Friday, December 30, 2011
Today was a rare thing: A day off work, and also a planned non-running day. It featured an unexpected bonus, no fire drills from work on the last vacation day of the year. I had expected that there would be a last minute drill, which was part of why today was a non-running day.
I decided that today I would try to accomplish some more or less sedentary things. Of course, "sedentary" is a relative term these days. I did take a walk that mapped out to 3.67 miles, so I could get my 10K steps in; but I didn't push the walk hard.
Today I went and bought my next pair of running shoes. I've noticed some wear on the tread of my "new" running shoes, and I want a pair in the closet to pull out and use on short notice. This is a bit more urgent than it was, because I did this to my older pair:
I buy shoes at Dick's, which also carries YakTrax. I took a look, and saw only one pair of YakTrax Pro (for running); it wasn't my size. But at least I know what they look like now. If the do it yourself job above doesn't work out, I can order YakTrax for my size online. But if it does work out, I can do a total of 4 pair of shoes like that for 40% of the cost of one pair of YakTrax. Gotta try the cheap solution first; but I do like the idea that YakTrax can be put on and taken off of whatever shoes I normally run in.
Looking forward to 2012, it's almost tax season. I volunteer to prepare tax returns for low income people during tax season, and training of volunteers starts next week. I will be answering questions from new volunteers during training, so I had to get my certification done early. It's nice that most of the volunteers are only going to certify through the intermediate level; the advanced level and optional module tests were big on situations that we won't see in the low income client base.
Having got my tax training out of the way, today I did my traditional year end estimate of my tax return. The interest income will jiggle a little from my estimate with a dab to be posted tomorrow, but that shouldn't be a major change.
The first quarter of 2012 will be interesting. I'll be back at work full time, and work promises to be busy. I'll be putting 8 hours a week into volunteer work. And I want to find time to train for a half marathon on April 29. I may have bit off more than I can chew; weekends are looking pretty full from late January to mid April.
We'll see. If I can pull off training for a half marathon between now and April, training for a full marathon by September ought to be possible. But first, I need to see how practical a half is. It may be that the half is stretching the distance as much as (or more than) I should.
Thursday, December 29, 2011
I have this week off work. The work fire drills being what they are, I've been checking voice mail and email, and replying to a few emails from home. That's not too bad. Then yesterday I got a couple emails that needed a substantive reply, and might need me to print more than I want to on my home printer. So the plan was to get up early today and run, then head in to the office and get done what had to be done.
This morning it was 11° F (-12° C) out, with wind from the west a 6-7 mph. There was no new accumulation of snow. This is colder than I have run, but close enough that I can figure it out. I wore a warmer base layer, a midlayer, and a shell on top. I wore the warmer running tights and the wind pants. And, after consideration, I wore my usual (non-screwed) running shoes. Then I set out to run yesterday's route again.
Well. There was a bit more snow cover on the shoulders. They would have been a good test of the screw shoes I left at home. On the other hand, I was out an hour earlier today. That let me spend much of my time running in the traffic lane, moving over when there was traffic. Since it was dark when I started, I had my reflective harness, tail light, and head lamp. With light traffic both directions, many cars visibly moved over and allowed me to keep the edge of the traffic lane. That was polite.
Ran north, and all was as expected. Turned west into the wind, and it was a lot less noticeable than yesterday. Well, duh. I thought about removing my face cover, but I'd neglected to add lip balm this morning so I was concerned that 11° would be too cold.
Turns out I was a bit overdressed, but I coped with it. I noticed the inclines and declines on the westward route this time, but mostly I noticed the traffic and where the shoulder narrowed at intersections.
Turned south, and the shoulder was mostly clear on that road. The two hills were challenging. Turned east and crested the second challenging hill, and I had to slow to a walk. Since I'm not wearing my glasses, I can't read my watch; but I'm pretty sure it was less than a minute. Ran some more, and had to slow to a walk at the crest of the next hill. That's just wrong. I'm in better shape than that. Fail to read my watch, count 80 walking paces, and start running again.
The light bulb goes on. My legs are fine, but I'm having cardio issues. Maybe it's the face cover making me breathe too much of my own carbon dioxide? The wind, such as it is, is at my back for the rest of the route. I pull down the face cover, and run the rest of the route. It feels much better, breathing clean air instead of rewarmed air that's partly my own exhalations.
Lesson learned: Don't skip the lip balm. Count on running slower if I need the face covering. Ditch the face cover whenever practical.
The route maps out to 4.64 miles, in 34:18 for a 7:24 pace. It might have been in the 7:10 to 7:15 range if I'd ditched the face cover earlier and kept running. A good effort for a maintenance day, and learned a new lesson about cold weather running. The temperature warmed to 15° F (-9° C) while I was running. If I had to guess again, I'd go with what I wore yesterday. If I hadn't needed to go to the office, I'd have waited for the temperature to rise into the high 20s or low 30s.
