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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Properly Equipped

I absolutely did not want to run this morning. I was all excited about the run yesterday, but when I woke up this morning, I had no desire to move. It was cold and rainy outside. My legs were tired from my walk. I knew I had to work and we wanted to catch a movie today, so spending two hours exhausting myself did not seem like the best of all possible plans.

But my wife reminded me that I had to. So I did.

The weather was quite unpleasant, though not as bad as it could have been (if I were still up North). It was low-to-mid forties and had that rain feeling in the air. It actually did rain for a few minutes at one point.

On days like this, the absolute best course of action for me is to run a good ol' fashioned Out and Back. I run down one street until I'm halfway to the distance that I have to run, and then I run back. It serves several purposes. For one thing, it's easy, and I don't have to worry about whether I'm making the correct turn. For another, it leaves me no choice but to finish. At mile 10, all I wanted to do was stop and take a nap, but I knew that the slower I went, the longer I would have to be out there. There were no shortcuts to take. No easy way out. I had to run the distance, and there was nothing else to do.

Fortunately, I had some new equipment that made the whole thing more enjoyable. I got a pair of workout gloves, which I'll use for lifting primarily. However, on the long, cold runs, they're great for keeping my knuckles warm, which is usually the issue that I have in cold weather. The special bonus for me, though, was in my new headphones. I bought some over-the-ear headphones because mine kept falling out. Apparently, they make rubber coverings that you can put over your existing headphones that direct the sound into your ear and have a better grip, but they're $10, and brand-new headphones were only $20. Plus, they came with a three-year replacement guarantee, which is great for me, with how often mine break.

So, I got to enjoy my 14 miles today with Mumford and Sons and Red Hot Chili Peppers (who, incidentally, have more state names in their songs than any rock band ever has), and for once, I didn't have to fight with my right earbud the entire time. Why only the right one? No idea.

Today's run was the closest I've had yet to the actual course conditions for the Austin Marathon. Miles 2-7 were pretty much uphill. I thought, at the time, that this would be fantastic. Every step uphill in the first half is a downhill step that I'd have on the back end. Unfortunately, I pushed a little too hard on that uphill, and wasn't able to make the downhill work quite like I wanted to.

The trick to running downhill is to let the hill do the work. Stride out the legs and your weight carry you forward. You're not running faster, but you move faster because of good old gravity. This is difficult to do, though, when you're stopped every block or two for traffic lights, and when you're so tired and strained from the cold that you can't stride out. I managed to pick it up some, but I wasn't quite on the level that I wanted to be. For a bit, it was very frustrating.

Then I realized something. When I was training for my first marathon, before my surgery, I never made it past 13 miles in training. Today, it turns out, was the second-longest run of my life. And I still managed to be under training pace. Training Pace is any pace within 30 seconds per mile of my desired race pace. Given how incredibly slow my last two miles were, I'm thrilled to have been as close to race pace as I was.

And I'm sure it didn't help that I walked six miles yesterday. Should probably plan better than that.

Awesome things from today's run: 1) Army convoy of armor-plated humvees. Twice. I think they were lost. 2) Poodle in the side-car of an old-timey motorcycle. I cannot confirm, but I think I saw goggles.

My legs are killing me right now. Any time I sit still for more than 30 minutes, they seize up. Tomorrow is a 5K day, which means I've got to go fast. I've never found a better cure for stiff muscles than continued use. Tomorrow will probably be the hardest run of my training so far.

Bring it.

Today's run:
43 Degrees, Rain/Overcast
14.69 miles
2 hours, 4 minutes, 23 seconds

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