Sometimes it’s just about going the distance

I’ll save bandwidth for the nice people here at WordPress and simply give you a link if you’re interested in seeing the map/elevation/splits for tonight’s run.
The Stats:
Distance: 6.01 miles
Duration: 1h:16m:27s
Avg. Speed: 12:43 min/mile
Calories: 896 kcal (Again – ROBBED.  It’s the heat and the humidity people!)

As I run along I have this monologue that plays in my head.  I thought I would try to recapture some of it and share with you here.  You’ll thank me.

On Playlist Choices:
If you have adult life experience memories from the year a particular artist was born, you probably have no business using their music to set your running pace.
On the other hand, if you have high school sweetheart memories associated with a particular artist, their stuff is probably exactly what you need to be running to.
There’s no walking when Boom Boom Pow comes up on your playlist. The BEPs don’t play that.  (I call them “The BEPs” because we’re tight like that me and them.)
I don’t care how much you love any song off of David Bowie’s 1983 hit machine album Let’s Dance accidentally having them duplicated on your playlist makes them annoying.

On Running/Biking Trail Etiquette:
Dear Cyclists,
Two phrases: “On your left!” or “Behind you!” Pick one.  Familiarize yourself with it.  Practice it while you’re putting on those funky, colorful bodysuits, and USE THEM WHEN COMING UP BEHIND A RUNNER!!
Sincerely,
Pricing Tiny Little Stop-Sticks in Memphis

Dear Fellow Trail Users:
If you are fit enough to carry the Gu Packet in with you, open it up and suck out its contents, I’m pretty sure you have the strength to carry the empty packet out.
Sincerely,
You are an embarrassment to us all.

Dear People Who Live Along the Trail:
Do you have to fire up your grills and make food smells while people are running?!
Have you no decency?  No compassion?
Sincerely,
You’re just mean

On The Run Itself:
Is that a twinge?   No.  No, that’s just tightness.  Tightness is okay.  I can work through tightness.

WTW?!  Where did that cyclist come from?!  Dude!  Bell.  Get one!

Feelin’ pretty good now.  Wait.  Slow down!  You will pay for this if you don’t!

Later That Same Run: I told you to slow down back there!

Gotta get-get, gotta get-get
Gotta get-get, gotta g-g-g-get-get-get, get-get
That’s right!  I’m running with The BEPs!  It’s me and Fergie and Will-I-Am and . . .  Yeah me and them!  Let’s get that Boom Boom Pow!

I need to walk for a minute.  No.  Wait. I can totally pass those walkers up there first.  Okay, cool.
Passing the walkers…  Gotta look cool and Runnery and strong.
Keep it going, here we go . . . Have they no manners?!  Don’t they know The Rule: Slower movers to the right?  Yo!  Two abreast at most not six!  *sighs*
Okay got around them.  I need to walk a min . . .  No.  No.  I’m not going to pass walkers and then start walking.  Just keep running.
Got it.

How many times has the smiling-a-little-too-much dude on the bike turned around and passed and re-passed me?  This is suspicious.  What if he’s a serial killer?  HCRP is miles ahead of me and won’t know anything has happened until he gets back to the car and I’m not there.  Crap.  I could call him.  No, wait, that’s stupid.  Back-and-Forth Guy is probably lost and can’t remember which end of the Greenline he started at.  Yeah, that’s it.  There he is again.  Hmmm…  Okay here’s The Plan: IF Back-and-Forth Guy turns out to be a serial killer and forces me off the trail I’ll drop my sweat towel HCRP will totally see that and know something is amiss.  I can keep my Endomondo program running on my phone until we stop then quick end the program and it will upload and they’ll know exactly where I am.  See?  This is why I never miss an episode of Criminal Minds.  I would totally make a great FBI Profiler.

Who moved the mile markers?!  I would have sworn that 2.5 miles was just past this overpass.  It was here the last time I ran this far.  Maybe that’s why Back-and-Forth Guy keeps doing his back and forth thing.  He’s moving the dang mile markers!  Jerk!

