Chilly but Solid

I got in an eleven mile run today, as I had planned, and it went pretty well. I was a little slow in going, starting off with a ten-minute per mile pace. I was slogging. I was tired and a little hesitant. I have this itch in my calf–not quite sore, but a little stiff–that I wanted to make sure wasn’t going to turn into a full on injury. It didn’t.

I knew that if I could just get four miles into this run, I would settle in and feel good. And that is what happened. Four miles or about 40 minutes is the line for me where endorphins kick in and give the added boost that will get me there. It really is amazing how all of a sudden I just felt a lot better–faster, with more energy. It was the drugs I made myself. Home brew.

The air temperature was just above freezing. I started with gloves and shed them. I was dressed just right. I brought water but only drank some of it. I had a snack and it made it home. All was well, except I ran out of time.

My wife had an eye exam late in the morning. I needed to be back in time for her to be on time. A mile and a half from home I looked at my watch and realized that there was no way I could run fast enough to get back by the time she hoped to leave. Since she didn’t want to leave our children alone (smart woman, she) she was stuck until I made it back. I picked up the pace.

I ran fast, for me anyway, about 7 1/2 minute miles the rest of the way. That got me breathing hard. I had taken the precaution of carrying a cell phone in case my calf really did decide to give out half way. I didn’t want to be walking slowly and not dressed for it for several miles. So I texted her, still sucking wind and running hard. It was the first time I tried to text and run. I did it safely, I promise. All I said was, “Almost there.”

She and my son were waiting for me at the end of the driveway. She got the message. It wasn’t a big deal that she was a couple of minutes late. The eye doc was flexible. I sat with the kids, who had laid an early lunch spread on the table, sweaty and ready to take a break. After a while I took a shower and put on dry clothes. I got in 31 miles this week. Pretty good for where I am. Tomorrow off, then back at it at 5:30 AM on Monday.

December looks to be a good month.

Back at it Then Nothin’ Today

Yesterday I busted out the Camelbak (I had to wash it first, since I hadn’t used it since early summer), figured out what to wear, stashed a Clif bar in my pocket, and ran eleven miles.  Now to some, that may seem like a lot.  To others it may seem like a walk in the park.  It felt just right for me yesterday.  It was not a hot day.  It was 36 degrees when I hit the road.  That made dressing right a challenge.  It wasn’t cold enough to warrant an insulated hat but it was windy.  Would I need a vest under my wind layer?  What about gloves?  I bagged the vest, went with the gloves, and had a great run.

There was a half marathon in Shelburne today. I had considered running that, but ended up bagging it.  The eleven yesterday was the substitute. Well, it wasn’t really a substitute. It was just a longish run on a fine day.  My wife ran the half marathon. I stayed home to bake bread and let my children sleep in. Today was the truly fine day. Can you say September day? My plan was to run a short one today, maybe three or four miles, just to get out there. But with the bread baking and putting the last of the garden beds to sleep and raking and clearing some crap out of the basement and storing the summer furniture and making and apple pie and the rest of it, I just plain forgot. I have been so used to running in the morning that afternoon came and I forgot all about it.

So I got in nothing today. The long run felt good, however. My plan is to do that again next weekend. Sorter runs during the week, then eleven again on Saturday. Maybe I will plan to take Sunday off this time. That means rising early Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. I will take Thursday off since I have to head out to work way early. Then Sunday off. That sounds about right.  I am aiming for 30 miles per week for a while. I may just register for the marathon in Burlington this month, before it fills up. Six months ought to be enough time to train for it, for Mercury’s sake, so I should be fine with that.

Now that I am less nimble–I trained for my first marathon in 60 days–I need to take it easier. But I do not mean to plod along like an old man for the next several months.  Build up slowly so I don’t get injured (again), run the marathon in May, then the Vermont 50 in September.  Sounds like a plan to me.

GPS in the Dark

For Christmas my parents gave me a GPS unit. It is almost the same one that they have, maybe one version newer. My dad has been pretty into it since he got it and I guess he thought it might come in handy for me as well. I used it this afternoon and evening to drive down to the New Hampshire coast. It served me well.

Typically, if I drive somewhere I have never been, I get directions. I like to figure out where I am headed, to the last turn, before I start the car. But this time I did not do that. I had meant to, but just never got around to it. I was planning to rent a car to head down to save some cash for my organization (cheaper to pay the rental company than to reimburse me for mileage on my own car) so I used the new toy to get me there as I wasn’t sure where it was. That worked great.

Once I had the rental car I sat in the parking lot waiting for satellite connection. It took me a bit to find the location I was headed on the little black box, but once I did I was off down the interstate. Then it told me to just go on that road for 144 miles. Not much action there.

