A Slow Long Run

What happened to spring?

As a general rule I am not a big fan of the wind.  It leaves a path of torn Dorito bags and leaves in its wake.  It also blows those little whispy hairs my head band can never seem to contain into my eyes.  It also stirs up dirt into swirling masses of stinging evilness.  The wind also prevents kayaking adventures on Lake Tahoe.  Ugh.  I am a pretty adaptable individual but I was really looking forward to getting out on the water.  I am somewhat consoled by the fact that it is technically the first weekend of spring which means there are many weekends of kayaking on the horizon.  Somewhat consoled.

Besides strewing trash and debris throughout the neighborhood, heavy winds interfere with my running.  Only because I am a wimp.  I will run in the rain.  I will run in the snow.  I will not run in heavy wind.  I mean the type of wind that knocks over full trash cans, not the kind that gently carries dandelion fluff hither and thither.  After picking up my trash can for the fifth time I decided I wasn’t going to run outside.  Or rather, I wasn’t going to be able to get all four miles in outside.  Because I am a wimp.

Instead, I made the following plan:  Run one mile to the gym, run two miles on the treadmill, run one mile home.  This would give me a total of four miles.  Four oddly run miles, but four miles none the less.  I wasn’t entirely confident this would work but I figured it would force me to tackle my hatred of the wind but still get my mileage in.

So off I went.  And surprisingly, the whole thing worked.  In fact, it worked well enough that I have decided to make running to and from the gym a regular part of my spring and summer.  Why not?  It’s only a mile.  It’s a good warm up and/or cool down from whatever it is I am doing over there.  And since I can’t bring myself to do more than three miles on the treadmill, it certainly opens up the possibility of getting up to five miles in on a weeknight without having to drive somewhere or run laps through the neighborhood (which after the whole dog attack thing last fall I am NOT into anymore).

Hmmm…reading this back I sound like a pretty temperamental runner.  I’m really not that fickle.  It was just a funky day.

Anyway, while I was at the gym I had this great idea to try a yoga tone video.  Think yoga with weights.  And of course, because it’s me – I really pushed it.  Hard.  Bridge position with a 10 lb weight on my hips?  No problem.  Wall sits holding five pound dumbbells?  SURE!  Oh, and tucking that five pound dumbbell behind my knee during tree?  Absolutely!

Note:  If you are getting ready for your first eight mile run after some forced couch rest due to significant illness, you might not want to try something new.  Or push for time on you four mile “easy” run.  But it was a good 800+ calorie burn and I have to say, I loved the yoga tone.  A lot.  It could be making a regular appearance in the weekly routine.

But when I woke up Sunday morning I could feel every inch of Saturday’s work out.   It was a good thing I planned to run in the afternoon.  It was brutal.  I stretched.  I foam rolled.  I even prayed a little.  Then I headed off with hoards of lemmings to catch the matinee of “The Hunger Games.”  (I liked it, by the way.)  My hope?  Sitting in a theater would magically stretch me out.  Wait, that’s not how it works?  To my credit, I didn’t consume anything in the theater that could adversely affect me on my run.  Points for me!

After the movie, I stretched some more.  I was still stiff but not stiff enough not to log some miles.  I was on the trail by 2:15 with Obi, the boy’s cattle dog.  My plan was pretty straightforward:  Run 8 miles in under two hours.  Yeah, I know.  I am setting land speed records.  Before the Black Death, I would have been aiming for keeping a consistent 11:30 to 12:00 pace.  It has been slow going coming back from the Black Death.  Frustratingly slow, actually.  Getting up to four miles without my heart rate spiking well above 180 as I struggled for breath almost took an act of god. Getting over four miles at any speed has really been a challenge.  It almost feels like starting over.

This is Obi. He would like me to run faster, please.

I’d like to say that everything went really well and I blew my goal out of the water.  I’d like to say I had a nice pretty negative split (my favorite thing!) or that I jammed in the last mile like I normally do.  The reality is, this run was hard.  Really hard.  But at the same time it felt really good. Here is what it looked like on paper (er, computer screen):

And here is what it felt like:

Miles 1 through 4:  I set out at a slow and easy pace.  I was determined to conserve energy for the second half.  It took me about a mile and a half to warm up and then I found a nice comfy stride.  The miles ticked off.  Slowly.  I wasn’t happy with the time at all, but I also knew it was all my fault for overdoing it the day before.

Miles 5 through 7:  At the turn around, I stopped for a couple minutes to down some sport beans, take a quick photo and stretch out.  I never did get my momentum back.  I found myself having to walk more frequently.  My left hip actually started to bother me.  But I pushed through it.  Really pushed through it.

Mile 8:  I think I actually gave up somewhere on Mile 8.  The ball of my left foot was achy, probably the result of compensating for the hip pain.  There was also a nice big hill, which I decided I should just walk up.  It was rough.  I was ready to just be done.  But I picked up a slow run at the top of the hill and pushed through again.

Before I knew it, I was done.  In under two hours.  Barely.  The time?  1:54:42, which is a stunning pace of 14:15.  Before the Black Death I would have been horrified by that pace.  Today?  I am thrilled.  It might have been slow.  I might have had to walk from time to time (which I hate, by the way) but I did it.  My heart rate was great.  My breathing was great.  And despite being stiff and slow, I did it.  I own it.  And frankly, the next long run will be that much easier because I did it.