing their energy on to us the tired masses.

   Ok so here's the bad news. I thought it was just the usual soreness after the race, but as the day wore on I began to realize something strange was afoot. Or a knee as the case may be. I was developing a terrible pain behind my right knee. Thinking back to the previous days strange occurrence while I was out walking and it didn't take a mathematician to put two and two together. Something was really wrong with my knee. I have the Jordan 5km race in two weeks, so my goal was to finish uninjured in under 3 hours. I accomplished one, but not the other. After seeing my doctor today it looks like a baker cyst behind my right knee. This develops when the knee capsule ruptures and fluid leaks out the back forming a painful lump and immobilizing the knee. So here I sit, packed in ice for the last two days, blogging a tale of success and an obstacle to overcome. This week will be rest, perhaps light bike or swim training, but I'll see how I'm healing. I've been down this road so many times before, I just didn't expect it from running.


  1. Hey Ryan, I totally remember you skating Suds, Slot Machine etc back in the day. Good luck with the running, maybe I'll see you at a race this summer.

    We will do those spinerval intervals again but next time you won't eat anything beforehand. Eek. Thank you for not spewing my banana bread.
    ATB, I am so proud of you! You are a true athlete. Motivation, determination and hard work. All those miserable cold winter runs. That is a challenging race due to the time of year and the course. You are AWESOME! I wish that train hadn't thwarted my efforts to find you like it did.

  3. Totally awesome! I am so glad that all of your training resulted in you reaching your goal. Not happy that you are injured but this will pass. You are a strong athlete and following your training gives me the push to get out of the door when I don't feel like it. Your race report was very nervewracking and I laughed out loud when you described the last 2kms as being the worst as I have felt this many many times. Congratulations and rest up!