Saturday, July 12, 2008


I don't like this habit I seem to be forming.  Throughout my life I have always had the ability to sleep.  If nothing else, I have been able to sleep through most things.  Hurricanes, car crashes, sirens, TV.  You name it, I could sleep through it.

For my past couple of big races - Iceland and Boston to be specific - I have not slept well.  I don't know how I have contracted this late onset insomnia, but I have.  I don't feel nervous.  I don't feel wound up.  Maybe I am too concerned about sleeping through my alarm, and yet there is no precedent for that.  

Suffice it to say, I am awake now.  The Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run begins in just over three hours, which puts the big hand close to the three and the little hand close to the 11, at this exact moment.  I tried to sleep.  I did.  I read.  

Reading is my secret weapon.  Unless it is in the A.M. hours, I fall asleep when I read.  I partly blame my average-to-decent marks at university on this fact.  I could never read more than 20 pages in the evening with out ending up face down in a pool of drool.  So last night, I started to read at 11:00pm.  On any given night, this would put me to sleep in about 10 minutes.  An hour later, my book was done. Damn.  Sleep was not going to come without a fight.

I flirted with unconcisousness for about 3 hours, from 11:30 pm until 2:30 am, but gave up the fight after that, deciding to make peace with the early morning hours.  

About three weeks ago I decided against racing the Knee Knacker, instead deciding to run it.  For those that might not see the immediate difference between racing and running, it is small but significant.  It is more a mental shift than anything, but over the 30 miles of trail, it makes a big difference.  For a while after Boston, I was dreading the thought of another long race effort ruined by cramping.  I had spoken to Coach John and decided to put marathons on the back burner for awhile, and a couple of average trail race results lessened my desire to compete and complete the Knee Knacker.  I think it was on a run at Buntzen Lake with Simon where I remembered that I loved running the trails.  We went out for a good long run (me for 2 hours+; he went for longer, 4 hrs+) and I just loved the pace we were going, the conversations we were having, and the terrain we were covering.  The decision to run the Knee Knacker, to enjoy the trail, vistas, terrain, challenge and the people, lifted this heretofore unnoticed weight off my shoulders.  Without realizing it, the weight of expectations, my own mostly, was lifted and I started to enjoy training more.  I looked forward to running hour-long uphills.  I looked forward to 3 hours in the trails.  I wasn't worried about times, splits, or pace.  This simple mental shift released me from me.

The goal is now to enjoy the race today.  I am lookin
g forward to becoming part of the Knee Knacker cult, but the real focus is to recover well from the run today so that my training for the ENDURrun stays on track.  To that end, I have had very good workout the past two weeks with VFAC.  My workouts are just about back to where they were before Boston, which is fantastic.  I am feeling confident and strong again, and with about a month until the start of ENDURrun in Waterloo, that is perfect.  

Like Iceland, I am taking a camera on course.  I hope to take pictures every 15 minutes or so, but we'll see.  The pre-race meeting last night was good and it great to see so many enthusiastic people there, who have willingly signed up for this masochistic event.  (see the course profile below - just for reference, most trail races I race have about 600-800m TOTAL elevation gain over 25k; we cover that in the first 7.5k)

"It's not the uphill that gets you, it is the downhill."  I'll remind myself of that at 9k.  Off to get some food and get ready.  No more sleep for me tonight.

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