October 29, 2013

October 29

Total time: 15 minutes
Total distance: 1.24 miles

Tonight's weather was perfect. If I could clone it for every day, I would. The temperature was in the upper fifties, it was overcast, there was the slightest of breezes but it wasn't windy... basically, this is the weather that I would love to run in every day.

While the problem of cold was temporarily solved, another issue is fast approaching: the end of Daylight Savings Time. Long gone are the days when I can hit the trail at 8pm and have it be light out long enough for me to run. It gets dark now around 6:30. And after this weekend, it will be dark at 5:30, because we have to turn our stupid clocks back an hour. It's always been a mere annoyance, having it be dark when I leave work, but I've never been so acutely aware of the rapidly disappearing daylight as I have been lately. I took it for granted until this summer, when I started paying close attention so that I could schedule my runs. And I've watched helplessly as that time slips away a little more each week. I'm at the end of the road, now. This will be my last week of being able to run in the evening with any daylight left at all, unless I reconfigure my work schedule and come in early so I can leave earlier. Given my sleep problems, I highly doubt that's going to happen.

On the bright side, even if I have to resort to a treadmill, I've still got a few more weeks left of being able to run outside on the weekend until it gets absolutely too cold. Or icy. I'm more concerned about ice than the cold, really. I'm okay with bundling up. I'm not okay with slipping and falling on my face.

But in the meantime, tonight was a lovely run and I wish I could have gone longer, because I was feeling pretty good... but I want to save my stamina for this weekend's 5K. I'll probably do one more mile run (probably on Friday - I have no real plans for Halloween but I'd like to leave the night open just in case!) and then Sunday is showtime.

October 26, 2013

October 26

Total time: 26 mins
Total distance: 2.11 miles

I'm noticing a huge change from just a few months ago and I can't help but wonder if the weather isn't partially responsible. Sure, it's cold... but when it was hot and muggy in August, it was all I could do to get through a mile. Lately, when given enough time and enough daylight, I seem to be doing pretty well with distance.

It used to be that the first mile was easy and the second (or beyond) was the hard part. I've found the opposite to be true lately. If I can get through the first mile, the second (or third) becomes the easier part. Not that it's "easy" - but it's usually by that point that I've found a steady pace and I just keep going until I hit a designated stopping place.

I'm hoping this theory holds true into the upcoming weekend - it's almost 5K time again! Eek!

October 22, 2013

October 22

Total time: 14 min
Total distance: 1.2 miles

There's no denying that it's getting colder. Which means I'm going to have to come up with a plan for the miserable and cold winter months. Probably a treadmill, which means I'll probably have to join a gym or fitness club or something. Yech. I'd rather run outside. Not only does a treadmill feel monotonous but if it's in a gym with other people, that kind of ruins the solitude of it. There are other runners (and cyclists and pedestrians) on my trail at any given time too, but it's different. We pass each other with a nod or a smile (or sometimes a wave). It's freedom. A gym is confinement.

At any rate, the temperature on my phone said it was the same as Sunday, but it felt a lot colder to me. Maybe because it was a shorter run and I didn't have as much time to get warmed up. I don't know. But I could feel the chill this time.

Interestingly enough, this is the fastest pace I've held in a while.

October 20, 2013

October 20

Total time: 53 minutes
Total distance: 4.29 miles

Today was one of those runs that kind of re-affirms for me why I'm even doing any of this. It also re-affirms my theory that the first mile sucks and if I can get past the 1.5/2 mile mark, then I'm generally good to go for a while longer.

I used to have an easy time getting started - the first five to ten minutes were the best and easiest, and the eleven to twenty minute set was where I struggled. Somehow, that's shifted. The first two minutes are great (and usually faster than they should be) and then I struggle to find my pace. I don't know if it's because of the weird downhill/uphill soft slope of the first part of my route that it just takes me until I'm on level ground to settle down, or what. But I have found that I've had to mentally push myself through that first mile. (Which is really annoying when I only run about a mile - that means the whole thing sucks!).

Then there's the pivot point where I either (a) stop or (b) decide to go for the 2nd mile. That little stretch there kind of sucks too, but once I'm in the no-man's land of the road that loops around the baseball field at the edge of the park, well - I'm in it to finish it, because there's no good spot to stop and turn back.

