Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dec 2013 - The stream is deep. But the swimmer is willing

Dec 1 - 26K Group race. Up at 5:20. Take Ponstan Forte to forestall any hip or psoas pains so that I can focus on running. Sikuku, GK, Jemmo, Yumbs, all don't show up. Lets not even get into the the-dog-ate-my-homework stories:

Oh well....Its just me and Mark. Which is perfectly fine. Of course we need to recruit some serious runners from Nairobi so that we can push each other and improve.  My diet plan didn't go very well on Sato so I had some stuff to clear from my bowels. My main objective was to improve on my PR on the route, which is 2:00:47. More desirable was to better the route record set by Mark of 1:57:xx.

We start at about 6:20am. Mark was setting the pace and doing an excellent job at it. I was much slower than I expected but it was not so bad since the first 5K was under 22K and we crossed 7K at about 30:32.
It rained the previous night. It was still drizzling slightly. It was wet and muddy all over.
The road was slippery and our times were slow but faster than last time. From the 3rd Km, tired of slipping and losing traction, I decided to challenge the vehicles for space. This is dangerous so you gotta do it while facing oncoming traffic. I was wearing luminous green so this high-visibility helped a lot and most of the drivers saw me and gave me spacewhile still far off. Those that didn't give way pushed me off the road and I jumped right back when they were gone. The traffic was kinda thin so it was doable.

Of course I had to deal with the air resistance. But I decided it was better than slipping.
My legs were fine, the speed was fine. Muthurwa was fine. Of course there were crowds of people and little space for running but that is what Muthurwa is. I knocked somebody at JIAM. I didn't look back. Most people I knock deserve it. They see me coming. They know I am moving faster than them. But they dont give way. I allow our shoulders to collide. Plain and simple. They want to test Newtons laws of motion? Who am I to stop them?

Those that don't see me come, I steer them out of the way with my hand. Many an old woman or absent-minded child has been steered to safety by these running hands. God and me are gonna have a conversation one day about what happened to that in case he decides to toss me to hell. Aaaanyways...

Its all smooth till the Uhuru highway crossing when I reach the road just when the lights have turned green for the cars and they come zooming with no care for this runner. I am forced to stop for some seconds to figure when to jump in and I somehow manage to cross the road with some risk. Damn.
I manage the upper hill ascent quite well (5:28 followed by a 4:44). At the stage approaching Kenyatta Hospital, two dudes alight from a mat while talking. I am running on the road, a matatu forces me into the pavement where they are walking and they are a few metres away. They can see me and I can see them, clear as daylight. We are on a collision course but they don't care, they keep walking toward me.
As I approach them, I look at them and spread my hands in a WTF-is-this-why-are-you-being-obtuse? gesture or ni-nini? in swahili. They ignore me and act like they don't see this coming projectile wearing high-visibility clothes and in human form. Their unreasonableness annoys me and I decide I won't give way either. You wanna know how it feels like to make contact with a runner? Huh? I will show you. I brace for impact. Muscles and bones at high speed meet flesh and bones at low speed. My left shoulder collides with the right shoulder of the guy on my side. I hit him pretty good and can feel the paralysis on his side as he staggers off. I hear his phone hitting the pavement as the impact loosens his nerves. I don't look back. My pace quickens. Adrenaline dump. Mark must have witnessed what unfolded as he was a few metres behind.  That adrenaline dump pushes me to the top of the hill and I miss the choice expletives that must have followed as he gathered the pieces of his phone off the pavement.

I follow the upper hill ascent with a 4:30, 3:59 and 4:11 for 13, 14 and 15 Kms. At this point I know I am in form and can break the CR. I slow down at 16K which I do in 4:35 to get my breath back then 17K in 4:28. Not good but not so bad. I Need to pace up. I try pushing harder and that is when I get a cramp on the right side of my stomach. Mark is right there about 80 metres behind. For someone with recent health challenges, he is doing extremely well. If he is 100%, he will be a beast.

Its not so bad but I slow down so that it can abate because I don't want to worsen it. Its a sharp pain. Like there is a pin stabbing my muscles. Painful as ef. The worst thing about it is that the pain pulsates with every step. Shorter steps, lesser pain. So I am forced to make short strides. I grimace and tough it out. It worsens but my resolve is stronger. No stopping. Mark is right there so he pushes me. I almost start walking at the 22nd Km but I decide not to. However painful, a cramp has never killed anyone, so I just grimace and pump my arms and legs. My teeth are out in pain in a snarl. I ignore the stares of pedestrians. At 22.5Km thereabout, it starts drizzling. I now don't see Mark.The back of my shoes and my calves are all covered in mud.
The rest of the race becomes a test of my ability to run through pain. But it slows me down considerably and I fall off pace and off target but I improve on my CPR (Course Personal record). My time is 1:58:37, average pace 4:34 min/km. First 13K in 58:37 and second 13K in 60minutes. Imagine that shit.

I decide I will give it another stab next week. I am curious about how it can be without the slipperiness and without a cramp. And with Mark being better.