There it is.  There’s the twinge.  Time to walk.  Dammit!
Great, I said a cuss.  I can’t blog a cuss.  If my mother is secretly reading my blog she’ll be so mad at me.
Okay.  We’re walking, we’re walking. We’re stopping to stretch.
Remember Julianne, it isn’t about the time it’s about finishing the distance.
Right?
Right.

Ya’ know what?  I am totally gonna be able to do this half-marathon in September!
And that 10K next month.  No matter how hot it is.  Or how many hills there are.
Wait.  Terri Lee says Mutherhill and Jr. Mutherhill are on that course.  Crap.  I’m gonna die.  The Mutherhills are gonna kill me.
Okay if I keep adding a mile every week between now and then by June 23rd I’ll be up to . . Wait what’s today?  The 19th?  The 20th?  Where’s a calendar when I need one?  When did figuring dates become like math?

Okay, I need to walk now.  No.  Wait.  Dangit!  There’s that wad of teenagers I am totally not going to be walking when I get to them.  I was running when I passed them going one way, I will not be the ‘old fat lady’ who had to stop running and walk.  Run past them.  Correction: Run around them since they clearly didn’t get the “Don’t Walk Six Abreast With Three Dogs” Memo!  *GAH*  Kids!
Okay, got around them.  Run a little further.  Good.  Good.  It’s cool to walk now. 

There’s the 0.0 mile marker we are Home Free now baybee! Just hush and keep running.  Finish.  Running.  Always finish running.

And so it goes inside my brain while I run.
It’s no wonder HCRP decided to reduce his time and run ahead of me.  He’s been treated to all of this leaking down through my sinuses from my brain into my mouth and out past my lips more than a few times.
Don’tcha wanna run with me?!

The truth is I went into this run filled with more than a little nervousness since the last time I ran six miles was The Last Time I Ran for two months.
I kept telling myself that it’s different this time.
I have fully rehabbed my injury (Runner’s Knee if this is your first time stumbling across me).
I have trained gradually and am pacing myself.
I’m not running for the first time in brand new, different brand/type shoes.
I even have on new, better socks!
And at The End of The Run it wasn’t The End of Me Running and I did six miles that I finished running rather than limping or sitting at a corner waiting for HCRP to come back with the car to pick me up.
Yes, there was a mile in there that I walked almost all of (mile 5 at a nearly 16:00 minute/mile pace).  And as much as I had wanted to come in at about four minutes less than I did, I kept telling myself that (for now) it isn’t about time – it’s about ever increasing distance and finishing running, vertical, and wanting to do it again!
And I did all of those things.
I really needed this! 

That worked out quite nicely

We did not run at 5 am.
I have decided that my genuine dislike for running in the pre-dawn dark far outweighs any dislike of running in heat.  And this time of year in this part of the country that’s what it comes down to.  A choice between darkness and relative cool or daylight and heat.
I choose heat and light.  
Besides, all that sweat streaming out of every pore has to be good for the body on several levels.

Which isn’t to say that the transition from running in the pre-dawn cool(ish) temperatures to the after work everything-but-cool(ish) ones is an easy transition to make.
There are lessons to be learned.
Things to be taken into account.
And in no particular order those things are:

  1. Wardrobe.  Not just light weight, but light colored.  The magenta tech shirt I was wearing today was, I swear to you, seeking out rays of sunlight to absorb!
  2. Hydration.  This is a three-fold consideration and I made mistakes at every fold.
    Fold One – Pre-Hydration:was sucking down fluids all afternoon to insure that I went into the run fully hydrated. Good for me!  However, rather than focusing on plain water I drank Crystal Light Pure (zero artificial sweeteners and tastes like grape Kool-Aid).  The problem with this was that it gave me a false sense of feeling ‘full’ that carried right straight through to my run time.
    Fold Two – During-Hydration: I had my water belt and both 10 oz bottles were filled with water.  Room temperature tap water.  Having it starting out a tad on the cooler-than-room-temp side would have been nice.
    Fold Three – Post-Hydration: It would have been very beneficial to have had some chilled Gatorade for after the run.