I'm not exactly sure where the edge of my two-mile route is, so oftentimes I will run a little extra just to be sure that I've cemented that milestone. And sometimes, during that "little extra" - I decide to keep going. Recently, I've found that Mile 3 is the best mile. I've found my pace, and it's slow, but I keep chugging along and I'm usually feeling pretty good about things at that point. It's magical and I wish I could get to that point every day, but I'm not there yet. (Maybe next year??).

At any rate, once I finished my "5K" route- I decided to keep going. So I circled the baseball field again. I honestly thought about trying for a fifth mile when I was done - it was tempting. But I could feel the fatigue setting in and I opted against it. The fact that I was able to do four miles again, though. That was huge! I felt like I picked up where I had left off at my peak from this summer. (Additionally, if I had known how close I was to my PR (currently standing at 55 minutes), I definitely would have kept going. Unfortunately I didn't have a watch with me so I had no idea how long I'd been going. Bummer.)

There was a combination of things contributing to the success of today's run, I think. A lot of newness. It was one of my first sub-40 degree runs since May (yes, May, with our freak snow and all that) and I got to take some of my new cold-weather gear for a spin. I also had a new pair of headphones. I knew that my clunky over-ear phones weren't going to fly with any winter hats or earbands, so I finally decided to try the Yurbuds that were designed specifically for lady ears. I hate earbuds. They fall out and they're uncomfortable. These were recommended by one of my runner friends and they're designed to be smaller so they don't fall out. I was skeptical but I needed something, so I decided to try them out. Instead of just sticking them in your ear and hoping for the best, you sort of twist them to lock them in place. They stayed put the entire time, though I'm not sure if it's because they were actually locked in place, or if it was because my snug earband was holding them in place. Either way, they stayed put, they had great sound, and they really didn't bother me at all until I was walking home and kind of adjusted one - so, after about an hour, they were sort of starting to hurt my ear a bit, but that's not too shabby. I think I'll keep 'em.

New gear aside, the fact that it was cold actually helped a lot. Because it felt really nice once I had gotten fully warmed up and sweaty. I was really comfortable for my entire run. It wasn't until I stopped and stretched and started home that I realized how cold it "suddenly" was again. This was particularly promising because that means that I can continue to run outside this winter, as long as it's (a) above freezing (gotta draw the line somewhere) and (b) not icy. Ice + running = seems like a bad idea.

But, cheers to a great run, I'm hoping maybe I can squeeze in a couple one-milers this week then another 3 miles on Saturday or Sunday, because I've got a 5K coming up that first week of November and I really really want to finish it strong. It's my first chip-timed race so it feels all sorts of official. :)

October 17, 2013

October 17

Total time: 16 minutes
Total distance: 1.34 miles

I've made it pretty clear that I'm not terribly keen on running in the dark, but I had some company on my run today so that helped alleviate whatever strange paranoia stems from lack of light. Just a quick run around the perimeter of my park before heading to my neighbor's house for an at-home catalog party (I warned her I would either be sweaty or late - turns out, it was a combination of both).

Nothing remarkable about this run but it felt good all the same. I'm starting to adopt a pattern of running a mile (ish) a couple times a week and then getting in one big, long run - usually on the weekend, since that's when I have the most daylight to work with. It's starting to get dark around 6:30-7ish now, which is absolutely awful, because that's when I would leave for my run in the summer. Oh, well. I guess I'd better get used to it. I'm probably going to have to start running inside on a treadmill during the week once winter comes because I won't have any daylight at all once I leave work.

And yes, I am being photobombed in my photo.

October 14, 2013

October 14

Total time: 15:57 mins
Total distance: 1.31 miles

I've gotten used to the first run of the week being rather crappy. The exception is if I do my weekend run on a Sunday, which is arguably the beginning of the week, but in some cases it also functions as the end of the week if I don't get to go on Saturday. But for a Monday or Tuesday run, I need to learn not to expect much.

