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Busy Saturday, Long Run Cut Short

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The past few weeks, I've had a Saturday routine. Get up early, go through the breakfast and minor exercise routine, interspersed with laundry. Go for my long slow run in the morning, and get my laundry out of the way before my daughter shows up to do her laundry. Lunch with daughter, nice chat catching up on what's going on with her life.

Today, the schedule was made more challenging by tax training from 8:30 to 4:30. If I got up at 5, I could fit the long run in before training; but then I wouldn't get the laundry done. That decision was easy because I slept in till 5:30. Got the last mandatory load of laundry into the dryer before leaving for tax training, and lunch with daughter stayed on schedule. This forced the long run into the afternoon, starting at 2:45 to be sure I had daylight.

The good thing about this was that I got near-perfect running weather. 56 F, SSW winds 9-11 mph, and it felt so good that I told RunKeeper it was sunny. I later realized it was only hazy sunshine and being in a really good mood.

I was in such a good mood that I started out just running. When the app told me my pace was 7:22 per mile after the first minute, I made a conscious effort to slow down, but didn't really slow down as close to an 8 minute mile as I have in past runs. I need to work on that.

The plan was to run for 9.4 miles. This was mostly the same route as last week's 8.3 miles, with an extra detour near the end. Aside from failing to control my pace very well, it was a good run through the first 6 miles. Along about that point, I stopped caring about the pace. After all, it was only another 3 miles or so and I still felt good!

Two days of highs in the 40s and a half day of warm rain yesterday had left the shoulders all clear of snow, and the sidewalks mostly clear enough to run on, given that I could trust the wet spots to be water and not ice. There were only a handful of spots where I was running on sidewalks and had to alter my stride to avoid patches of snow and ice from either total failure to clear sidewalks or a business plowing the sidewalk shut at the intersection with its driveway.

I was composing in my mind a blog about how nice it was, and that this would be the longest continual run I've done in my life; but that turned out not to be the case. A bit after the last opportunity to turn and bail for less distance, I got an ache in my right hip. It's an odd spot, kind of like I just moved hard sideways into a brick wall. I had this same ache two weeks or two ago, and it altered my gait on Sunday. I didn't blog about it because it got better by Tuesday, but I remembered it.

Mr. Testosterone told me it was only another two miles, just keep running. I told him to shut up, stopped, and fumbled with my iPhone to stop the RunKeeper app. Then I turned around and retraced part of my route, walking the shortest way home as my walking cooldown. I listened to Mr. Testosterone too much a year ago. This year, I want to keep running even if I don't stretch the distance as much as I (or Mr. Testosterone) would like. So I did the adult thing, and quit when it hurt.

Back home, I stretched, found dinner, and got distracted by the Denver-Baltimore game. Through the evening, I kept getting up to walk around the house doing more laundry, and various other household tasks. I recalled that last time, the hip got better with gentle use more than with total rest.

So, the total run turned out to be 7.88 miles in 58:07 for an average pace of 7:23 per mile:




RunKeeper shows a total variation of 113 feet in elevation. Running the hills felt good. I got to where the gentle inclines were pretty much like running on level ground. It was all good, except the part about having to stop before I was done. And even then, the bad foot didn't complain any more than anticipated. It was a different ache that stopped me.

But that's the way it is. First priority is, stay healthy enough to keep running. If it turns out that I can't stretch to 13 miles by the end of April, that's the way it turns out. That's my mantra, anyway. I need to keep reminding myself of this, because having paid the entry fee to that half marathon makes Mr. Testosterone's voice a bit louder.

Right now, I'm glad I didn't realize I was only a mile and a half short of done instead of the two miles I was thinking. If I'd been thinking it was that short, I might have listened to Mr. Testosterone. And that would have been a really stupid thing to do.

I think I'll be able to run a shorter distance on Tuesday, and that's Plan A. There is a chance that I'll need a Plan B, but I'll address that if it happens. I think if I had kept running that last mile and a half, there would be a major chance I'd need a Plan B for Tuesday, and some chance I'd need one for the following Thursday as well. Been there, done that. I'd rather not go there again.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RUN4FOOD 1/13/2013 2:49PM

    "First priority is, stay healthy enough to keep running. If it turns out that I can't stretch to 13 miles by the end of April, that's the way it turns out. That's my mantra, anyway."
That's a good mantra.
Being able to run, even though it is shorter than you desire, is better than not running at all.
Hope your hip feels better soon.

