Saturday, November 26, 2011
The plan this morning was to add the big hill to the Saturday run. I had mapped out a 5.05 mile route, with opportunities to add distance after getting past the big hill. That part of the plan came off as intended, but the run was not without its surprises.
The streak tracker tells me I have a six week streak of running 20 minutes continually at least 3 days a week. Before that, I had 5K training. You'd think in that amount of time, I'd have figured out most of the administrative details.
Perhaps I have figured out most of them, but some still surprise me.
This morning it was 48° F (9° C) at run time. My mind was in the mode of expecting some wind, so I went to get my compression tights. They weren't in the closet.
Oh, yeah. I only own two pair of light compression tights, and I used both earlier this week. They're in the laundry.
So I go with the colder weather tights. Because this isn't colder weather, let's just wear the tights and not put running shorts over them. Hmm. It's really warm for a compression top plus a midlayer. Bright idea: I have a colder weather compression top that's white. It's dark out, but it will be light by the time I finish. If I wear the white shirt, I won't need to wear the reflective harness and the blinking tail light.
Gear up to go, and find that I have no pocket to put my key in. No problem, the key is on an elastic band that can go around my wrist. Hang my cell phone on the side of my tights, and set out.
Less than 200 meters from my driveway, I realize my tights are slipping. The cell phone is too heavy to hang directly off the tights. It would be fine hanging off the running shorts, which have a drawstring. So I take grab the cell phone, pull up the tights, and run the rest of the way carrying the cell phone in my hand.
I could have hung the cell phone from the reflective harness I'm not wearing. Come to think of it, I could have threaded the harness through the metal keyring and eliminated the minor concern of having the elastic wrist strap break.
It's not long before I realize that I'm pretty warm for running. I could have got by in the lighter weight compression top and running shorts, and had both a pocket and a place to hang the cell phone. Oh, well. You can't expect it to be this warm before sunup in late November. And if I can deal with running in August, I can deal with being just a shade overdressed in November.
Get to the big hill, and it doesn't seem to be as intimidating as it looked on yesterday's walk. Perhaps that's because I get to the top faster running than I do walking. Get to the top, and I see a pretty glow in the eastern clouds. I'm a little early to see a good sunrise, and I'll be back in the shade of the hill when that happens.
Down the other side is every bit as impressive as it seemed yesterday. I have to pay attention to form running downhill, but it feels like resting. Looks like taking the hill the other direction would be more challenging. Of course, I should be running on the other side of the road for that, which requires crossing a major road twice; but it would have been possible to do that in stride this morning. Just have to get there early, I guess.
First opportunity to add distance was where I had done some little hill training before. I have three up and down segments I can add, and I feel good enough to add the first one. Halfway up, I know I'm not going to add the other two; but it went well. Downhill is not as impressive as on the big hill, and I deal with it. Then comes a lot of flat territory, which just flows by.
Get to thinking, there's a little hill close to home that I hardly ever run. There are two ways to adjust my route to cover it. I choose the longer way, Get there, and it's hardly a hill. More like a little hump. I used to be intimidated by that?
All this time, I'm not trying to run fast and I'm not trying to run slow. I get to my driveway at about 46:30, and figure I've covered 10K. It maps out a little short at 6.18 miles. I averaged a slow 7:31 pace per mile. That's okay. The point today was to add the big hill and check out possible roads for when there's snow, not to be fast. It's fine to push for speed in organized races, but if I pushed every routine run I'd burn out and quit.
Come to think of it, maybe those "hills" on the 10K Thursday were daunting because I was running fast. If I'd maintained a 7:15 pace for the first half of the race instead of a 6:38 pace, the second half might have seemed a whole lot easier. Not that maintaining a training pace was going to happen in a crowd of runners.
Cool down, stretch, clean up. Check the budget; I have some money left for clothing. After meeting daughter at McDonald's for the standing Saturday breakfast, I go shopping. Get two more pair of light compression tights, and another midlayer because I only had three. Now I'm set to run four days a week in weather that requires a midlayer and tights every day. Hopefully the weather won't require the warmer tights and the warmer tops every day until I have more of a clothing budget.
Tomorrow I shouldn't run as far. Let's see . . . if I take the big hill the other direction, which is harder, but go the most direct route, that comes out to around 3.5 miles. Maybe if I'm up early enough to run before church. I'll think of something else if my run is deferred to the afternoon.
Friday, November 25, 2011
Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving. A day off work for many Americans. A national day of shopping. Buy Nothing Day.