Here are the splits.
Km Time
1    4:13.3
2    4:14.3
3    4:21.9
4    4:21.7
5    4:20.9
6    4:28.5
7    4:29.8
8    4:23.5
9    4:31.6____Muthurwa
10    4:28.9
11    5:28.2____Upper Hill
12    4:44.2
13    4:30.2 ______58:37
14    3:59.1
15    4:11.9
16    4:35.1
17    4:28.2
18    4:43.9
19    4:34.5
20    4:37.9
21    4:43.7______1:34:31
22    4:42.5
23    4:40.8
24    5:03.1
25    4:51.6
26    4:42.7 _____60:00 minutes.

Dec 2 - 20 pushups. Stretch hips, psoas, calves, quads, hammies plank 3:20.

Dec 3 - weight is good: 72.8Kgs. Clams, bridges. 40 leg raises. Side crunches. Stretch hips, psoas, calves, quads, hammies do a 4:42 muthafuckin plank! Bloody hell.
Quads, hip flexors, glutes and hips kinda ache and it appears I am not so fast as a result - still recovering from the 26K. So instead of 1000m X 12 or 2000m X 5, I decide to do 400m repeats so that I can hit desired speeds. So I do 400m X 15 (1:31.7, 1:30.8, 1:30.8, 1:39.3, 1:33.0, 1:32.1, 1:28.0, 1:35.9, 1:28.5, 1:33.2, 1:32.5, 1:31.9, 1:33.5, 1:33.4, 1:33.7) 

Dec 4 - 73Kgs. Clams, bridges. 60 leg raises. Side crunches. Stretch hips, psoas, calves, quads, hammies do a 2:30 plank.Walk home. Legs and mid-section painful.

Dec 5: Clams, bridges. 40 leg raises. Side crunches. Stretch hips, psoas, calves, quads, hammies do a 5:12 plank. Can you believe that shit?

I did a 5:12 plank today. Now if you don't find this unbelievable, I do.
Last month, while struggling with 3 mins planks and collapsing on the floor in exertion and trying to understand how come planks are so difficult to hold, I made a mental note to make it a goal after Christmas to work hard and be able to hold a plank for 5 minutes by March 2014. I will just add 5 seconds every day until I reach 5 minutes, I told myself.

But I gritted my teeth on Monday and decided to do a 4:30 or die. I did a 4:42. And collapsed on the floor, happy and pumped up.
Yesterday I was rubbish and could barely do a 2 mins plank. But its because I had done speed runs the previous day and I was in pain all over. Today I woke up having decided its 5 mins plank or I die.

Now, for this kind of feat (5 mins plank), you must be mentally prepared and mentally tough. So I prepared myself mentally by sipping water and imagining I am a cat of some sort. After preparing yourself and bracing your body for war...

You go down and stretch out and hit the stop-watch as you stretch out your lean body.

You ensure your elbows are comfortable. You ignore the mosquito biting your calf.
Don't look at the watch because if you do and you see 1:15 and you have 3:45 minutes to go and the 1:15 is already kicking your ass, then you are fucked there and then. And your body will be happy to collapse to the floor to try again another day. And you will comfort yourself with one excuse or another and move onto easier things, like say, pushups or situps.

So you don't look at the watch. Under no circumstances...

Just concentrate on breathing well and you can stare at how your groin is inching toward the floor and how it goes back up when you pull it up. And how hard it is to hold your body like that. But tell yourself 'I am doing it abs are strong...I have a strong comfortable back...I am ok...I am not tired...I can do this forever...'

When the veins in your neck and arms are popping, and your shoulders are burning and your back feels like an anvil has been placed on it, or someone is hanging on it and pulling it down to the floor and your breathing is now becoming labored, and your hip flexors are screaming 'ef you!'...

Then you can look at your watch.

I mean, glance at your watch. Just a glance. If its more than a glance, you will notice how long a second is and it will kill your morale.


Okay, 3:10 to go.

You hold again and avoid looking at the watch. Grit your damn teeth if you must.

Are you approaching failure again? Ok.
Glance at the watch.
We are past halfway. 20 seconds and 2 mins to go...

Hold again. Look down at your feet as you push your groin up.
About to collapse again?
Glance the watch.

Okay, ninety seconds to go. No, dont moan in exasperation.

I will do this.
Glance the watch again.
70 seconds I can handle. Your body is shaking.
By this time, your face is contorted into a mask of exertion.
The beads of sweat are now coalescing into rivulets of sweat.
Your popped eyes are glued on the watch.
Twenty seconds....
Your shoulders are masked in a bead of sweat and your chest is wet with sweat.
You are now visibly shaking. Every cell in your body is screaming.
Grrrr....Brrrr... I did it! Why not add another ten seconds?
Your eyes are shut in effort mixed with pain. Your breath is labored.
When you can no longer keep your eyes closed, they pop open, as if seeking air and you look at the watch.
Your body collapses to the floor and you are elated.
Well, folks, that's how you do a 5:12 plank.
Otherwise, forget it.

Dec 6 - 72Kgs. 30 side planks, 3:20 plank, 60 leg raises, 30 twisted crunches, clams, 30 single leg bridges, psoas, hip flexor, quads, calves, ankles, hammies, back and hip stretches, 20 pushups.

Dec 8 - 26K in 2 hours with Mark. Poor performance. Poor nutrition. My body wasnt 'feeling it'. Time to take a break. Lessons learnt. Merry XMas guys!
Cheers guys.