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MEXGAL1 1/13/2013 9:06AM

    good job listening to your body....pain is always a sign we shouldn't not listen to.
Have a terrific Sunday.

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MDOTZERO 1/13/2013 8:30AM

    Very good reminder to heed the warning signs by listening to your body!

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MSLZZY 1/13/2013 8:21AM

    Sometimes pain gets our attention for a reason.
Hope all is well today.

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ONEKIDSMOM 1/13/2013 5:51AM

    Good job keeping the reins in the brain and putting Mr. T in his place. emoticon

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RG_DFW 1/12/2013 11:15PM

    Probably a good thing to listen to the body first

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DALID414 1/12/2013 10:20PM

    Good job listening to your body, it's the best thing you can do

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HEALTHIERKEN 1/12/2013 9:55PM

    Kevin 1, Mr. Testosterone 0. You win all the way around! Good decisions, good health, good long-term running!
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Looking toward a Half Marathon

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's the first quarter of the year, and life gets a little busy for me. This year, there's an early timeline for the annual pointy-haired performance review process. It's my least favorite part of the job, but it has to be done. As is typical, the pointy-haired nonsense lands right when I'd like to use my time and energy for work that will actually make a difference to my employer. But I deal with that.

At the same time, my volunteer job doing tax returns for low income people is starting up. I've spent some time getting up to speed for this year's training, and will spend some more time on that Saturday. Then I'll put 8 hours a week into the volunteer job from January 21 through April 15.

On top of all this, I committed to running a half marathon on April 28. A rational observer might ask, "What on earth is he thinking???"

Good question. I know that my paid job is going to be busy, and I know that I have a time commitment to the volunteer job. But Saturday, when I mentioned the Flower City Challenge to my daughter, she asked if they had a 5K. Yes, they do. Then she said she wouldn't do that one because she won't get her tax refund (i.e., won't have money) until after the price goes up beyond what she's willing to pay. So I opened my mouth and said I'd pay her entry fee if my foot got enough better for me to sign up.

The bad foot didn't complain at all on Sunday, and was good enough to let me run on Monday. I didn't run on Monday for other reasons, but I could have. So the decision was made. Yesterday evening it turned out to be convenient to go pay the entry fee, and now I'm committed. I'm not just committed to myself, I'm committed to giving my daughter a ride to the race venue with me.

So, how am I going to manage this, with a busy work schedule plus a volunteer job? I actually have a plan. The plan is to run 3 days a week, with a long run on the weekend, and gradually stretch the long run till I can cover the distance. I have 15 weeks to get there, and the last week is traditionally a taper.

I might do a little speed work, or I might not. Speed is not the focus. Running the entire course is the focus. The course for this half has a stretch of continual incline starting about at mile 6, and lasting 2 or 2 and a half miles. It starts out gentle and just gets steeper and steeper till it gets into the hilly part of the city and goes up and down quite a bit. So . . . I'll be doing a lot of hill work in training. I have some hills that I can get to from home that I can practice on.

The weekday runs will be time limited because of the work schedule. I can afford 30 to 35 minutes running on a day I work from home, like today. In the winter, I will likely run the route I ran today quite a bit. It has a 65 foot variation in elevation between the highest and lowest point, with two little hills that are fairly steep where I'm going up.

This morning I got up early, though not as early as a week ago. I debated about whether I had enough time before work, and decided to run anyway. It was cloudy, 36 F (2 C), SW wind 7 mph, mostly dry asphalt on the shoulders. Traffic was heavier than a week ago, because I was later into the commuter hour. I covered 4.66 miles in 32:07, for an average pace of 6:54 per mile. Splits were as follows:



I can do this two days a week, weather permitting. After a week of no new snow and some partial melting, I'm feeling better about making it through the winter running this year. It's amazing how even 2 or 3 days of not having to shovel snow improved my outlook on the weather.

