Friday, May 20, 2011

On Any Given Monday

I’m not going to lie. I love going to Kelowna because it affords me the opportunity to run my favorite trail, the Greenway. The Greenway is the name given to it by the locals. The name on the sign says Mission Creek Greenway. I’m sure the name Greenway is used in several communities as a descriptive term of the scenery surrounding the trail itself. For the most part the Greenway is kind of boring. Of the 16 km in length about 10 km of it fairly flat, the trail is wide enough for a vehicle to drive and has a long sweeping bend to it where you can see pedestrian traffic for a hundred feet or so. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t like boring. Boring is beautiful because it follows Mission Creek and is far enough removed from urbanization that you can’t hear the cars and for the most part can’t see the city.

It’s the east end of the Greenway that I live for. I’ve been coming to Kelowna for 5 years now and only recently have I run the east end of the Greenway. For 5 years, typically the third Monday of any given month you would find me on the Greenway. From about the kilometer 10 marker to the end at kilometer 16 the trail twists and turns leaving the creek’s edge to get up to the top of the bank only to have you taken back down and return to the top once more. It’s hard to believe that this creek could have cut such a profile 300 or so feet deep into the earth. The views at this end are breathtaking. It’s either that or the climb up to the top of the bank leaves you out of breath.

This end is not for the faint of heart or for cyclists with steps cut into the multitude of switchbacks going up and down the bank. Maybe that’s why I love this end so much because it’s not for everyone but it is for me.

On this particular Monday I had a couple of rough days leading up to this trip. My son Ethan was admitted to the hospital complaining of vomiting and a severe headache. Shuttling back and forth all weekend and seeing very little of my wife, sleeping on the couch provided in his room we made the best of it. The neurologist was convinced that it was a severe migraine but we had to rule out things like meningitis so he got a spinal tap and a CT scan. Blood tests gave confounding results which ended up keeping us there the whole weekend. After a clearly negative blood culture he was given the clearance to go home and I was clear to resume my work life.

I don’t know about you but I appreciate my weekend for the small amount of respite it gives me from the stress of my job. To go from one stressful situation to another and then back again left me tightly wound and ready to pop.

I approached this run like an uncorking of sorts. This was my make or break. I knew going in that my fitness had kind of fallen off a bit. But call it naïveté or just plain stupidity the 10% rule went right out the window. My longest run in the recent weeks had been a 10 miler and I could hit 14 on a really good day.

I started slow and went even slower going up the switchbacks but one I made the turn from the far end of the Greenway (16KM marker) I still felt good. For a moment I thought I could do 20. Wow 20 miles, the benchmark long run for most marathoners. The thought ruminated in my head for the next few miles.

My pace thus far was a pedestrian 12 minute miles. After starting the Greenway at the 6 km mark and heading east the steep grades quickly sapped speed from my overall pace. Now back in the flatter portion of the Greenway my pace became more consistent and the overall pace picked up.

As I ran past the point where I entered the Greenway I still felt okay. My nutrition was getting low as I had consumed 2 Clif bars and a Chocolate #9 gel in the 2 ½ hours I had been out there. My stomach was starting to grumble. It’s 6 km (4miles) to the other end of the Greenway. The sun was setting on the horizon and on my legs my fitness was starting to show.

As my Garmin hit the 3 hour mark, it kind of reminded me that I haven’t run 3 hrs in a long long time. I really wanted to hit the 20 mile mark but I opted to turn for home with 3km to the end of the trail. My legs weren’t thrashed but they were starting to stiffen up.

The Garmin chimed in at 18.34 miles in 3:16 with an elevation gain of over 1,600 feet. I was pretty happy with that.

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