Summer Times

 

I remember my dad teaching me how to drive the tractor so that he and my siblings could stack the bales of straw on the wagon. It was a welcome change from the scratches you’d get on your forearms and legs from lifting, carrying and placing the heavy bales in the hot sun. At first it was a bit terrifying, learning how to let off the clutch while gently pressing the gas pedal, knowing you’re also responsible for carefully pulling both the baler and a wagon of people. Like our push lawn mower, he taught me exactly where to steer the tires in order to efficiently complete the job. It was best to go at a steady pace in a lower gear. In order to know where to turn I would look back and he would indicate with a show of fingers, the row we were next to complete. After a few rounds I got the hang of it and quite enjoyed it with the other jobs I helped complete on the farm, like bedding the cattle and collecting chicken eggs (of course there were some jobs, like pulling weeds in the fields, that I did not enjoy). I have fond memories of my summers as a child – swimming at my Uncle Jack’s, sleeping over at my Aunt Joyce’s, eating corn on the cob and other fresh vegetables from our garden, and attending Maple Grove as a camper. Fast-forward 25+ years later and I’m still cherishing those summer days like they were yesterday. And I’m still a camper at Maple Grove where our children are now making their own summer memories. In recent years I’ve quite enjoyed spending time at our cabin, particularly when my husband was travelling a lot for work. I can continue training while the kids play with their cousins, only returning to sleep, eat, get money for the candy store, or grab their bikes or swimsuits. The kids get their fill of freezies, Kraft Dinner, and sugar cereals while it feels like I am playing house with very little responsibility. My sister is here with her kids, our small cabin is much easier to keep clean than our bigger house, and there are moments when I don’t even know or care about what day or time it is.  It is wonderful. Screen time is very minimal and life is incredibly relaxed. We’ve worked hard all year to enjoy a simple summer, and September seems years away.

I get an abundance of rest and relaxation while at our cabin yet have managed to get injured a few times, likely due to pushing a bit too hard, too soon with excitement in the beginning stages of another Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (STWM) build, and logging too many kilometers on the same rocky road. A few weeks ago I asked Coach Dave for an easier week, knowing my first week at the cabin presents its own changes that require time to adjust. My short and fun post-Boston Marathon spring season had me fitter sooner than any other post-marathon season, clocking close to under 35 minutes for a fun 10 km race. And I had a decent 140 km week prior to coming with two 30 km runs, some mile repeats on the track, and 30+10 minutes at 3:23-3:31 min/km pace. I was a bit surprised when Coach Dave gave me a maximum mileage of only 80 km and even asked if I could have a few more, a rare occurrence on my part. So when he simply and wisely replied with, “I wouldn’t, so no. Just keeping in mind this is an unloading week before we get into our STWM groove”, I fully settled into enjoying my slower pace in a lower gear. There would be plenty of time, 15 weeks to be exact, to get into the thick of high kilometers and intense workouts. I could continue to use the pool for aqua jogging and stay up a bit later for campfires while easing into my summer routine. In fact, it would likely add to the list of things I’ve done wiser and more deliberately in the last nearly 2 years since joining Speed River. With my surprise third place finish at the Boston Marathon, and busyness of the kids’ spring activities, including accepting the job as Head Coach for my daughter’s rep hockey team, I had been looking forward to our little white cabin for some time. And here I was. July was to be race-free with sufficient time to train for the August 19 Edmonton Half Marathon, a race I’ve twice scheduled to run but did not start. When in September, I didn’t need to look back and wish I had better enjoyed and executed my off week. The investment of this downtime would benefit me when it mattered most – on October 21 on the streets of Toronto, my fifth STWM, and 16th marathon in 16 years. In discussing our plan for the 2018 STWM, I told Coach Dave that after successfully handling higher mileage (190 km) at altitude in Kenya and executing his thorough marathon-paced workouts for Boston, I felt confident that we could aim to tackle both in this build. I’m sure that when I email him my update for the week I will be able to say I’m ready.

 

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