The real action will be the long slow run on the weekend. The plan is to run 9 miles or so on Saturday. That means Saturday afternoon this week, because I have more tax training Saturday morning. When I get into the actual tax prep season, it will be running in the morning before volunteer work in the afternoon. I expect to vary the route for the long run, as it gets longer and longer.

The wild card is how well the bad foot tolerates stretching the distance. It's feeling pretty good about things after 4 weeks of the long run being roughly 8 miles; I'll have to see how well it likes 9 miles. But that's something I'll deal with.

If it turns out the bad foot doesn't get enough better to let me run 13 miles by the end of April, I can always back down to the 5K. I'd rather not have to do that; but I think I want to run 3 days a week in May more than I want to complete a half marathon at the end of April.

Oh, well. I can worry about the mileage not stretching out far enough if things play out that way. Right now, I'm happy that the mileage stretched to 4.6 miles being comfortable by the time I needed that distance to be able to run on the plowed shoulders.

And the snow under foot? If it happens, it happens. My new shoes came in, so I can make a pair of screw shoes out of an older pair whenever I need to. I'm leaning toward not making them until they're absolutely necessary. I got through one major snowstorm without them. If it doesn't get any worse than it's been, I might not need them at all.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEXGAL1 1/12/2013 10:37AM

    woo hoo...get it done!
Have a terrific week end.


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HANSBRINK 1/11/2013 4:00PM

  Sounds like fun, except for the cold weather. Good luck with the hills and with the training schedule. If I may suggest, make 15 miles your longest run before the race. For me, doing so added a sense of confidence that I could finish the half.

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MSLZZY 1/11/2013 12:34PM

    Somehow, you always manage to get it done. WTG!

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RG_DFW 1/11/2013 10:51AM

    emoticon

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KRISZTA11 1/11/2013 6:24AM

    Sounds like you'll not do much other than working, running and sleeping for a couple of weeks...
That's tough!

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ONEKIDSMOM 1/11/2013 6:10AM

    Your half is a week before my full. I hope that this year your training / your daughter's support will pull BOTH of you through to and at your races. And you KNOW your sister(s) will be cheering from afar, not to mention your nieces who are also "into" fitness.

This is one strong family! Spark on! emoticon

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PMRUNNER 1/10/2013 10:33PM

    Good luck, hope the foot (an every thing else) stays healthy! Looking forward to hearing more about you progress and the race.

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BLITZEN40 1/10/2013 10:00PM

    That's great that you've signed up and that your daughter will be joining you. It's always nice to have someone to go with, even if she's doing a different race. Not sure what your foot condition is but if there's something you can do to support it (wrap, etc) during training and the race, perhaps it might help. Good luck!

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GREENGENES 1/10/2013 8:44PM

    Fabulous. You are so good at sticking to your plans I'm confident you can pull it off. Thank you for volunteering your time to help others.

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NWFL59 1/10/2013 8:40PM

    Sounds like a very thought plan. You'll do well and lets hope the 'bad' foot continues to heal and be at the 100% level well before the race in April.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MAGGIE101857 1/10/2013 8:35PM

    Sounds like a great plan - similar to Jeff Galloway's plans for the Disney Half and Full. Hoping your foot holds up; as you said, you want to keep running. Same here!!!It's nice to have a goal to work towards, especially during the busy times because that's when we let our goals slide!!

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Lines in the Sand

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

My sister talks about having lines in the sand to defend her physical activity when work gets busy or life otherwise tries to interfere with her efforts to maintain fitness. It's a good concept, but for quite a while I did not have such lines defined.

In the past few days, I've determined where my lines in the sand are.

During tax season, I volunteer with a local VITA organization to prepare tax returns for low income people. This requires training each January, and the training is sedentary. Also, the training that fits with my work schedule runs 5:30 to 9:30 PM. The first of 3 such sessions was last Thursday.

Part of supporting my healthy lifestyle has been getting enough sleep, which means getting to bed early enough to get enough sleep before I need to get up. This has turned me into a synthetic morning person. Translation: I start to fade about 8:30 PM, and learning new things after 8:30 PM is difficult. I managed to get through Thursday, though I didn't get to bed on time.

