Monday, October 22, 2012

two runs two weeks ago

[This post was started a week and a bit ago but but never finished...]

Once again my exercise routine has been suffering. The main problem is that I keep failing to get up early enough to work out. I did get up at 5:30 for a few days after getting back from Germany, but that lasted less than a week. But I finally decided not to let that stop me from running.

Sunday [10/7] was my long(est) run (ever!). I wanted to go out for 11 miles, but I figured I'd need at least a water and bathroom stop in the middle. I thought about making a stop at home and just doing two loops, but I was worried that once I got inside, I wouldn't have the motivation to start running again. Instead, I made my stop at a coffee shop, from which I'd have to run at least a couple miles to get home.

The run to the shop was about 7 miles, and it was 7 glorious miles! I think I felt happier during the run than I had in weeks! Just enjoying the cool yet sunny weather, the rhythm and flow of the run, and my music. I recently read a debate in Runner's World about whether running with music is a good idea or not. The pro person cited a few research studies that showed that music is in fact helpful to running; the con person kept talking about how if you don't focus on your breathing and footfalls, you're not really running. You can probably guess which side of the debate I favor.

The only argument against music that does make sense is safety. The article makes a comparison with driving or biking, but it turns out that cyclists (and presumably runners) with headphones hear more ambient noise than car drivers. Of course, cyclists and runners are also much more vulnerable, and it's certainly true that you'd be more aware of the surroundings without music. But it's a judgment call that I feel can be reasonably made either way. My runs are mostly on flat and straight country roads where I can see oncoming cars way before I can hear them, so I keep the music on.

I was hungry and thirsty by the time I got to the coffee shop, so I enjoyed a parfait and a latte. The run home was not quite as pleasant; it's always hard to get started again after you take a break, as the tiredness comes out. To make things worse, my iPhone turned itself off during mile 7. I estimate that I slowed down to about 11:30 min/mile, which I figure is still within a fine range for a long run. Especially my first double-digit run! (I was debating about whether it still counts as a single run despite the stop, but I figured that even with the stop, my average pace was faster than walking speed.)

I wanted to get another run Wednesday morning [10/10], and my plan, as always, was to wake up early and do the run before the kids woke up, but once again I had trouble getting myself out of bed in time. But since my morning was clear of meetings, I decided to just stay later and go for a run after Lenore and the kids went off to school. I wanted to do a 5-mile "race pace" run, with the "race" being a half-marathon. Based on my last 5K (at the triathlon), I calculated that to be a bit under 10 min/mile. It was chilly out so I decided to do about a mile at a slower pace to warm up.

The bulk of the run was a square around country roads, a mile to a side. The first mile at race pace felt tough because I was running into a cold headwind. It was nice not to have a problem with overheating, but the wind was chilling and it took a fair amount of effort to keep my pace. As soon as I turned the corner, my heart rate instantly dropped about 5 bpm, I started feeling much warmer, and running got a lot easier. Pleasant, even—the pace was not exactly easy, but quite comfortable.

All that changed again once I started heading north and into the wind again (which must have been out of the NW). It's funny how a little difference can change your outlook from "this is nice" to "how much longer do I have to run?" Fortunately, in this case, the answer was "not much." My last little bit of the run in the subdivision didn't have much wind, but by that time my legs were starting to feel tired, so my heart rate for that last segment was the highest of the day.