I’m on the tail end of a long weekend spent lakeside, and, man, I have officially found my happy place. I’ve always known that I’m a beach/water gal, and growing up in Maryland meant a lot of time at the beach. Despite the fact that I’ve been in the Midwest for, yikes, almost seven years now, this was my first bona fide lake experience. Verdict: amazing.
This morning’s run mixed things up, literally – 10 miles total, the middle 6 alternated between a 10K pace and a marathon pace (goal 6:45 and 7:30 respectively). At the start of each mile I ran 3 minutes at the 10K pace and then finished out the mile at the marathon pace. I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous about my ability to seamlessly shift gears for 6 straight miles without some kind of cattle prod or dangling carrot, and I had no idea how this would feel. I didn’t do anything crazy, like program my watch to try to hit my paces, I ran by feel and used an old school method of occasionally glancing down at my watch to make sure I was close to my target. Surprisingly enough, this was a great workout, for both my legs and my brain. Added bonus that I hit my target windows.
Greetings from storm central! Today has been wet and booming, though I’m not sad that things are cooling off after a steamy run this morning. Also, I seem to keep missing the inclement weather by a window of a few minutes on my morning runs, so I have managed to stay dry and unscathed. This morning I also managed to turn off my alarm in my sleep in a way that ended all subsequent snooze alerts, and yet still managed to miraculously wake on time (sort of), mostly in wondering why my alarm had stopped going off. I think I’ve discovered the true value of the snooze alarm function – conditioning yourself to expect more beeps so that when they don’t follow their absence will wake you up.
This morning I had a fun workout – 12 x 400 (goal 1:40), with 1 minute recoveries and a 2 mile warm-up and cool down. I ran the 400s on a flat stretch, cranked my music, and let it rip. Man, it felt good, like really good – fist-pumping, high-fiving good. At the end of the 12 repeats my legs were sufficiently tired, and I started the slow crawl home. Some days it seems like some runs are meant to be, and I filed this in that category, not just because I consistently hit my target, but because I managed to stay out of the path of an ominous storm cloud, and was instead gifted with a rainbow on its fringes when I turned the corner to head home. I mean, c’mon. Sure, it’s cheesy, but I’ll take it as a universal sign to keep trucking.
It’s a bad idea to sit down to write about your recent training when you’ve hit your afternoon wall, right? Oh well, here we go anyway. I blame today’s heat and humidity for my lethargy, though have vowed never to complain about weather extremes again. Usually the complaint goes something like “I would much rather it were 5 degrees right now instead of 90!” (This is never true. I never want it to be either 5 degrees or 90 degrees during a run – we all know better.) Instead, I shall dream of those in-between stages (spring and fall) that are neither too hot nor too cold. Besides, both the 5 degrees and the 90 degrees only make me a more robust, resilient runner, and there are some serious perks to both. If it weren’t blistering hot I wouldn’t know what it feels like to drip my way to the kitchen, desperately grab an orange out of the fridge, sprinkling in with salt and the subsequent joy in finding it to be the most satisfying thing to ever hit my lips (seriously, ever). Conversely, those cold winter mornings make it a-okay to throw on my yoga pants, wool socks, and then to sit around watching movies under a blanket at 10AM in the name of recovery. Win, win.
After being bone tired yesterday, like barely able to walk home tired, I accomplished my two main goals for last night and this morning: 1) sit on couch and enjoy my ongoing Gilmore Girls reunion; and 2) go to bed early and sleep the fuck in. I’m happy to report I stayed awake for two full episodes with the Lorelais, not to mention that one of these was probably my favorite episode, and then I went to bed and slept like a rock until 7 o’clock this morning (minus waking up once to sneeze). In case you’re dying to know, the Gilmore Girls episode that is at the top of my best-of list, is season four, episode 20, the one where Luke adorably buys self-help material to address his relationship hang-ups, post divorce from the very forgettable Nicole, and then finally asks Lorelai out. (Don’t be nervous, my fandom does not include a mental catalog of all episodes. I looked it up via everyone’s favorite knowledge machine, the internet.) We know Luke is in the middle of a renaissance, Lorelai doesn’t. We know he has just officially asked her out out, she doesn’t. It’s like Christmas, really. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, jump on Netflix now and binge watch until you catch up. You will not regret it. It’s an intelligent, watchable show, and I can vouch for its staying power. It’s been just as good the second time around as it was the first. File it under “recovery time” and you’re good to go.
Yesterday morning as I pondered the eight miles I was about to tackle, it hit me: eight is my new normal. As my training is increasing, obviously so is my mileage, and more and more eight milers are sneaking onto my training calendar as easy runs. I remember when I got to the point last fall that I was doing a mid-week long(er) run that started to hover around eight miles, namely because it was a Big Deal, and while it still feels on the longer side, it’s not stopping the presses with quite as much urgency. Slowly I have become used to running longer more often, which has also come with another new phenomenon: legitimate zoning out. I’ve always run with music, but I would frequently hit those days where it seemed like nothing good would come onto my music mix. But lately? I barely even notice my music. It’s been just a little whisper in the background as I’ve entered some state of running zen. I’m almost tempted to try running without it. Almost. Let’s not be rash.
Yesterday I did want us runner-type people tend to do, which is to use the holiday (July 4th) as a reason to get up at 4:40 AM, fumble around in the dark for my running gear, drive an hour, stand for another hour in cold(ish) drizzle, wait for a loud horn to go off, and then attempt to run 3.1 miles as fast as I could. It’s been so long since I’ve raced a 5k that I honestly had forgotten what it should feel like, and goodness knows I have no clue what I would even consider a 5k PR at this point. I mean, hey, if you can’t remember your PR, you’re guaranteed to run a new one, right?
I’m sitting here today with warm, tired legs from this morning’s speed workout, and that awesome sense of accomplishment when you’ve given a workout your all. Heck, I was even a good runner and went to bed early last night. It’s been a little under a month since I jumped on board with a coach, and I am loving having someone help me kick things up a notch. I love checking my schedule at the beginning of the week and seeing my workouts, I love that I’m doing more than one variation of speedwork per week, and I love that (so far) I’m feeling great doing it.
This past week I was visiting my family in the mountains, which meant very little runnable terrain. Super steep climbs, no road shoulders, and scary wildlife meant I was happy to park myself in the basement with the treadmill. Perhaps this was less adventurous than hoofing it up the mountainside, but I think this was my preferred method of off-roading. Fortunately I survived, dare I say thrived, five whole days of electric-powered workouts. I gave in to enjoying my music on the easy runs, and my coach had me do an awesome (and very distracting) tempo run that had me changing either pace or incline every half mile. It was probably one of the first treadmill workouts that I would venture to say came close to being fun, and having to think in half mile chunks really did make it seem short for 7 miles on the ‘mill.