Getting up is getting easier.
At least, that's what I told myself as I got moving this morning. I had laid out my clothes last night, so I didn't have to do much thinking, did all my little morning routine bits, and was ready to get out the door by 6:15. As I was moving around, though, I did notice some sharp pains in some unusual areas. As a runner, I'm used to having pains in my body pretty much all the time, but these were new ones - outside of the left shin and lower back. Why would something new hurt?
The bike. Alas, using all those new muscles actually, well, used them. So, naturally, there was a little bit of stiffness, but I decided that it wouldn't interfere with the run at all. Then, I made another fun decision. Today, I would take the dog.
It's been a while since we went on a run, just the two of us. In recent weeks, I've been concerned about the ever-increasing heat and - until a few weeks ago - my ever-increasing mileage. However, since I only had to do 3 miles this morning and the temperature was under 80, I figured she was due for a good workout. At first, she did not agree.
We went through her morning outside routine, and then took a turn to head down the hill, at which point, she clearly understood what was about to happen and was not at all amused. She tried pulling back a little, but in that, "Hey, wouldn't you rather come look at this tree?" sort of way. Once we made it to the bottom of the hill and were waiting at my stop light starting line, she focused herself for what lay ahead. She dragged a little behind for pretty much the entire run, which kept me from going too fast, but we still kept up a fairly strong pace, especially considering how long it's been since she's run at my speed.
On the way back, we walked across the narrow bridge, more for rest than caution. Since we got up early there weren't many other people or cars out there this morning, which helped prevent any of the usual focus issues that she has. One guy on a bike slipped off a curb and lost control for a second trying to get around us, but he was pretty good-humored about it, and everyone else we passed just smiled and nodded.
Then, in the last 3/4 of a mile, I decided to try and speed up. Given my recent endurance issues, strength at the end of the run is getting more and more important, and since we'd been cruising at a slightly slower pace for a while, I wanted to see if we could pick it up. Turns out we could. For the last 5-6 minutes, we sped up, not a lot, but enough that I could feel it in my legs. The pup stayed right with me, and we finished strong, though she was not happy about the remaining quarter mile or so we had to walk before we actually got back to the apartment.
I felt great this morning for a number of reasons. The dog got a great workout, and that's something we're definitely trying to get better about doing. In recent weeks, she's had a couple step backs behaviorally, which have no doubt been caused by all the travel and unfamiliarity of her surrounds in the turmoil that has been the last month and a half. Still, another big part of it is that she has a lot of energy, and if we don't take her for walks and runs that tire her out, she's going to devote that energy to less-than-ideal endeavors. Also, her little toenails are getting kind of long, and running on sidewalks helps keep them dull, so if nothing else, I'm psyched that I gave my dog a manicure today.
Most of all, I'm happy with how easy it was to get out the door this morning. It was just part of my morning, and now I'll be done with both my run and my blog post before I have to start work. This is how I would like all my mornings to go from now on. Even today I had a little dead space that I'm working to get rid of, but if all goes according to plan, by the time I've got 10-mile mid-week runs, I'll still be done in time for coffee.
One thing is certain - I'm officially off to my best start to a marathon training season ever.
25 Minutes, 46 Seconds