Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week 4

So a couple of things happened since my last running post. For one, the half marathon that I was training for was canceled. I also got sick, a present from my girls and all their new little friends at school, so I took my third week of running off.

Even though I skipped a week, I picked up on week 4 of the training plan. I still covered most of my miles in the gym, but I chose to run outside for the weekend. I've really missed it. 

Dunedin Causeway.

My three-mile run was my best time in the last three weeks, and it was also just a beautiful run. I started out the run listening to Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah," followed by Robert Plant's song "Rainbow," a recent discovery that turned out to be good for pacing.

At the risk of sounding fanciful, I have to say that I leaned in, and when I did I felt cradled by the morning: the rain-stained pavement, the foamy shoreline, the breeze with just a touch of crispness. I was open to the moment and felt connected to the singers, the landscape, and my own intensity— something that has always been part of me and, try as I might, will never change. 

When the songs ended, Emily Dickinson's "Sweet is the Swamp with its Secrets" kept running through my mind. I love the poem for its simplicity, and for its alliteration and rhythm:

Sweet is the swamp with its secrets,
Until we meet a snake;
'Tis then we sigh for houses,
And our departure take
At that enthralling gallop
That only childhood knows.
A snake is summer's treason,
And guile is where it goes.

Wish I could've kept up the pace with this one.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the half marathon. I was thinking that I might just run my thirteen miles on what would be race day by myself. Who needs an audience? I also could just extend my training by a month and run a half marathon in December. Or I may just do both.

Either way, I hope I can have a few more runs like the one I had on Saturday.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Optional Suffering

New gear was my motivation.
So it's been four months since my last run, with the exception of an ill-fated eight-mile run that I barely survived. I attempted eight miles with my friend Lee (an accomplished long-distance runner) because I was a little cocky. I was sure, despite the fact that I hadn't done more than a three-mile run in months, that my stubborness would carry me through and that my body was accustomed to long distances and still had the stamina, latent though it might be. Needless to say, I was wrong. I shuffled along, had to walk some, and finished with a pace of 13:40 per mile.

I had dinner with Lee a couple of weeks ago and asked, out of curiosity, if there were any upcoming half marathons. I knew all the usual ones — December through May  but she informed me that there was actually one in St. Petersburg in November.  If I wanted to run it, I had just three months to train. I always train for four months, and I always follow a beginner's training plan, which always assumes that you have been running consistently for at least six months. I've usually not been running for at least six months. A three-month training plan was and is daunting.

First run--fartlek.

This week, though, I decided to give it a try. I haven't signed up for the half marathon yet (I'm going to wait until I have at least three weeks under my belt), but I ran five times, and, despite the early mornings and incredible soreness, I am still alive and did not skip a single run.

Second run--just getting through the mileage.

Each night, I made a promise to myself that I would get up at 5:00 a.m. to make it to the gym by 5:30 a.m. This happened exactly zero times. 6:30 isn't too shabby, though.

Third run--I did a bit of fartlek on this run, too.

I can't bear the sun and heat right now, so I've completed all of my runs at the gym. I've been listening to Fresh Air and WTF (Marc Maron) podcasts. I particularly like the Marc Maron podcast because the interviews are longer, funny, and very in-depth.

My legs have been killing me (calves tight, hips achy, thighs sore), so I was really looking forward to my three-mile run on Saturday. It's also nice that it was only three miles because I obsessively look at the treadmill to see how much distance I've covered.

Fourth run.

I dreaded the six-mile run on Sunday. I was worried that it would be a repeat of the eight-mile run I'd attempted with Lee a while back. I decided I would take it reaaallly slow and just try to cover the distance.

As it turned out, it wasn't as bad as I thought. I sped up when I could. I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to get a picture of the six-mile run (with just half a mile to go, I accidentally hit the "cool down" or "clear" button when I was adjusting my speed, and the timer started over). My guess is that I finished at 63 or 64 minutes.

Throughout this week, I've wondered why I'm doing this to myself. Why not just read or watch a movie or sleep in on the weekend? I'm in pain and I'm hungrier than ever. I guess my answer is that I'm really goal-oriented, so having a plan with set distances helps fulfill that need to achieve, and also because it gives my days some purpose — beyond raising the kids and a job — something that is just for me. I hope that I keep up with it, and I look forward to it getting easier!