There are almost as many traditions for the day after Thanksgiving as there are for Thanksgiving Day. I ignored most of them.
I took the day off work, with the intention of hanging curtain rods for my daughter. This did get accomplished. Daughter had the hardware she needed, but did not have the expertise, tools, or hand strength necessary to get the job done. That's what fathers are for.
Of course, that didn't take all day. The rest of the day was pretty unstructured.
I went for a long walk in the morning, checking out a major hill near home that I might want to train some running on. Yes, it's longer and steeper than the little hills I've trained before; but the time is near when I need to do this. The 10K I ran yesterday was described as mostly flat, with some gradual inclines; those inclines were almost as steep as the worst hills I've trained, and as long as the longest ones I've trained. If that's an easy course, I need tougher training.
Before hanging curtain rods, I delivered a pumpkin pie to daughter. She offered me a slice, and I declined. Instead, after the rods were up I bought her lunch at Taco Bell. This is not a food disaster for me; Taco Bell can be fit into my food plan pretty easily.
Did a dab of shopping, managing to just get a reminder of why I don't want to be in stores on Black Friday. It could have been worse. And then I went home, where the other pumpkin pie waited for me. I had a slice while watching the last of the Nebraska-Iowa football game.
I had not realized how much better pumpkin pie would taste when I eat is slowly, savor it, and think about not having any more.
Hmm. Look at the nutrition planner. Plan dinner. I can make room for a second slice in the evening. Did that, and the second slice was every bit as good as the first.
So I finished the day near the top end of my calories, and in range for macronutrients. I finished yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, 169 calories over the top of range, but in macronutrient ranges. That was thanks to having the trimmings from the pie crust when I baked the pies.
I'm in maintenance. The generous calorie range lets me fit two slices of pumpkin pie into today. I've been concerned about the weight going down instead of sideways.
So why does it bother me that I went over range by a small amount yesterday and am near the top of range today? Isn't that what I need to do right now? Maintenance is enough of an intellectual puzzle to figure out. I don't need this emotional elbow jiggling, too.
Oh, well. Tomorrow is Saturday. I'll be up early, and run before meeting daughter at McDonald's. The plan is to put that big hill in, and decide after the hill just how much further I'm running. Thanksgiving is over, and it's time for life to return to normal, or as normal as it gets between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
As planned, I set out to run a competitive 10K on Thanksgiving Day. The day was sunny, but a bit chilly before race time. It warmed up to be good running weather, probably near the forecast of 41° F (5° C) at race time.
There were 1095 participants, which made quite a crowd at the starting line:
Split times were offered at mile markers and at 5K. As I passed mile 1, I heard 6:30. Dang competitive juices, I didn't think I was running that fast. Better slow down if I want to finish. Mile 2, I heard 13:09. I thought I slowed down more than that. Mile 3 was 19 plus something high, I don't remember. The 5K split was 20:34, which kind of blew me away. That's faster than I ran a 5K on November 6, and I didn't leave much in the tank then.
I didn't hear the split at 4 miles. I think it was 34:57 at 5 miles; I know I was much slower on miles 4 and 5. I thought a lot about slowing to a walk in that stretch, but managed to keep running. This was mostly into the wind, and much of it was up an incline. I heard the split at 6 miles, but can't remember it.
But I kept running to the end. My daughter caught this shot of me approaching the finish line:
I kept running all the way, and managed a bit of a sprint to the finish line. Final chip time was 43:52.462, for an average pace of 7:05 per mile. I felt pretty good about both running all the way and that time:
That turned out to be good enough to place 122nd in a field of 1095 participants with 1011 finishers. I went to the awards ceremony to find out how much faster the age group leaders would be than I was. To my surprise, I turned out to be the age group winner for males 55 to 59. I was 39 seconds ahead of the next guy in the group. Instead of medals, they handed out envelopes.
In my envelope was $25. I hadn't looked at the prize list, and wasn't expecting money for age group leaders. Well, I'll take it. It will pay for my $18 entry fee and most of the gas I burned getting to and from the site twice (packet pick up, and race day).
Got a nice visit with my daughter out of the deal, too. Came home after the race, and had one of my typical dinners for lunch. (I counted the post-race banana, yogurt, and bagel as a snack.) Daughter wasn't hungry, but accepted a salad with chicken breast meat. At this point, it looks like I can finish Thanksgiving Day in calorie range and eating mostly healthy stuff.
Life is good, and I have much to be thankful for.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Today has been a day of various weight and fitness related things. I'm in maintenance, but I got up today and saw a new 25+ year low weight. This one isn't freaking me out as much as last week's did, because it inched on instead of being a dramatic drop; but the weight is still coming down.
