Monday, August 2, 2010

And so it is August

This post will have a much more positive tone than it would have had I written it yesterday, on August 1. July ended well, with the Anacortes Art Dash Half Marathon (only a bronze, but a strong effort anyway; race report to come later). But August? August began with a whimper, at least in the running arena.

After running a half marathon on Saturday, I was really entitled to take Sunday off from running, and maybe I should have. But I had this misguided sense that I really needed to go for a run, maybe because it was the first day of the month, maybe because it would be my only opportunity for exercise in the day. I almost bagged it when Rod said we could put the boat in as early as 9:00, but he also didn't mind if I went for a run first (it was around 7 a.m. at that point). He did suggest that I keep it short, no more than 10K, which was a very good suggestion, as otherwise I would have felt compelled to do something crazy, like 8 or 10 miles, which would have been even more horrific than it was.

A few clues that running was not going to go well:

  • My legs were still stiff and achy from Saturday.
  • My ankle hurt--not badly, but enough to make me limp. Or lurch.
  • I had forgotten to bring a running bra.

Yep, that last one should have sealed the deal. But after shaking out all my running clothes, and other clothes, just to make sure that the bra wasn't hidden somewhere, I was so frustrated and irrated that I just wouldn't--couldn't--give up. I decided to wear a regular bra and fasten it as tightly as possible and see how things went. Yeah, really good idea!

So I headed out the door and man-oh-man, things were rough. Between the wonky ankle and legs and trying not to "bounce" too much, I was lurching along like a drunken Frankenstein. My Garmin was showing paces like 13 and 12. I'll admit, I have sometimes unkindly wondered how it is possible to run at a pace of 12 or 13 minute miles and still be running...well, it is.

It took at least a mile, maybe two, before the ankle eased up and stopped bothering me so much. I suppose around that time my legs also warmed up a little and I "sped up" to around a 10:30 pace. Since I couldn't see myself from the front, I don't know how much motion there was in the chest area, but it didn't feel too bouncy so that part was pretty much okay. Until after about three miles when the chafing kicked in....

The worst, but also best, moments in the run happened around my bathroom stop at mile 2.75. Around two miles I needed to go, but I decided not to stop at the grocery store I was passing (it was on the other side of a busy intersection, inconvenient) and go on to a Jennings Park restroom down the road. When I got there (around 7:45), the bathroom was locked. Oh. Dear. God. I really needed that bathroom.

I contemplated my options. Continue on to the next bathroom? More than a mile away, too far. Plus even if I cut through the park (which would be shorter), that one might be locked as well. My only real option was to turn around and go back up the hill to the grocery store.

I was about to do that when I saw a City/Parks truck pull in. I raced over to them and asked if they were going to unlock the bathrooms. They said yes! A huge relief. I was so grateful!

After that I continued on, bathroom issues solved, and the quality of my run improved slightly; I would say it went from craptastic to just sucky. I don't know how many times I contemplated quitting (that is heading back, I would still have to finish part of the distance to do so). At three miles I thought about newer runners who would be proud of finishing three miles, no matter how slowly. At four miles I decided to continue on for a half a mile, then turn around (leaving a mile or so to go after I retraced my steps).

I was going to finish at Starbucks but I was using up so much time with my slow pace and bathroom stop that I decided to eliminate the extra time it would take to get coffee and walk back from Starbucks. That meant, at the 5-mile point, heading out for another half mile or so, to get myself to the total of six miles (or 6.2).

I know this is pretty boring, but really, that's how lousy this run was. There was nothing interesting about any moment. Every half mile was pure torture. I never even got to the point of wanting to keep running more than wanting to quit! At 5.5 I turned around for my final half mile plus .2. I was just able to force myself to do another tenth of a mile when I hit 6.1 miles, so I could get to a full 10K. Then I stopped.

I didn't regret having done the run, but I didn't feel good about it either. The most I could say about it was, "well, that happened."*

The rest of the day did improve. We took the boat out for a run on the river and that was fun (though it was a little too cool out for full enjoyment) and, more importantly, everything on the boat ran like it was supposed to. Afterwards I got the Americano from Starbucks that I had passed up earlier (hurrah!) and we had lunch and hung out till we went over to my parents for dinner later in the day.

This morning, in order to stay on schedule, I went out for my usual Monday morning run, and I will admit, I was nervous. (At least I had a bra, though.) Happily, my legs were much better overall and my ankle, though I could feel it, wasn't hampering me at all.

That doesn't mean I was fast, though. My primary frustration this morning was (again), "how can an easy pace be 11-minute miles?" "Why, when I feel like I've sped up, am I still doing 10-10:30?" The usual.

I will say, though, that I felt much better at the 3-mile point than I did yesterday (when I just wanted to quit, or possibly die). After three or four miles I decided to liven thing up with a little fartlek effort. Push it for a block, then jog for a block. It made the distance pass more quickly and did a little bit to improve my average pace.

When I passed six miles (about two to go), I figured I might be able to get myself to an average 10-minute-mile pace for the whole distance, if I really pushed myself for the last two miles. I had already picked it up for mile six (9:25), held on through mile seven (9:31), and gave it my best effort in mile eight (8:56).** The moment I heard the Garmin beep the completion of mile eight I hit the stop button and checked out my total time: 1:20:00. Yes, eighty minutes

That small (very small) achievement gave me enough of a boost that I feel slightly optimistic about being able to continue running throughout August and beyond. (Yesterday I was slightly morose about my prospects.) I've even sketched out my marathon training plan for August and September. (More on that in another post.)

Other than my on-going goals (lose weight if possible, work on speed for 5K and 10K races, maintain moderate speed for half and marathon distances), my major goal for August is to get more sleep! I am really going to work on getting to bed earlier, because I can't plan to get up later (as nice as that would be).

*Yesterday, when I was mentally composing this post in my head, there was liberal use of the F-word. See how things have improved? And I didn't even describe the run as "shitty."
**Yes, my best effort was barely sub-nine. Sad.


P said...

Ha, ha! So many of the posts I write in my head use the f-word liberally. I tone it down a lot in the actual writing. :-)

runningitoff1 said...

oddly enough, since I'm having such a bad depressive morning your post cheered me up. Even through the biggest of obstacles you got the run done and after running a half none the less. Impressive and inspiring.

Lisa said...

I hate those days when it feels like you're pushing hard and you look down and see a slow pace.

I had to chuckle about the park bathroom not being open. I HATE that. I actually had to resort to the bushes once because the bathroom wasn't open. What kind of park doesn't open bathrooms until 8?? Geesh. I'm glad they were able to unlock it.

Oh... and I don't think I could run without a running bra. I forgot mine once and had a 1/2 marathon!! I was able to borrow one from my friend. My plan B was to use an ace bandage. LOL.