Line in the sand #1: In bed by 10:30 at least 6 days a week. Getting to bed by 9:30 is better, and 7 days a week is better.

Sessions 2 and 3 of the training are today and tomorrow, with the test tomorrow. But there is an online option to train (just the federal return, but we covered the changes for New York on Thursday). I resolved to try to get the test out of the way with the online Link and Learn program, so I could go to bed on time today and tomorrow.

Saturday was a bust for online work. I did my long run in the morning, and had a nice afternoon with my daughter. Got a little bit of work on taxes done in the evening, but I faded and went to bed.

Sunday I made more progress, but got distracted by the NFL playoffs. That, and I had to break to take a walk. Otherwise, I wouldn't have got my 10K steps in.

Line in the sand #2: 10K steps per day. I might settle for less than 11K, but 10K is mandatory.

Monday was a day off work so I could donate blood. I walked early to ensure the 10K steps. But most of the day was in the computer room, doing either household financial chores or studying taxes and taking tests. I got to bed on time Monday, barely; but I also finished those tests and printed my volunteer agreement with the scores.

I missed lifting weights Sunday and Monday to the sedentary activities. Apparently, strength training is not a line in the sand.

Today is Tuesday, a work at home day. I would traditionally write a blog describing my lunch run. The short version: 37F, sunny, SSW wind 10-12 mph. 4.65 miles in 37:17, for a 6:44 pace per mile. The shoulders were dry pavement, apart from a few patches of snow that I was able to avoid pretty easily. Being able to run after two days of being mostly sedentary was a good stress reducer.

Running, as much as I enjoy it, is not a line in the sand. I have had an extended period of not being able to run regularly, and I certainly am going to try to keep the regular running up. But it is not realistic to suppose that I will never be injured or sick, and in any event running cannot be an every day activity. I think I might be able to sustain 4 days a week, when the bad foot is 100%; right now I'm happy with 3 days a week and a natural pace over 4 miles that is a hair faster than my first competitive 5K.

To support the run on Thursday, and to support a walk this morning that guaranteed my 10K steps, I ate quick cooking oatmeal at breakfast instead of my preferred steel cut oats. It cooks faster, and the time was more important to me. But even with the quick cooking oatmeal, I found time for three sets of pullups du jour and three sets of pushups interspersed with preparing breakfast.

Line in the sand #3: Exercise during the morning breakfast routine. It's been pullups and pushups for a while. Before that, it was more extensive exercises while I was unable to run. Before that, it was kettlebell Turkish getup/windmill combos and kettlebell snatches. But it's always something, and I got that something in through two very sedentary (for me) days. On good days, I'll get the KB TGU/windmills and snatches in as well as the pullups and pushups; but getting one or the other is a line in the sand.

I don't think I have any other lines in the sand. You might ask, what about eating to plan? That's not a line in the sand, that's written in concrete. Thursday I had two pieces of pizza that were hard to work around, but I got it done. Today I didn't eat any of the free pizza when I went to training to turn in my volunteer agreement and free up the rest of this evening and tomorrow evening for other purposes. That was another thought in my mind while doing the training online; I'm better about declining free pizza than I was a year ago, but it's safer to just avoid it.

Lines in the sand for fitness is a great concept. These are things you will do, regardless of how much life gets in the way. Right now, my lines in the sand are:

1. Exercise in the breakfast routine, currently pullups and pushups.
2. 10K steps per day, even if I have to go out and walk at 8:30 PM to pump the pedometer number.
3. Get to bed on time at least 6 nights a week.

How about you? Do you know where your lines in the sand are?

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PLMITCH 1/10/2013 8:31AM

    Great concept! I have to think about what my lines in the sand are vs. what is etched in concrete.

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BLITZEN40 1/10/2013 1:25AM

    Looks like you have a good routine. Way to go turning away that pizza and again, great pace on the run! Not sure I have any lines in the sand, but did recently purchase a pedometer that I've now deemed totally useless. Took it for the exact same walk, same route, same distance 2 days in a row and it measured almost a thousand steps different and over 3/4 mile different from day one to day two. So while no lines in the sand, I am thinking I might bury my pedometer in the sand.