This was also my first ever experience doing a trail run and I have to say I really enjoyed it and will definitely be keeping this particular hilly trail as part of our conditioning runs on Mondays, Wednesdays, and/or Thursdays.
So far I like the ‘softer landing’ of the dirt and loose gravel.
I think having to be mindful of how and where my feet are landing is also helping me to keep my tendency to run like a duck (heels in – toes out) under control and land my feet pointed more straight forward.  From what I’ve read keeping one’s feet straight goes a long way towards helping with the tracking of the patella and reducing strain on the patellar tendon.
Having to be mindful of footfall and terrain also keeps me at the more Ye Olde Knee Friendly 12:00 min/mile pace that works best for me.
I also think the unpaved trail went a long way towards ratcheting YOK’s noise making down from The Scream to merely voicing a few complaints in a clearly audible voice.  That yes, I listened to.
And there’s just something that feels so much more Runner-y about running off the beaten, sidewalked, streeted path.

The only real downsides are:
Pebbles in socks/shoes.
Dust in . . . well dust just everywhere.
No real shade to speak of – at least on this trail.
And here where we are there are a somewhat limited number of off-road trails for running. But I’ve only just begun to do this so I have miles to go before I start getting anything close to ‘bored’.

Oh, and that “Just run for the fun of it” thing I was planning on?  That was in there too.  In between the “I should have thought of this before!” moments I really enjoyed running the trail just for the running of it.

Tonight’s Stats:
Distance: 3.24 miles
Duration: 41m:12s
Avg Speed: 12:44 min/mi
Calories: 482 kcal (I was robbed – it was hotter than 482 kcal)
I’ll take that and run with it.  More importantly – I’ll continue running with it. 

She said: Don’t give up

Okay, she didn’t “say” it, she wrote it.
More accurately, she blogged it.
Don’t give up written by my second favorite Running Blogger in the entire Blogosphere.

Go ahead.
Read her post.
You’ll thank me.
I’ll wait right here ’til you get back.

See?
I told you so.
You’re welcome. 

I needed to read what she wrote about keeping some piece of running.
I needed to read what she wrote about achieving a running goal.
I needed to read what she wrote about giving ourselves time and space.
I needed to read “DON’T GIVE UP” and “but don’t quit”.

I needed to read these words because after Sunday’s five mile run – out of town where there was every reason not to run that I didn’t use any of – my knee was screaming. Not the sharp, shooting, debilitating scream I’ve heard before (The Scream that is my deepest fear at the start of every run) but screaming nonetheless.

Monday the knee was still stiff and whiny and the thighs were whimpering in sympathy. For the record: Sitting in a bucket-seated vehicle for seven hours after a five mile run isn’t necessarily the best post-run plan.

Tuesday was supposed to be a run day. Monday night I couldn’t sleep. Tuesday the knee was still stiff and the thighs were only speaking to me in angry, sore-muscle tones.  Tuesday there was no running.  I pretended not to care.  I pretended I wasn’t relieved that I wasn’t going to have to worry about feeling The Scream.

And this morning I woke up thinking “Maybe running really isn’t your thing. Maybe you are ‘too old’ to have started this. Maybe it’s time to just go back to walking and forget about half-marathons and PRs and all the rest of it.” and I re-set my alarm and slept past The Time For Running. But in my head I was ticking through the weeks between now and September 15th – My Second First Half Marathon – figuring the smallest increments of distance I can add week to week and still be up to twelve miles by August 25th in time to get at least two runs in at that distance and still have a taper week before The Half.

Then I read these words: “I wanted 2011 to be the year I ran. No goals, just run.” and I flashed back to last summer when I started this whole crazy “I’m going to become a runner” adventure.
I didn’t set out to run a Half.
I didn’t set out to PR anything.
I just wanted to run. And enjoy running.
I didn’t care if “all” I ran in a given interval was one minute or one hundred minutes.
I wanted to, as Terri Lee so simply and eloquently put it, “just run”.
That was it.

Which is precisely what I intend to do tomorrow.
Just run.
At my comfortable, workable, enjoyable pace.
And I’ll walk when I need to walk to recover my breath and recenter my intention.
No pressure.
No guilt.
No worries about whether or how long it takes to finish that Half in September.
Just run.
Run until I hit that sweet spot. And then run a little further in it.

