It’s currently -19°C outside. With the windchill that feels more like -30°C. Yes, you read that right. I can scarcely believe it as I sit here and type it. Most sane runners are sticking indoors today but I’m heading out because either I’m some sort of total sadomasochist or the thought of running on the spot on a treadmill is scarier than braving the ridiculous temperatures outside. Either scenario is equally accurate…believe me. Besides, winter runners are beasts so I’m trying to convince myself that this is all another chapter in mental toughness conditioning and praying to the good Lord that I don’t end up as a Popsicle somewhere along Point Abino and Nigh Rds.
Here’s hoping anyway.
Today’s long 15k run is structured a little differently. It’s intended to be a progression of 4 20 minute intervals all at a gradually increased pace leading to the final 20 minutes near or at my 5k or 10k pace. So instead of a specific album which is usually my vehicle for audible entertainment when I do these runs, I’m going with a per-established playlist to represent the intended pace for each of those 20 minute time blocks.
The first 20 minutes is to be slow and easy (5:50-6:00min/km) to get “warmed up” (well, as warm as one can get when running in polar vortex temperatures anyway) as I head down to the lake and left along Erie Rd. heading out of Crystal Beach. These songs while slow, are very motivational to me to help convince me that I’m doing the right thing here even though my toes are beginning to frost over and my nostrils are freezing to the inside f my nose.
- Beggar In the Morning – The Barr Brothers
- Run – The Strumbellas
- Hard Sun – Indio
- Chartjunk – Stephen Malkmus &The Jicks
The next 20 minute block beginning just as I am rounding the corner on Erie Rd. just past downtown Crystal Beach and heading out towards the Buffalo Canoe Club represents my first pace increase (5:30-5:40min/km). These specific tracks have all appeared in my past event playlists to help get myself psyched up and ready to go. These are my go-to “amp up” tunes if you will which is good when your lungs are near freezer burnt and you’re developing wind burn on your stomach from running into the wind.
- Keep Your Head Up – Ben Howard
- You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart – Sinead O’Conner
- Sometimes – James
- 25 Miles – Edwin Starr
- Feeling Good – The Sheepdogs
There’s something about these particular songs that really make me feel like I can take on the world, especially the thunderous drum chorus to ‘You Made the Thief of Your Heart‘ and the whole “On a flat roof, there’s a boy leaning against the wall of rain, Aerial held high, calling, “Come on thunder, come on thunder” lyrics from ‘Sometimes‘. It very empowering. And, hey, when I’m battling frostbite and have passed the point of no return, I could use all the empowerment I can get. And don’t you dare laugh at my inclusion of Edwin Starr here either, that song was written and intended for endurance runners.
Okay, the “Suck Factor” is definitely beginning to shape with the third 20 minute interval if it wasn’t before (5:20-5:30min/km). Tthe legs are beginning to cry out after an arduous week or fartleks and I’m sure there’s booger icicles hanging from my nose.
- An Ocean In Between the Waves – The War on Drugs
- The Fear – Ben Howard
- Dare (DFQ Remix) – Gorillaz
Somewhere along Point Abino Rd. I slipped into race mode in my head. Hey, something has to pass the kilometers. In my mind I was in a three battle with two local heroes of mine Jim Summers and Mikael Poulsen who raced Kona this past October. We were locked in our own three-way Iron War with the pace beginning to get hectic and the inspiring chorus of “you will become what you deserve” (Ben Howard) turning me onto Nigh Rd. and serving to get me amped up to lead the charge as I began to pull away from my counterparts.
Time to get really get our suck on (5:00-5:10min/km). This specific live version of the popular Spencer Davis tune is the shit and if this doesn’t keep your legs turning over (and it did) I don’t know what will. Truthfully, ‘ol Thunder n’ Lightning felt pretty good and my heart rate felt somewhat relaxed as well. The Stooges are just plain, good old fashioned ass-kicking personified and ‘Grasshopper‘ is about as strong a way to finish a run as it’s going to get coming back through downtown Ridgeway with it’s 10 minute long balls-to-the-wall rock epicness.
By this time (in my head of course), I had pulled away from my heroes, completely breaking their spirit and nipping them at the finish line. In truth, they’d have finished long ago and probably been sipping post-race pina colada’s at the hotel bar by now but, hey, this afternoon, I owned them. Even if just in my head.