Then I stretched, cleaned up, and headed off to work. Got done what I needed to do by 11; it wasn't as bad as it looked last night. So I get to keep my afternoon off, subject to more email indicating that something else blew up.
The week off isn't all I could wish, but it's not bad. And the accumulated email when I go back to work Tuesday will be no big deal; most of it is already dealt with.
Life is good.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Winter is here. It was 27° F (-3° C) this morning with snow in the air and a coating on the ground when I set out to run the route I scoped out yesterday. This is all on streets, with no sidewalks. It goes past a nearby tech park, so I got to deal with some commuter traffic as I started out at 7:43 am.
The wind was reported from the WNW at 15-20 mph, or from the W at 17 mph with gusts to 31 mph, depending on whether I believe the report from before I left or after I got back. I have no way of measuring actual wind speed, but it was definitely a stronger wind than I had run in before, and the major vector was definitely out of the west.
I made my best guess of how to adapt clothing for the wind: Added a tee shirt under the midlayer, and ran without my glasses so I could pull my neck warmer/face cover over my nose. I might not have needed that when northbound, but I really appreciated it when I turned west into that wind. Wore my lighter running tights, which would be fine for this temperature in light wind, and added shell pants for the wind over them. If I had to do it over, I might wear a shell jacket over the midlayer instead of the added tee; but what I did worked out okay.
Road shoulders were generally coated with snow, with partial melting nearer the traffic lanes. Traffic lanes were wet but not slick. It didn't take long to determine what kind of slick was represented by which appearance. The best footing was from running in the traffic lane; of course, I couldn't do that most of the time, either because of oncoming traffic or because of upcoming hills blocking my view of whether there was traffic.
There were inclines and declines on my westbound route, but I didn't really notice them. What I noticed was the wind I was running into, and the light snow that it carried. Early on, I was squinting a lot to keep the snow out of my eyes; by halfway through the westward stretch, either the snow was less or I'd adapted.
Southbound, I found mostly wet and non-slick shoulders, yay! This is the stretch with the hills, which are steep but not terribly long. Got through them all right, though I felt I wasn't running very fast. Under the conditions, safe trumps fast.
Turned back east, and for the first time I noticed that I had a tailwind. That's okay going uphill, and not so good going downhill on a slick shoulder. But not to worry; after I crested the first big hill, the tailwind was a lot less noticeable. The eastbound stretch had small rolling hills, no big deal for running but annoying in that they blocked my view of oncoming traffic. Hence, less running in the better footing of the traffic lanes.
By the time I turned back north toward home, I was feeling the effort. I had been told that it was different to run in snow, and that turns out to be the case. The snow wasn't deep enough to judge fairly whether it was like running in sand, which is the comparison I was given; but running safe on slightly slick shoulders is definitely a different motion than just running on good footing. Discretion being the better part of valor, I slowed to a walk at the first mappable point after I'd been running 30 minutes and treated the remainder of the route as a walking cooldown.
It mapped out to 4.05 miles in 30:18, for a 7:29 pace per mile. I think that's pretty good for the conditions I was running in, and I'm happy with it. I'm especially happy that I'm feeling pretty good the afternoon after the run.
The weather forecast calls for an accumulation of 1 inch today, less than an inch overnight, and another inch tomorrow. Given the weather service's propensity to over-forecast, that could mean anything from no additional accumulation to a bit less than an inch on the ground when I run tomorrow. The forecasters do better with temperature, which is supposed to be colder tomorrow. So any snow we get is likely to stick around, and there's some in my driveway right now.
Since there's a chance I'll be running on real snow covered surfaces instead of just the coating I had today, I doctored my old pair of running shoes with sheet metal screws. The current experiment is #8 x 1/2" screws, with bonded neoprene washers to limit the depth the screws go and provide tension to hold the screws steady. (Thanks to the Lowe's employee who suggested the washers when I asked if there were 3/8" sheet metal screws. I might get by with 1/2" anyway, but I like the tension and the possiblity that the neoprene will seal in any gel filling if the screws went deep enough to hit that.)
I was blessed with really good running weather in November, and better than seasonal running weather in December. Now it looks like true winter weather is upon me. I think I have what I need to keep running through the winter; if not, the missing pieces have to be fairly minor.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Today was a planned non-running day. But the weather was perfect for running this morning, and it was forecast to rain later (which it did) and snow tomorrow.
It was hard not to run, but the fact that I had planned today as a non-running day made it easier to listen to my body asking for a day off. It was kind of worrisome that the legs want a day off after only running one day, and less than 10K on that day. Better give them that day off.