And my knee?
It’ll be just fine.
Like the run.

Wanted and Got

WordPress has decided you don’t get to see a picture of tonight’s run.
I have decided that you can click on this link and see it.

Stats:
Distance: 2.98 miles

Duration: 35m:46s
Avg Speed: 12:00 min/mi
Mile 1 – 11:27 min/mi
Mile 2 – 12:33 min/mi
Mile 3 – 11:48 min/mi
Calories: 454 kcal

Maintaining a consistent pace was the goal.  I achieved that.
Finishing the run without placing undue strain on Ye Olde Knee was important.  I did that.
It’s a fairly hilly course, and with the exception of one very steep, short hill that followed one very long, gradual hill I ran the ascent of every hill and did my walk intervals on the flats.  I ended up doing one more walk interval than I had intended because I developed a pretty hard stitch in my right lower back.  I wasn’t paying attention to my breathing.

There are a million little things to think about when you’re training for a particular purpose in running and not just running.
My purpose is to finish a half-marathon in September.  To do this I have to learn to hold a consistent pace.  I have to learn to know when to push and when to slow down for a recovery walk.
My goal is to get to the point that I don’t need a recovery walk but every three miles.  Right now I’m good for about a mile and a half unless I’ve pushed it too hard on a hill.  Then it’s closer to the one mile mark.
But I’m getting there.
After all, this time last year – I couldn’t run five minutes without gasping and gagging.  And probably not even that unless someone was chasing me!
Just look at me now!

I need to run. I WANT to run.

 I also need sleep.
Good, deep, undisrupted, restful sleep.
Last night is the first time in a good week I’ve had sleep like that.

We’ve been dealing with air conditioning issues off and on for several weeks now. I can not sleep in a warm/hot room.

Yes, I know, I’m spoiled. As a child I grew up in houses without air conditioning and slept just fine. I wasn’t a middle-aged, post-menopausal woman as a child. Really, I wasn’t. No matter how it may have seemed to my parents at times.
Aaaanyway . . .
So it’s been well over a week since I had a decent, full night’s sleep. I can go a couple nights with shortened or disrupted sleep, and generally after a couple nights my body forcibly asserts its right to a good night’s sleep. Thanks to a perfect storm of circumstances it’s been a good ten days without that opportunity presenting itself.
Last night I was done.
I went to bed at 8:30 and was out cold by 9 and don’t even remember HCRP coming to bed.
I had set my alarm for 4:20 am (my wake-up time on 5 am run days) and was looking forward to getting in three miles first thing this morning. When that alarm went off there was no way I was going to be up and moving. Have you ever been so exhausted and slept so hard that you woke up stiff and sore and still needing more sleep? Yeah. That was me at 4:20.
And I really, really wanted to run.
I also really, really want to continue running for a very long time to come; so after weighing the pros and cons of going ahead and running this morning or running this evening, I opted for this evening.

And we will run.
Because I really want to!
Just not without a good night’s sleep.

The single most concise, beautiful explanation of Why I Love Running I’ve come across to date.

That I am graced to have the author in my actual, real world life as someone I call “friend” is just the icing on the cake. Or maybe the ice on the slightly twinging knee. Either way, This is just beautiful and SO worth the read.
Thank you Terri Lee!

Run. Dog. Cat. Cat. Me.

I got home from Arizona last week on Tuesday night and Wednesday I had all the energy of a

Wait, I’m trying to think of something with little enough energy to make a fitting comparison.  Any suggestions?

Here are some of the things I came up with:  Limp noodle (waaaay overdone) dead moth (kinda weird but I only thought of it because Chunker just killed one and it’s pretty inert) Murphy on my side of the bed when I want to go to sleep (self explanatory) caffeine free morning (oh, Terri Lee, come on – at least use a comparison that’s humanly possible).

