This has been a rather intense week when it has come to my running. Granted, it was basically an “easier” week for the weekday runs, but the weekend was calling for a 16 miler. Okay…I’ve done 18 miles already…in intense heat and humidity. And that…well…it sucked. It sucked mightily. So, 16 miles wasn’t daunting at all. Not really. And I have a great group of people to run it with. And I was promised a new route. So…that was exciting.
But…simply put…I was tired. The previous week wore me out, basically thanks to Maroon 5 and their show up in Indianapolis last Saturday night. I missed out on quite a few precious hours of sleep…still hauled myself out of bed and went out for a run on Sunday morning. Because Sunday morning runs are one of my “me” times. I don’t go out with any set pace or path…I just go. And when I’m done…I’m done.
This week was a good one for running, but I think my body is still trying to catch up on rest…and I haven’t had a moment to allow it that luxury. I have, however, enjoyed a few wonderful moments this week…all centered on running. Not my training…not really…but the physical runs. The people I’m with…the things I saw…the experiences this week were what really made everything feel…just right.
And…I can finally pump my fist in the air because I have treated myself to a new pair of running shoes. I tried on a pair of these at one of my fun runs on Monday night back in March (I think)…when Adidas was visiting the store. I had one of the best runs ever on a Monday night…and just fell in love with them. With a gift certificate to Blue Mile and some store credit…I finally decided it was time to treat myself to some shoes I wanted. So, yesterday…I brought home a pair of Adidas Boost running shoes and a new pair of socks made by Injinji…they are toe socks…and should help with any blistering issues. I also bought some Watermelon Nuun…but that’s not as exciting.
So…how do I break in new shoes? On a Saturday 16 miler, of course…in the rain! They really don’t look new anymore. Already. On the first outing. Welcome to the life of a runner! Let’s take a look at the week, shall we?
Sunday, as always, is either an easy run day or another day of rest. I don’t do well with run days, so I usually take this opportunity to rock out a couple of miles. No set path or direction or distance in mind. I just run and go where my feet take me, however long they feel like being out there, and on whatever route they choose. Sunday is “me” time…as I get up early and get out there, trying to beat the heat of the day…the torturous sun…and all that jazz. This Sunday…however…I decided to match my Saturday mileage. My legs were feeling good, even after going 13 miles on Saturday with Laura. So, when I headed out…I only had one goal…and that was to hit some hills. I ended up running to the local campus and running the parking lots, which are hilly in their own right. Then…I hit the hills around town…through the community park, and out towards the main drag. I actually clocked a half marathon (exactly 13.1 miles) when I wound up back at my apartment complex and paused my Garmin. And it was in 1:44:51…which means I was almost matching the pace of my best half marathon. I was just 4 minutes off. So, I was really having a fantastic morning run. I didn’t feel tired after it either. Just went inside, hopped in a nice cool shower, then got my roommate up because I was craving gluten-free pancakes. So, we went out to North End Café where I enjoyed one gluten-free pancake with a side of fruit. It was just what I needed and wanted. Shopping followed…and then a sweet treat. That’s how I roll on Sunday!
Monday…the runs in the dark return with a vengeance. Earlier than my weekend morning wake-up calls. Sometimes it just seems hard to get out of bed. But not this Monday. Not really. My training plan was scaling down in the week as far as my mileage, allowing me to physically get prepared for my longer run on Saturday, I believe. The weather that morning was ideal. Just beautiful. Not humid. A slight breeze. I was loving it. The training plan called for 4 miles…so I didn’t bother to pack something for fuel…I wouldn’t be out long enough to require it or to even necessitate practicing my fueling technique. Then…I ended up going 5 miles because it just felt good. I did all of this with fantastic negative splits. By now you all know that Monday is also the weekly Daily Double…so that evening after work and a quick bite at home, I headed over to Louisville to hit the road with my fun run group. We hadn’t run the scenic loop in Cherokee Park for awhile, so we chose to do that…but backwards. There are parts of running the loop that I love to do backwards…but the worst part is right at the end…going up toward Hogan’s Fountain…on this windy, gradual-yet-still-steep climb. I was with the group at the beginning, but somehow ended up ahead…and remained there for the rest of the run. In fact, I got back to the store long before others. I hate when that happens…because I do love running with my group…but it was how it worked. Natalie, one of the runners I run with often on Monday, supplied the group with fresh watermelon. And it was DELICIOUS. Watermelon is something I crave a lot these days after I run. So this…was fantastic to return to the store and indulge in.
