I toured the Gats during my training today, and would now like to suggest a message for a future neon sign to be posted at its entrance: "Gatineau Park, where the hills have hills!"
Roughly a third of today's 35km adventure happened within the Park, and among the multitude of cyclists buzzing around the water fountain I spied only one other person foolhardy enough to tackle the hills on foot. I'd like to point out that while cycling is hard work, a pedal rotation on a bike usually goes farther than a running stride, and so a ride is usually easy and comfortable at distances difficult and uncomfortable for a run. An experienced cyclist planning a long ride would choose a longer route than a runner, even at the height of marathon training.
The path to the Gats was a decision lightly made. I was looking for some shady path to follow, and at the last second I veered left at a fork because I knew it led to the park and offered some shady sections. I have biked here many times for fun and as a means to get to work (my *old* job) and knew there would be long sections of shade but I hadn't counted on the intensity of the morning heat. I ran as far as Gamelin and refilled my bottle at the fountain with water so deliciously cool I would have been pleased to bathe and cavort in it faerie-style. Instead I decided to run as far as Asticou; from there, I began the 5k route I used to do occasionally on my lunch break -- until I saw a posted sign for Pink Lake only 7k from there. Yippee! It would give the perfect distance.
Soon after deciding to go to Pink Lake and exceed the distance at which I suspect my water bottle could support me (14k on one bottle of water was asking way too much in this heat) I forgot all about water and instead thought about passing the runner just ahead. I guessed we were going at about the same speed so I concluded I really couldn't pass her. Decision made, I happily trailed behind, content to have her ahead as a running gauge (and bear attack support). But soon enough she veered off and I continued for a few more kms until the path climbed steeply with large rocks alongside -- ah, I had hit trail running territory. I turned around before twisting an ankle (would I be pissed!) and headed back the same way with water sploshing loudly within the rapidly emptying bottle. I was 3k off, but it was fine.
It took a crazy amount of willpower to keep on trucking even though I knew a cold water fountain was waiting for me. It was just so hot and hilly. To gauge my progress I mentally performed a body scan -- how do the quads feel? am I tired yet? too hot and burning up? -- and discovered that while my quads and calves were sore, my energy was still high. And this combo of feeling sore yet energetic and positive continued until I finally reached home after running back the same way and adding on a bit at the end.
And that stop at the fountain when I finally reached it? Heavenly.
Just one more long run until my taper begins, and while I`m currently lying on the couch with straight legs and barking dogs (haha, that`s sore feet to some of you), I believe I`m ready for this marathon. It`s too bad that speed work was pushed to the backseat so that I could concentrate on achieving my weekly distance goals, but when I look at what I`ve accomplished, I feel confident that I`ve prepared enough to cross the finish line without walking too much or giving up entirely. Of course, one never knows what will happen over the next few weeks, but the outlook from the current perspective looks sunny and clear.
Now I have a heel blister from my new running shoes, which I bought to relieve my toes of their toe tip and sub-nail blistering tendencies! Go figure. At least heel blisters are less unsightly than blackened nails. Bandaids are the best invention (well, second after ibuprofen).
After a breakfast of eggs and toast, I baked a pan of crumble that had been waiting in the fridge since yesterday. So sweet and juicy!
|:: Nectarine and raspberry goodnesses ::|