I had some errands to run in the middle of the day, and some sedentary stuff that I wanted to get done, so I started off with a walk around the big section to the west. Normally, I walk or run around the big section to the east, where there are sidewalks and residential streets for route variety; but I wanted to check out the hills I remembered driving over. It looks like a good route to run the opposite direction of what I walked, lack of sidewalks notwithstanding. Best of all, it mapped out to around 4.65 miles, as compared to the 3.5 for the section to the east. 4.65 miles should be 30 to 35 minutes running, which is right where I want to limit the run tomorrow and Thursday.
The beat up legs got me thinking. Let's take all these runs I've entered into SP's fitness tracker, and put them in a spreadsheet where I can play with the numbers. Uh huh. When I was just running, I built up a base of around 17miles a week. Add the 5th day, and the base expanded to 20 miles. Start making the long run longer, and I ran 22 miles a couple of weeks. Then 26 miles the week ending with my 8.75 mile run.
Um. The commonly cited training material says not to expand your mileage by more than 10% a week. I ran into a familiar problem, letting my competitive nature drive me too far, too fast. Older and perhaps a tiny bit wiser, I figured it out fairly quickly this time. So what to do about it?
First, I'll only run 4 days this week. That was already in the plans. Second, since this is a week off work, I need to deliberately limit my Wednesday and Thursday runs. I think I can afford more than the 3.5 miles or so I would get on a weekday lunch run; but I can't afford to stretch them to 10K runs and then try for another long run on Saturday. So the 4.6 to 4.7 miles around the section to the west is looking good, particularly since it has a different pattern of hills to run.
Third, this confirms my previous inclination to limit Saturday's long run to 65 minutes or the same route that I ran last Saturday. I've got ahead of myself, and I need to let the body catch up to where this is normal before I stretch for any more.
Gotta keep that competitive nature under control. If I don't, the end result will be about the same as deciding not to run because other people are better than me.
Monday, December 26, 2011
This morning I woke one minute before the alarm. I was still tired, and tried going back to sleep; after about 10 minutes, I gave up on that and settled for being leisurely about the morning routine. Since I live alone, I can get away with calling it "leisurely"; if I were accountable to someone else, it would look suspiciously like "dawdling".
With one thing and another, and no particular hurry, I didn't hit the road for my run until 8:45. I get to run in the daylight, what luxury! It's 35° F (2° C) and cloudy. There's a west wind that's noticeable but not terribly strong. The streets are damp but not slick, and there's no precipitation in the air. I've run in similar weather, so there's no guessing about the wardrobe.
I did notice the mud stains on my left shoe. Oh, yeah. That was from where the step went "crunch" on Sunday. Apparently there was muddy water under the ice, I broke at about mile 2, and I didn't notice for the remainder of that run. The experienced runner at work has told me I'd be glad of the $13 wool running socks when (not if) I step into a puddle of slush. He was almost right; I was glad of the wool socks after the run, when I realized what had happened. My feet stayed warm for over 6 miles of running after that incident.
Today, there are no problems with slick spots and ice. I set out to run a similar route to what I ran 8 days ago, to work the hills. Early on, I concentrate on keeping the pace up a bit. I get a 7:08 split at one mile, which is before I get to the hills. I figure I should finish somewhere in the 7:15 to 7:20 average pace for the run.
Run the big hill, then all the little ones and the cross-hill road. Take a minor variation on the order of the hills, adding a small amount of distance. When I turn back onto my own road, I kick it up and sprint (kind of) the last 100 meters or so. The run times out at 41:03, and maps to 5.80 miles. That's a 7:05 pace.
Hmm. I didn't expect my average to beat the first mile, and it was faster than it felt like I was running. I would have guessed about a 7:20 pace, because I felt slow on the back end of the run. Then again, I kept consciously picking it up because it felt slow.
7:05 was my pace for a competitive 10K on Thanksgiving day. 5.8 miles isn't that much shorter than a 10K, and I was in much better shape at the end of the run today than I was at mile 6 of the 10K. I am probably more fit, but the bigger difference is that I had a more even pace today than on Thanksgiving.
The competitive spirit makes me think. I'm committed to a half marathon on April 29, with a long uphill. That's why I'm concentrating on working hills now. Sunday I had all the hills in the route, and managed a 7:27 pace even with snow on the ground. I managed a much better pace today with better footing and the expectation of taking tomorrow off from running.
If I can maintain a 7:30 or better pace for 13.1 miles, I should be very competitive in my age group for the HM.
Reminder to self: First goal is to avoid injury. Make sure you can actually run for 100 minutes before you start counting how competitive you can be with how fast you run.
Still, it looks like I've found another stupid motivational trick. Plop down the money to enter a half marathon, and I look at my running differently. I've got four months to figure out whether that's a good thing.
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