The thing has a lovely woman’s voice. She tells me where to turn right when I need to know. She is just so friendly, that GPS lass. Of course, her confidence can be deceptive. Once, when the family was headed out on an adventure together, the unit seemed to think we were a little off from where we actually were. According to that thing we were driving through rivers and buildings, but she just kept telling us to turn left or right.

It got dark as I headed down, on my own except for the lass, and I dutifully followed her directions. I turned where she told me to turn and ended up at a darkened building. It turns out that was the country club, not the hotel, so I rejiggered and turned about and after half a mile found the right spot.

I am not a huge fan of driving in the dark, especially in unknown locales, but I did manage to find my way, even without getting directions first. I was a little hesitant, and I don’t know that I’d go without a backup plan every time, but it worked. As I walked from my car to the main entrance to the hotel, I ran into a friend who is also attending the conference for which I drove all those hours. She said this: “I don’t know how I got here; I just kept on going and managed to find the place.”

Sounds about right to me.

One Foot After the Other

So on the one hand I feel all “look at me I’m running eleven miles when it’s twenty degrees and windier than the prelude to the Wizard of Oz” and I know no one else is out there and boy am I special and aren’t I one tough dude?  And on the other hand I feel all “I hope no one drives by because I’m so frikkin’ hot from working so hard and my remaining hair is plastered down to my tiny head with sweat and I’m plodding along slower than a three-legged dog on heroin” and so old-mannish I’m almost embarrassed.

Sometimes when I run for that long (two hours today you can call me Mr. Pokey McGillicuddy) I have way too much time to think.  I mean, who cares what I look like or how slow I’m going?  I’m running eleven miles when all you couch potatoes are reading trashy novels or watching old war movies or whatever and my lungs could beat up your lungs any day, so cram it if you think I look like some greasy old jogging slug.

I haven’t run that far since August.  Back then it was hot and at least no one could see my sweaty wisps of what is left of my hair because I wore a brimmed hat.  I wore a hat today but it was of the fleece-because-its-winter-and-I-want-to-keep-my-ears-no-frostbite-for-me-thanks variety.  Also, I wore shorts and short sleeves in the summer and any passersby could see my burly arms so they wouldn’t notice if I moved slowly in fact they would be grateful because they would be pondering my resemblance to Adonis.  But of course I had to go with sleeves today.

I have my mileage in for the week now.  I could give up on a run tomorrow and still be on the positive side of my goal.  Of course, the more I manage to get in the less I will plod.  My goal here really is about running far, but if I can enhance my image at the same time, who’s to say that won’t do?  I live here in the United States, after all, where image matters more than substance much of the time.  I’m just trying to get my piece, if you know what I’m saying.

Seriously, it was a good run–slow but I got it done.  That’s a confidence booster, for sure.  The wind is still howling, although the temperature is now just above freezing.  I’m glad I went earlier.  I wouldn’t want anyone to think I’m a wuss.

Getting in a Few Miles

So the deal is this.  I would like to run the Vermont 50 in September.  That’s 50 miles.  I’ve done it before.  I wanted to do it this past fall.  That was not in the cards.  I have plenty of time to make it happen.  I’ll tell you, though, it isn’t easy to get the miles in during the winter.  It is cold, it is slippery, I have to wear lots of clothing, I get sweaty, the roads are narrower, I use more energy, yada yada yada.

My schedule needs to match well in the winter, too.  Getting up early is fine when the sun gets up early, but these days I need to be long home by the time the sun gets to rising.  I do love to run early, but when it is 1 degree, like this morning, and dark and breezy and slippery…  You see where I’m headed.

This is why people don’t do things like this, I realize.  It is easy to make excuses.  It is easy to make other things a priority.  It is the accumulation of runs that makes it attractive to me.  Any given run might be a drag, or it might be amazing, but piling them all up makes for some feel-good stuff.  So I need to make it happen.

It will take time, I know that.  I will do a couple more short weeks of twenty miles or so.  Then I need to start getting in some longer runs.  By the time spring comes, I will hopefully be in the position to take advantage of the warmer weather right away.  When I ran the marathon in Burlington every year, I was always amazed at how many people I would see running once it got warm out.  I would have the roads to myself, as I do now, until the fair weather runners came out.

Already I feel pretty good.  Today was 10 degrees but I felt fine.  I got in a few miles before I had to meet my daughter getting off the bus.  I will run again this weekend, both Saturday and Sunday if all goes well.  I won’t get in that many miles for the week, but enough for now.  Once I get into it, I look forward to the next run.  I am starting to feel that way now.  My run today was too short.  I can’t wait until I can take the time to run the eleven mile loop.

That will feel like I am getting in the miles.  Then maybe 50 miles will seem within reach.