Tuesday is not a running day, but it still brings an early morning. Tuesday is my cross training day. And my cross training all takes place at the gym. And in order to fit in a gym workout without making excuses not to go…I go early. Really early. Much to Cathy’s chagrin. She is not a morning person, but she does rise and shine at least twice a week to hit up the gym. Tuesday we leave the apartment by 6:15 at the latest and get to the gym by 6:30 a.m. This Tuesday’s cross training routine was done on two different machines. The first one is the Arc Trainer, which is sort of an advanced and more difficult version of an elliptical machine. I set it for Program 3 – Hill Intervals – Level 5 and then hit it. I managed 2.68 miles in 45 minutes with the changing resistance, incline, and the intervals that it threw at me. I was feeling awesome about that. And then, the second machine was a 10 minute workout on the stationary bike. I HATE the stationary bike. I think for reasons I hate the treadmill. I just don’t like putting so much effort forward and not be going anywhere. UGH! So, these 10 minutes always feel like torture. I change the resistance after every minute and just gave it whatever I had left in the tank. And in 10 minutes, I did manage 3.91 miles. Then it was downstairs to get some strength training in. Later that night…20 minutes of yoga to stretch everything out. I needed it because…
Wednesday morning rolled around. And by now, we all know that Wednesday means it’s pacing/speed work day. This week it was asking me for 6 miles with negative splits. I wasn’t sure this was actually going to happen. I told my roommate this the night before, as I looked at the weather and saw how steamy and humid it was going to be that morning. Well, The Weather Channel wasn’t lying. That morning was heavy, wet air…and I felt like I was just running in MUCK. Honestly. It just made the act of running feel that much more difficult. Somehow, and I still am not sure how, I managed to nail the negative splits that were requested in the training plan. I still don’t know how I managed…but I did. That evening, after work, it was 20 minutes of circuit training, which really kicked my ass.
Thursday morning it was back to running easy. And I was glad for that. I was feeling “the shred” of the circuit training the day before. And it was still humid as MUCK out on Thursday morning. It might even have been muckier than it was on Wednesday morning. In fact, I can honestly say I do believe it really was. This morning called for an easy 5 miles, similar to that on Monday. So, I ran my usual path…then decided…why not throw in a couple of hills. So, I altered my route and went out on the one I used to run before strange men kept jumping out at me and scaring me. I had my mace with me…so I felt I could manage this. It meant no gorgeous negative splits…but the change was what I needed, honestly. Thursday also took me back to the gym, where I did 9.16 miles on the elliptical in 45 minutes and then kicked out 3.69 miles on the Cardio Wave machine. I love doing this machine because it manages to work my legs from side-to-side instead of the usual front-to-back motion. A few strength machines followed. Then, after work…it was back to the circuit training for the second day that week. Let me tell you…I almost talked myself out of doing it. I told my roommate we could either do it that night…or Friday. She said she didn’t care…so I finally figured that if we didn’t do it Thursday, we wouldn’t hit that second day of it for the week…because Friday we are always busy. So, I said we’d just do it…and we did. It was painful…but we did it. And I’m proud of us for doing so.
It was a good call because along came Friday. Friday is the evil but blessed rest day. The one day that I literally am not to do anything. I do my best to respect this day and keep it holy. I mean…it’s once a week, yes? Yes. The only thing is I do allot myself permission to go for an early morning walk. Just a brisk little walk to take the edge off. Friday usually means a lot of sitting at the office, trying to get accounts closed and the like…so this walk is good for me. And I enjoy it. Honestly. I did 3.02 miles on Friday morning in 34:23, which is actually really, really brisk. But I have short legs and honestly walk fast. It’s just how I am. The brilliant thing about this Friday was…after coming home and eating a delicious gluten-free pizza for dinner…I went over to my running store…and I treated myself to those shoes I was telling you about at the beginning. The Adidas Boost. There was just something about these shoes that I loved…after running in them for 3 miles back in March. I coveted them from afar…wanting them so badly, but not having the money for the $150 price tag they carried. But with a gift certificate, some store credit…and really wanting them…Friday…I finally did it. I just broke down and bought a pair. And they are bright. And with them…I got a pair of Injinji toe socks…because I was mentioning how sometimes I can get blisters and I am totally prone to black toenails. I was told the Injinji socks could certainly help with that. I figured if I was going to break in new shoes on Saturday, I might as well give new socks a try too. Purchased. Done deal. The Adidas Boost shoes were now mine. So..what is so great about the Boosts? It’s all in the design. Adidas’ Web site says that we, as runners, put a lot of energy into our runs, and the Adidas Energy Boost shoes gives some of it back because they are designed with an energy-return boost midsole, which supposedly keeps every step charged with light, fast, energy. Adidas Boost shoes are lightweight (8.5 pounds) and bring flexible upper support to the shoes. Simply put…they feel great and running in them feels great. And now…they were mine. And I couldn’t wait to take them out for a spin. A very, very long spin of 16 miles…Saturday morning.