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GREENGENES 1/9/2013 7:27AM

    Nice concept. I also really like the distinction between lines in the sand and those in concrete.

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ON2VICTORY 1/9/2013 12:56AM

    I seriously need to draw some lines...way too much " as the wind blows" lately for me.

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LIBBYL1 1/8/2013 10:42PM

  Lines in the sand - a wonderful concept. Getting to yoga twice a week is mine. I need it for strength and for getting through the week. Great that you are volunteering on tax!

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RUN4FOOD 1/8/2013 9:34PM

    I like how you have your day planned.
I guess I call my lines in the sand my focus areas.
I stick very close to my planned next step in each focus area.
If something does get in the way it's usually only one time. I either make it up or forget about it and move on to the next day's focus areas.

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DIANE7786 1/8/2013 9:23PM

    I love the line in the sand idea. Thanks for sharing.

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DALID414 1/8/2013 9:11PM

    Wow, I can't say I've ever put them in writing. My eating plan is in concrete too!

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ONEKIDSMOM 1/8/2013 9:06PM

    Good job finding yours. Mine are my walking breaks at work, no matter what. And this year, my big hairy marathon training plan. No matter if I feel sluggish... get the minutes in!

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HEALTHIERKEN 1/8/2013 8:48PM

    Lines in the sand? hmmm . . . .
Start every day with scripture reading and informed commentary by reputable writers, prayer and quiet time if not actual meditation. Been doing this since retirement.
Have coffee every morning. Probably not a good line in the sand for a health-focused guy, but my body *really* likes it : )
Eat breakfast every day. Make it a healthy breakfast except for times when I'm not in control (eg visiting rellies).
What would be very good for me to do would be to have a couple of lines re: exercise and eating. I'm still sporadic about both. When I'm good, I'm very, very good; but when I'm bad---you guessed it--I'm horrid!


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NWFL59 1/8/2013 8:31PM

    Enjoyed this blog very much. I don't have many lines in the sand, actually just one really but I see that if I want to attain my fitness/health goals then I need to establish a couple more. emoticon

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Saturday Long Run

Saturday, January 05, 2013

I got a break from the bad weather. There was no new snow overnight, and it was a balmy 31 F when I went out for my long slow run this morning. The shoulders looked pretty good on my street, so I decided to run a new route with more little hills, going further from home than I have so far this season. The fact that the bad foot felt as good as it has before a long run in several weeks played into this as well.

The shoulders were mostly clear, with patches of loose packed snow. The sidewalks were mostly uncleared. At the first minute, RunKeeper announced my pace as 8:05 per mile. I thought I'd figured out how to start the app right and got the pace down! This turned out to be an illusion; mile 1 clocked in at 7:47.

Over the course of the run, my average pace got faster. By the time I hit mile 6, I gave up on trying to slow to an 8 minute mile and just ran at whatever was easy and comfortable. Any noticeable slowdowns in the last 2 miles were from snow underfoot; there was more on the side road late in the route.

The RunKeeper chart and splits:



For reference, there is a 109 foot difference in elevation from the low to high points in the run. My big hill didn't feel so big because this route didn't go down as low before the big hill (run the easier direction). The ups and downs from mile 3 to about mile 6 were the new part of the route, and they weren't as challenging as I expected.

The final numbers were 8.29 miles in 1:03:02, for an average pace of 7:36 per mile. Yeah, that's faster than a long slow run should be. Maybe I'll be better at slowing down when I'm able to do longer runs. Or I might just always have trouble running slow on downhill stretches and slowing down enough after the downhill stretches.

The bad foot complained a bit at 59 minutes, but that was so close to home that I just kept going. It doesn't seem to be complaining very loudly now, but tomorrow will be a better indicator of how much progress I've made on that front. If tomorrow is as much improved over last Sunday as today seems to be over last Saturday, next week I'll stretch the long run to 9 miles.

I'm very close to putting money down to enter the Flower City Challenge Half Marathon on April 28. I have two weeks before the entry fee goes from $50 to $55; if the foot improves as much as I hope, I'll put down the cash at the cheaper rate.

