Monday, May 23, 2011
What a difference a day makes....
I love that song. There are so many different versions and performances, each and every one wonderful and moving. (That was Jamie Cullum.) What a difference a day makes, twenty-four little hours, brought the sun and the flowers, where there used to be rain.
Now, granted, in the Pacific Northwest, twenty-four little hours can take you from sun and flowers (last week), to rain and showers (this weekend), to sun and back to rain again (this week).
But a day can also take you from tired, beat up legs, to fresh, happy-to-run again legs, just like that!
Yesterday was a total rest day for me. Although I frequently have non-running days, I almost always fill in with some other kind of cross-training, and it is almost always on my legs. Yesterday I just took a completely lazy day.
Although I had a little bit of guilt about not working out (especially as there was a delicious pastrami Rueben sandwich lunch involved), I easily kept my total caloric consumption under 1800 even without burning any extra off. (And even with eating 3/4 of a Rueben sandwich and sweet potato fries for lunch!) That does lead me to believe that if there was some reason I could not exercise for a while (heaven forbid), I might be able to avoid eating everything in sight and gaining a ton of weight. Believe it or not (tongue in cheek here), when you are not exercising for hours at a time your body is less likely to demand massive amounts of food!
My heel had been hurting rather sharply (though sporadically) on Saturday and Sunday, so I thought the extra rest would be good for it too. I iced it with a cool pack on Sunday night and hoped for the best. Actually I wasn't especially worried, because sporadic heel, ankle, or achilles tendon pain is something I am used to, and it doesn't usually bother me when I am running. Running fast(er) seems to aggravate it a bit. (In contrast, I wasn't sore at all--in the heel or ankle that is--during or after the Boston Marathon!)
So after all this rest I gave myself on Sunday, I hoped to have fresh and happy legs this morning. And I did! Oh, getting out of bed was still a chore. That's probably as much psychological as physical. At about 5:30 I ran downstairs and grabbed some leftover coffee and a couple of Cookiehead mini cookies and brought them back up to eat in bed. I checked my email and looked at the weather forecast on my phone and on TV. It was actually a lovely morning! Mid-40s or so and lightly cloudy, but bright. I dressed in capris and my yellow Boston shirt. I put on a jacket and gloves, but ended up taking off the jacket after a mile and the gloves a few miles later.
Then I was off. My typical morning route these days takes me slightly uphill for the first couple miles, which I use as a warm-up, then back down again and onward. My legs felt springy and light. Mile 1 - 10:19 (unheard of for an early morning first mile!). I didn't see the actual split time on my watch, but glancing at it in mile 2 I thought that I might be able to get to two miles in 20 minutes, which would be a 10-minute pace in the first two miles--again, unheard of! Mile 2 - 9:43. So that was actually 20:02 for two miles, but still.
From there I cruised. Obviously I was going slightly downhill for a while, which is faster in any case, but I was genuinely running at an easy effort. Mile 3 - 9:30. Mile 4 - 9:28. Mile 5 - 9:38. Mile 6 - 9:34.
This was one of those morning when I really didn't have enough time for more than about six miles or 10K, but as usual once I get in the zone I hate to stop so soon. So I squeezed out another mile, this one with a little more than easy effort. I needed to get done and I wanted some speed! I was probably running the first half of the mile at the same easy effort and then picked up to around an 8-minute pace at the end. Mile 7 - 9:04. Finally, I ran around the block at QFC for another quarter mile at 9:33 pace.
Total 7.28 miles, 1:09:59, average pace 9:37.
I know that not every run is going to be this effortless. I am happy that my easy pace may be stepping back from 10:30 to 10:00, and any inroads toward 9:30 will be welcomed! If my easy pace gets faster, then my fast pace will get easier, right? I feel a lot like I did in the spring of 2009, where I came out of a dreary winter slump around about this time in the spring and went on to achieve PRs (as yet unbroken) in every distance in the fall of 2009. I would like to see some PRs again...but even if that does not happen, I want to run strong at a level that is right for me.