Work was fairly slow, as is typical of the day before Thanksgiving. I walked on my lunch hour, because I'm not running the day before an organized race. I took off in the early afternoon, and used daylight hours to get groceries. The most crucial things that had to be bought were things I wouldn't have even had on the list five months ago: bagged salad and bananas. I did give in to my own demon and bought pumpkin, evaporated milk, and pie crust. The idea is that my daughter will be here tomorrow, and even though we don't have a real Thanksgiving dinner scheduled she does like pumpkin pie.
As the daylight was fading, I got into my car to go pick up my packet for the local 10K tomorrow. "Local" turns out to be a relative term. It took me 37 minutes to drive from my driveway to the parking lot where the race starts/ends, and I had favorable traffic for most of the route. Check in tomorrow morning is 8 to 8:30, so I had best hit the road by 7:30. Good thing I've turned myself into a synthetic morning person.
Much of today I was hungry. I'm not sure how much of that was due to which cause. Probably part of it was psychological, from seeing that low weight in the morning. Probably part of it was really a need for more water, as I was drinking rather slowly in the morning and early afternoon. Possibly part of it was real hunger, with my body trying to tell me that 2500 to 2580 calories per day isn't enough for as much as I'm running.
As fate would have it, when I got close to 2500 calories with dinner the hunger became insignificant. I planned out an evening snack featuring whole wheat toast anyway, to come close to top of range. The extra carbs can't hurt the day before I run a 10K.
As I ate my toast, it occurred to me that this was pretty bizarre. I'm reading about how lots of Sparkers are trying to do damage control to prevent weight gain over Thanksgiving. And on the day before Thanksgiving, here I am deliberately eating toward the high end to try to prevent weight loss. Yeah, I know. That's not what some of you wanted to hear.
Going down the checklist, I think I have stuff covered. Got the food for the day eaten. Got my running clothes for tomorrow laid out. Got the bag packed with the stuff I don't think I'll need, but I know to pack because sometimes I get 34° when the forecast said 41°. I know what I'll eat for breakfast. Got a text message sent to my daughter with the revised schedule, giving her an opportunity to bail on accompanying me to take pictures.
It's been kind of a strange day, but not a bad day. Tomorrow should be a good day, dominated more by exercise than by food. Come to think of it, a lot of people would think that's a strange day for Thanksgiving.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Today was the last run before the organized 10K on Thanksgiving. The weather forcast said it should be 41° F on my lunch hour, and I packed my gym bag accordingly.
It was actually 34° F when I went to run. Memo to self: Put stuff you don't expect to use in the gym bag. Having my real running hat instead of an ordinary ball cap would have been nice. Having an extra tee shirt to add a layer, or a heavier base layer, would have been nice.
In spite of being dressed for not quite as chilly, the run was pleasant. I covered 3.47 miles in 25 minutes, and didn't feel like I was pushing hard. That's a 7:12 pace per mile, which is toward the fast end of my training range; but being a little chilly motivates me to keep moving.
When I got out of work, it was dark and raining. It was lousy weather to walk back to the gym. There was a line of cars backed up getting out of the parking garage. It was also lousy weather to be driving in 5 PM traffic.
I decided I disliked rush hour traffic in the rain and the dark more than I disliked walking through the rain. So I put the gym bag with the dirty running clothes in my trunk, pulled out the gym bag with my swim suit, and walked back to the gym. That other gym bag has spent a lot of time in my trunk; today was the day I finally got my act together to see how swimming would be, 30 pounds lighter than the last time I swam.
I swam about a half mile in 31 minutes. This isn't speed demon territory, even by my rather slow swimming standards; but it was a nice relaxing swim. I cycled through all the strokes I know, and did a short pass at underwater swimming to confirm that my buoyancy is more like it was in high school than like it was the last time I swam. That wasted enough time so I could drive home in light traffic instead of frustrating traffic.
The important thing about this evening wasn't the swim. It was the motivational reaction to the rain. There have been times when I would look at the weather and just want to get home ASAP even if it meant sitting in traffic. Today I looked at the weather and decided I'd rather exercise to pass time while the traffic thinned out. This was a better decision for both my fitness and my stress level.
To be honest, not all my decisions were that virtuous. I wimped out on going grocery shopping in the rain. That will force me to go tomorrow after work, when it's going to be crowded and the forecast says it should still be raining. But I guess I'll live with that consequence tomorrow.
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