This run, while as far as I expected, needed to be rather short anyway, as I was squeezing it in quick before I had to head to a sleep study appointment. Long story short: my sleeping patterns suck and I want to fix them so I can function like a normal human being again. Running doesn't seem to really throw off my sleep one way or the other... sometimes it makes me tired and sleep better, sometimes it doesn't. But I had to get one in because otherwise I'd have gone too many days without... I generally don't like to go more than two or three otherwise I tend to feel like I regress on my progress.

October 11, 2013

October 11

Total time: 17 minutes
Total distance: 1.3 miles

It's always hard to follow a "good" run. Good by my terms generally means 2+ miles because I don't really feel like I've accomplished anything unless I go at least that far. Which amazes me every time I think about it, given how hard it used to be to simply run a mile. Now, I refuse to run less than that.

It's especially hard after a 5K-equivalent run. Because after I accomplish one of those, I feel like I can take on the world! If I can do it once, I can do it again! Except, I can't. That usually wipes me out for the week. Which is why this run was disappointing, because I was trying to achieve another good run (not another 3 miles, necessarily, but... more than one at least!) and I had to stop sooner than I would have liked. Not to mention the fact that I was struggling to keep a sub-13 minute mile pace. (And by "struggling to keep" I mean "I ran really really slow").

But, that's how the cookie crumbles, I guess. Still, a run is a run, and I did manage to get this one on the books.

October 8, 2013

October 8

Total time: 42:55 minutes
Total distance: 3.26 miles

Today was a perfectly lovely fall day and I had nothing on my calendar for the evening, which is getting to be a rare occurrence these days. As such, my brain made the executive decision to go for a run after work. I was pretty indifferent to the idea. It’s become a pretty solid habit, even if I am marginally lacking so me of my enthusiasm from earlier this summer.

When I started running, I wasn’t sure how it would go. The initial stretch felt good but it wasn’t long before my legs started to feel heavy. Last week, I’d mentally forced myself into running two miles – I debated whether I wanted to do it again tonight. I decided to just run my mile and see where I was after that. I’d done a lot of walking over the weekend so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I only did a mile today. 

There would be other opportunities to run the two miles this week – the forecast is calling for sunny 70s all week.

So I ran my mile route and it felt okay, but not great. I decided to force myself to do the two mile route – I mean, hey, if I do it today, that means I can run shorter distances the rest of the week. Might as well knock it out while I was here. It was a lovely evening for running or just simply being outside, so I didn’t protest too hard.

I felt myself slow down significantly as I entered Mile 2 and slogged my way through it – “slog” being the operative word. It was slow and sluggish – not terrible, but I had to pep-talk my way through it.

Then, something odd happened. As I was finishing that mile, I suddenly found my groove. I’m going to try for three! It was a decision I made without really realizing it until I was already into it. If I could pull it off, it would definitely prove to myself that I could do it, and it would make me a lot less anxious about running my 5Ks next month. I had already run more than I’d planned on, so however long I went was a bonus.

Mile 3 felt fantastic. Mile 1 was okay, Mile 2 sucked, but Mile 3… Mile 3 was a feeling I’d been missing for months. I jogged along happily and at one point I realized I’d actually picked up my pace. (My average pace ended up being Not Amazing, but I don’t think that disproves what I felt. It just meant that  Mile 1 and especially 2 were reallllllly slow). It almost felt like I was going too fast, considering that I was on my third mile, but it felt great, and I had no desire to slow down. It reminded me of one of my earlier runs from that summer, where I felt like I was Actually Running instead of just trudging along.

Honestly, if it hadn’t started to get dark at that point, I may have even kept going and tried for Mile 4. I had a burst of energy while I was walking home and randomly ran about a block at what was left of “full speed” but I was kind of bummed that it was time to go home. It’s probably good that I stopped when I did, though, because I developed a nice big blister on my left foot that was getting quite painful by the time I got home. Lame.

October 3, 2013

October 3

Total time: 16 min
Total distance: 1.3 miles

This was a rather uneventful run. It was a nice lovely fall day and... that's really all there is to say about it. (Partially because I waited so long to post this recap that I literally don't remember anything about it other than that it happened - I'm almost three weeks behind on my recaps, don't let the post date fool you, I'm assigning it to their actual day so I don't get backlogged again.)