Scheduling for training between now and April 28 will be challenging, but sometimes you just have to try to get things done. This might be one of those times.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ON2VICTORY 1/8/2013 11:31AM

    dude, your pace is amazing, even in the snow. I think that needs to sink in, you are a far better runner than you give yourself credit for. my prediction is that if you will properly pace yourself, you will DOMINATE your first half.

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BLITZEN40 1/8/2013 12:03AM

    Amazing pace especially in the snow! Way to go!

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MEXGAL1 1/6/2013 10:03AM

    Keep up the good work!

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RUN4FOOD 1/6/2013 7:56AM

    Sounds like another great run. All of us wish we could run you pace for 9 miles, or even 1 mile.
Keep up the good work.

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KRISZTA11 1/6/2013 6:19AM

    Sounds like a lovely run.
I'm so glad your bad foot is doing well and you can do regular long runs now!
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ALLISON145 1/6/2013 12:29AM

    Your slow pace is my incredible.. strike that, impossible pace. LOL! Nice to be tall in that regard, eh? :)

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HEALTHIERKEN 1/5/2013 11:03PM

    So great that you can plan for a HM this spring, Kevin.
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RG_DFW 1/5/2013 9:48PM

    emoticon

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HANSBRINK 1/5/2013 9:43PM

  Good ol' LSD (long slow distance).
Congrats on doing it in the snow.

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MSLZZY 1/5/2013 8:48PM

    I admire your "slow" pace. I think I'll wait awhile
before I dare you to a race LOL!

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ONEKIDSMOM 1/5/2013 7:54PM

    Got my fingers crossed for you, bro! I did my long-slow today, too... and outside, which is NOT the norm for me, especially when the footing is spotty, which it was. Did 11.81 miles in a whole lot longer than you... 2 hours and 30 minutes. For almost as slow a pace as the Jeff Galloway folks want me to run it. But mainly hampered by the footing.

Feeling good about this as a starting point to the build up for May.

Good luck with your crazy schedule training for April. emoticon emoticon

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Morning Run on a Busy Thursday

Thursday, January 03, 2013

It's Thursday, a work at home day. It's also a long day, because I have training for my volunteer job in the evening. The original plan was to squeeze in a run at lunch.

Well, it's winter in Rochester, NY. Yesterday evening I lost my planned weight lifting session to clearing snow from the driveway. The forecast for today was more snow starting about noon. So I planned to forego my steel cut oats this morning in favor of quick cooking oatmeal, and use the time to clear the driveway.

The driveway didn't need clearing in the morning. The temperature was 16F (-9C), and the Weather Channel claimed it was calm. But the wind was forecast to increase through the day.

So I went out and ran before working at home. Covered 4.32 miles in 31:20, for an average pace of 7:15 per mile. That's a little slower than a normal run of that distance, but there was snow and slush on the shoulders. It's a good time for the conditions. And there was a bit of a south wind, but all in all it was a pleasant winter morning's run.

Got home, stretched, started working. Broke for lunch, and didn't need the run. So I cleared the driveway (which needed it by then), ate, and started this blog.

My first year of Sparking, I was blessed with a mild winter. That let me learn to run in the cold weather without being distracted by bad footing. This year, we have a more normal winter. The temperature isn't a big deal, because I figured that part out a year ago. Now I'm learning to deal with a normal level of snow for being downwind of Lake Ontario. This can be done.

Now, back to work before the full evening. At least my 10K steps for the day are secure.

Life is good.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ON2VICTORY 1/4/2013 1:23PM

    I kinda forgot how much snow Rochester can get... ahhhh the memories :S

The snowblower...survival tool #1.

great job on the run.... you are a machine bud!

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MEXGAL1 1/4/2013 9:52AM

    I'd say a good day.....have a terrific Friday!

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MSLZZY 1/4/2013 7:26AM

    emoticon

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DALID414 1/3/2013 10:15PM

    Did you get the shoes you ordered yet?

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RUN4FOOD 1/3/2013 10:00PM

    Great day.

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RG_DFW 1/3/2013 6:42PM

    emoticon

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LOSE2BECOMEMORE 1/3/2013 1:43PM

    Life truly is good!!!!

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