I spent the last week in Toronto sleeping on an air-mattress, sitting on bamboo floors and eating out of tupperware with one spoon. Glamorous, I know! Moving across the country has its moments… but there is a major upside to this “living like a 17-year-old” adventure – I got a chance to run on the track at York University with Lioudmila “Lucy” Kortchaguina and her husband (and coach) Ilia Kounavine. It was an aspiring runner’s dream come true (sorry Tania, it was super cool getting to run with you too but we were running through a graveyard, jumping over puddles, between client meetings on Bay Street).
After about 10 minutes of easy running to warm-up, we planned out the session: 6 x 1000m @ 4:00 to 4:05 (which translates to about :48 / 200m lap). We stretched a little, chatted a little and then after a couple of increasingly faster laps, we began.
Ilia and Lucy stood on the inside of the track as I ran my heart out around them. Each time I passed Ilia would call out my time. “48 and 5″, “47, good”, “52, speed up” and so on. Between each 1000m set we would walk a lap together and I would get notes on my arm swing (too tight and close to my body), my stride length (short, but I’m not to worry about that yet) and what I would be doing in the months to come leading up to my attempt at a 3:20-ish (and Boston qualifying) marathon in the autumn.
My times were consistent and pleasing to all of us: 1000m @ 3:59:11, 3.58.92, 3.58.89, 3.56.42, 4.00.43, 3.52.87. Ok, I am not ecstatic with my 5th set… but whatever! I felt like a pro. I was living the dream!
After my 6th and final set we took another walk and Ilia told me that Lucy wanted to see how fast I could do 200m. Now? Well… OK! Why the heck not?! We neared the start line and I started to speed up… I ran with all the gusto I could muster = 200m in 36 seconds. I won’t be challenging Usain Bolt to any races (he runs 200m in 19.93 seconds) but I was pretty darn proud.
We cooled down, did some more stretching, chatted a little and called it a night.
I was still vibrating and itching to brag to someone about the experience so I texted Tania. “I think I did well. The Russians are upping my workout next week.” Tania responded with “Sure changes things when you have an audience during training!” Funny. I hadn’t actually thought of that. I was so engrossed in the moment and in trying to learn everything I could that I missed the fact that they were watching me! Ha! I hope I put on a good show.