On Saturday morning I was up at 6:30, getting myself hydrated and organised for my first training run with The North Face Whistler Half Marathon Run Clinic. It looked like rain when I first woke up, and I pulled out my North Face Flight Series running jacket hoping that I wouldn’t actually have to use it by the time I left the house.
All dressed up, just about to walk out the door and I notice that it really wasn’t raining at all. Quickly switched up my jacket, which I love but it would have insulated me too much for the conditions, to a warm pullover and I was out the door.
The clinic met in the front of the Whistler North Face store for 8am. Actually, the people who were on time were there for the 7:50am warm up but I ended up being a few minutes late. We split into our three categories (maybe four because the 10km runners are participating as well); Advanced, Intermediate and Beginner. I took my spot with the Advanced group and reminded myself that while I was likely going to be at the back of the pack I wouldn’t let myself wuss out and back down to the Intermediate group. *there is nothing wrong with Intermediate, and we were all lapping everyone who was still in bed. I ran with the Intermediate group last year and I can guarantee there will be days when I am with that group this year, I merely wanted to see what I could handle with the Advanced group for my first training run.
Coach John has returned this year and he really is a great example of challenging yourself and being a smart athlete. Throughout our entire 12km run he gave instruction on improving form, how to run more efficiently, how to let our legs out on the downhills – we even did some drills on Blueberry Hill!
We covered Tapley’s Farm/Easy Street loop and then made our way toward Blueberry. I was at the back of our 4-person group, and when we hit the base of the hill we stopped so that Coach John could give us our drill. We would run in a single line, he would set the pace, and the person at the end of the line would pick up their speed just a bit and make their way to the front of the line and then fall back into the original pace allowing the new person at the back of the pack to repeat the same exercise. We would carry on like this all the way to the top of Blueberry Hill.
I don’t think that that hill has ever been so easy for me to run up! We didn’t stop, we had a great rhythm and it was a nice team effort to work our way to the top. It honestly felt really good to run in a group again. One Blueberry Hill run down, eleven more to go.
We carried on down through Alta Vista and past Lakeside Park. From there we hit our next climb up into Nordic where Coach John gave us our next marching orders. We were going to learn how to run downhill fast by mentally and physically stopping ourselves from putting on the brakes; we started out easing into the downhill, and by the bottom of the hill we “let our legs out” which resulted in what I imagined to look like Roadrunner-style running as we truly looked out of control!
On the flats I was instructed to kick my heels up higher than I normally do. I felt it in my hamstring the moment I started to kick up and Coach John told me that immediately I looked like I was running more efficiently. So, this is my homework over the next 12 weeks: heels to the butt.
The rest of our run took us down the backside of Whistler Valley Golf Course, and up Lorimer Road back to the store where group stretch and a talk on common running injuries was already underway.
Absolutely my first long run of training was challenging. A few of our mile splits were in the 8 minute range and I usually only run those on race day. That being said, I wasn’t super uncomfortable and I felt strong the whole time; our average pace was 9:20/mile, and that’s more along the lines of my long run pace in training.
After the group talk ended, I came home and pulled out my foam roller to roll out my IT band and my quads. Then I hopped into the shower and afterward pulled on some compression socks for optimal muscle recovery. While listening to the talk on running injuries I drank a recovery drink that I’d left in my car for after our run and after my shower I had a delicious smoothie .
Long run #1 in the books, see you again next week!