Saturday means one thing…LONG RUN! I love my long run days. I really do. Getting to run with people. Doing the long slow distance (LSD). Talking…about everything, anything, and just enjoying the company for what can otherwise be a very lonely time out on the roads. I also love these runs because each time I go out with any member of the group who is needing or wanting to do the mileage I am doing…I get shown a new running route. And today…was a beautiful one. 16 challenging miles…but on a route I had never taken before…but had heard stories about. This is what the running group has dubbed the “Better Homes and Gardens” route. And I now understand why. We met up at 6:30 a.m. and Harry was going to take us on the route. There were five of us to start, although Laura was on a step-down week, so she was only doing 10 miles. She figured she’d run out 5 with us, then turn around and come back. We left the store and started into Cherokee Park. Laura and I kept the lead all the way through the park, taking the route Harry had planned toward Seneca Park, where we would wait for the other three (Harry, Carrie, and Linda). We didn’t have to wait long…and we took the opportunity to refill water bottles and get ready for the next 3/4 of the 16 miles we wanted to log. Laura came out to just over 5 miles with us before turning around to head back. From there…the four of us set out for the remainder of the “Better Homes and Gardens” run. First of all…gorgeous neighborhoods!! STUNNING!! And…I even got to see deer!! A mother deer and two fawns. A fourth one was lurking further back. Harry and I were leading…and Linda and Carrie were behind us for most of this adventure. Harry and I would pause at places to allow them to catch up and we’d discuss the next leg of the run…so that we would know where to meet and so on. As Harry and I rounded a corner, we spotted another deer. I had to get a picture!! It was awesome!! Harry snapped a picture on his phone too. And then we continued on, pausing when we hit River Road to wait on the rest of our crew. We never leave runners behind. When the caught up, we ran through a park and then back out onto the road. To make sure we hit mileage, Harry took us up to the Water Tower. It was a beautiful detour. And then we hit the road to head back toward our final destination. Not wanting to hit the hill on Zorn Avenue, we went a different way to The Three Bears. Now, I have heard many runners in the group talk about The Three Bears…but I was finally going to see them for myself. And as Harry and I were first to arrive, he even snapped a picture of me with them. I had to dance with them. Just up the hill was an ivy-covered bunny…so we walked up there while we waited for our running partners…and I got a picture with that as well. From there…it was a short stint on a trail…then back onto the roads and a few turns more before we arrived back at the store. Of course…with about 5 miles left to go, the rain decided it didn’t want to hold off any longer…and so…it started to fall. And it felt great. I mean, I really needed it. The humidity was awful in the morning…so this was nature’s very own air conditioning. I welcomed it. I didn’t have a hat with me though, so I was doing all I could to not get rain in my eyes. It lightened up soon after…and with another opportunity to show me something I normally don’t see…Harry took me up to the reservoir where all of Louisville’s water goes through before heading out into the city. It was AWESOME! From there, he and I made the final dash toward the coffee house where all the other runners who left earlier or even later were meeting and enjoying the Gluten-Free Almond Peach Muffins I baked on Friday night for them. The rain was falling again, but we waited for Linda and Carrie to make it back. The actual run that morning was 17.02 miles…so…once again I went the extra mile. But it was a fun, beautiful run. And I loved the company and the sights I was able to see.
I am already gearing up for next Saturday, which is ushering in what will be my longest run to date. I am totally looking forward to that challenge. Now…I’m going to hit up the foam roller because my calf muscles are definitely reminding me that I road tested new shoes for 16 miles today. Biofreeze might be my friend tonight as well. No matter…I had a hell of a great run today and I’m still smiling from the high I felt while out there on the road…doing what I love…with people who share that same passion for running. Sore calf muscles and all!! Also…I need to carry more bottles with me. My two 6 ounce bottles are definitely not cutting it in the humid, hot weather. Good thing we had water fountains along the way. But my Nuun was gone before I was even halfway through the run today. Electrolytes are my friend as I tend to sweat out salt…so…this will be remedied. Oh yes…yes it will.
It just means I might need to invest in a little more retail therapy…