Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What a difference the day(light) makes

I love running...when I am at work and skipping over to internet explorer to look up new races to do. I love running...when I am warm at home in the evenings thinking about my plans for the next day and the weekend. But I don't so much love running at 6 a.m., when it is dark outside and very possibly cold and rainy as well, and I am tucked up in my bed pushing the snooze alarm.

My running schedule was a little messed up this week (in a good way), as I was able to do a medium long run on President's Day Monday, and take off Tuesday when it was horribly stormy and poured rain all day long. But my next scheduled run day was not until Thursday...and I didn't need to take two days off (though I considered it) I decided today would just be a bonus run.

Well, I decided that after lingering in bed for a little too long, listening to the wind blow outside and debating whether I should in fact just go to the Y instead (but I didn't really want to do that). Of course it got a little later than it should have been, so I finally decided that I would just do five miles (which is unheard of for me, I don't get out of bed for less than six miles) and just make it easy.

Although I wouldn't want to always cut my distance short, this decision gave me the boost to throw on my clothes and head out the door without too much more delay. Thanks to my delay, it was no longer dark outside (making the safety flasher on my jacket a little superfluous), and in fact it was much brighter than I had expected; there was a hint of blue sky and even sunshine looming.

But despite the blessed lack of rain, it was very, very windy. Blustery, even. My first few steps along the sidewalk (normally sluggish), felt light and speedy as the wind at my back pushed me down the street. That only lasted a moment, though, and as I turned the corner the wind turned against me and my graceful lope quickly turned to a stagger. In fact, the whole run would alternate between flying along with the greatest of ease and running right into a virtual wall.

While the benefit and detriment of the wind probably cancelled each other out, the benefit of running after sunrise on a sunny morning did not disappoint. I truly feel like a different person running during the day (this was from 7-8 a.m.).

I had no expectations for this run, which was good. Every time I felt like I was sailing along, a burst of wind would slow me down. Several times I had to grab my hat to keep it on my head, and once, at the intersection of Pacific and Colby, I was not quick enough and the wind took the hat right off my head and sent it hurtling along Pacific. Luckily it did settle by the curb, and I was able to run and get it back.

I definitely planned to run only five miles. But as I was nearing the point where I would turn to finish (which would leave me with about 5.25 miles), I looked at my watch and (even though my math skills are often deficient*) thought that I might be able to bring my average pace under 10 minutes with a strong downhill effort at the end.

So I hauled out the effort than I used for the end of the Birch Bay Half Marathon and pounded down Everett Avenue (a third of a mile downhill doesn't hurt your speed), and my 8:30-ish mile did the trick. Total 6.05 miles in 60 minutes, 9:55 average pace. I know that I am no speed demon, but it made me happy and gave me hope that I was finding my legs again.

I did pay the price for breaking my early morning promise to myself...the 8.5 extra minutes of running was about how late I was to work afterward!

*Even though I was a math star in higher math (calculus etc) in high school, I sometimes make crazy mathematical mistakes. For example, last weekend Rod ate a whole pan of tapioca that he had made with leftover half and half...I told him he had consumed over 6000 calories! Later review revealed that in fact it was 600-some calories in half and half (plus the tapioca mix). Not too different from eating a few servings of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Oops. He didn't seem too overly concerned, though.

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