Well that’s how much energy I had, anyway.  Thursday I felt slightly more alive since I slept past 7:30.  By the time I was ready to get a run it was 9:45 and it was pretty warm and humid; while I was out of town Memphis went and decided…

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Let’s just call it LessonS Learned

I sat here earlier today, icing my knee, and wrote an absolutely beautiful, funny, (dare I say?) epic post about this morning’s four mile run.
There were lessons along each and every mile.
There were lessons about pace.
There were lessons about pain.
There were lessons about the human experience. (Couldn’t make that start with a ‘p’.)
Then, at the very end, there was a lesson about the importance of writing blog post drafts in Wordpad, Notepad, or Word rather than directly in the browser window because one little mis-click and *poof* (which does start with ‘p’) it’s all gone!
*le sigh*
Yes I tried ctrl + z.
Yes I tried my browser’s Back Button.
Yes I tried seeing if it had saved as a “Draft”.
None of the above worked.
Nothing.
Zero.
Zip.
Zilch.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo: Nada!

So.
The RDCV (Reader’s Digest Condensed Version) is this:
Mile 0 – Mile 1: I ran along with HCRP (there’s no wikipedia page for him – he’s my little secret) and kept up!
Pace for Mile One: 10:44 min/mile

Mile 1 – Mile 2: I continued on my own after walking a couple dozen feet just after crossing the one mile mark. I made it to 1.5 miles, walked a few feet then continued to the 2 mile mark which was my turn-around point.
Pace for Mile Two: 11:11 min/mile

Mile 2 – Mile 3: I slowed to a walk, took a couple sips of water, and started back running. I got about a quarter of a mile when I felt It.
“It” being a major league, tears-in-your-eyes, panic-inducing twinge in Ye Olde Knee.
I slowed way down to a near crawl-paced walk, stopped to stretch, walked a bit further, resisted the urge to panic and text HCRP and say “I’m never gong to run again!” and as I went along tried to figure out exactly where the wheels fell off my run.
And then.
It hit me.
I hit the two mile mark at 21 minutes 54 seconds (I knew this because the nice Endomondo Lady told me so when I got there). Some quick math told me this was an average 11 minute mile with fairly little walking.
This.
Was.
Too.
Fast!
Entirely too fast a pace – which meant my feet were landing hard on that pavement – for my third week back running in two months.
Well Shazam Andy!
It is a previously proven fact that a twelve minute mile with built-in recovery walking intervals is a good, reasonable, doable pace for me to run a sustained distance. I have run as much as ten miles at that pace and with walking intervals.

We have identified The Problem.
We have identified The Solution.
We have identfied The ‘Nother Problem.
What’s a twelve minute per mile pace and how do I know when I’m running it?
I am great at following another person’s pace. I can – and will – follow it until I just can’t follow any longer. (Yes, I realize the pathology and recognize it as a lifelong pattern having nothing to do with running. Hush. That’s a whole ‘nother blog for a whole ‘nother day.)

So there I was, nearing the end of Mile Three and I hear coming up behind me this faster than a walk but not really a run sounding pace. Since I was schlumping along at a slow walk (and grateful that I was no longer semi-limping or feeling pain) it wasn’t long before I was passed and in that slow flash I saw My Pace moving away from me along the path.
Pace for Mile Three: 16m:27s
Endomondo put a turtle on this leg of my run. But I disagree with this assessment.  I would say this was the mile I got the most out of.

Mile 3 – Mile 4: Since My Pace had overtaken me right at the beginning of Mile 4 I had a good quarter mile to study it and ingrain it in my head. At the 3.25 mile point Ye Olde Knee was showing no signs of pain, and before it was too far ahead of me I wanted to try out my newfound pace.
And.
It worked!
I jog/ran the second quarter mile of Mile 4, walked the third 1/4, and finished running the last 1/4.
Pace for Mile Four: 14m:54s 

I stretched, waited for HCRP to finish his six miles and cool down then it was home to shower, put on fresh duds, and ice Ye Olde Knee.

And put together a playlist for my ipod that will keep me at that 12:00 minute per mile pace.

Today’s Stats:
Distance: 4.07 miles
Duration: 54m:07s
Avg. Speed: 13:17 min/mile
Calories: 596 kcal (I was robbed!)