Saturday, November 18, 2006


I had said earlier this week that I wanted to get outside on Saturday to do a "long" run, reminiscent of all the past Saturdays when Saturday was a day for meeting up with running buddies to run anywhere from 1-2 hours. For me, long at this point, if I'm lucky, is 3 miles. My plan, then, was to head out to do my 3.2 mile route, figuring it might take me 40-45 minutes, based on my last treadmill workout of 2.8 miles in 36 minutes.

I still am not running the whole time, but am gradually building on running increments. When I started on November 3, I was doing 1.5 minute run intervals with 1.5 minute walk intervals. In a 30 minute time span, that meant 12 minutes of nonconsecutive running. But I got it done.

Today, after seeing the weather was cooperative, I started dressing while it was still dark and headed out down the street at 7:40. It was gradually getting lighter. It was pretty cold, in the low 30s, but there was no wind, so it felt pleasant enough.

As I started out with a 5 minute warmup walk, I noticed my steps were quicker than when I first started walking after the accident, when there was a marked clump to my steps as I limped along. Today, I was moving briskly.

I was surprised at how many houses still had remnants of Halloween decorations adorning their steps or yards: rotting pumpkins with gaping holes where the faces used to be; plastic witches, ghosts, and pumpkins hanging from trees or porch railings; and several pumpkin-faced leaf bags still smiling at you from their yards. I wasn't sure which was worse, this or the houses that already sported Christmas lights and decorations, which showed up the weekend after Halloween.

I also noted all the "for sale" signs on the lawns. Most of these houses had been for sale for months, with no signs of a new buyer any time soon. My area is a rather unique area, about a 5-mile square area, in which is contained any imaginable service you might need to get along in life--grocery stores, pharmacies, churches, schools, a library, small businesses, restaurants, pizza places, video stores, farmer's market, etc., and all within 3-5 miles from major shopping centers, movie complexes, and sporting arenas. We have everything. Its an old neighborhood with a "new" concept they keep trying to adapt around here in newer developments, and it has been this way for years.

With the realty signs, there blows in a new wind of change, and the typical "white flight" is becoming more apparent. The area is a diverse mixture of all colors, religions, and political affiliations, and the white flight is due to aging, and not fear. Its a nice area, and people stay a long time before leaving. (Disclaimer: every neighborhood has its share of jackasses, and unfortunately one of those lives next to me.)

With my walk warmup over, I started running. I have no idea of pace when not on a treadmill, but just went by my watch. I decided to try for a 4/2 ratio today, up from the 3/2 the other day, and see what would happen. The cold air bit into my lungs, and I was quite winded by the end of the 4 minutes, but it felt good too. I seemed to be timing it perfectly, since I approached a small hill on my walk interval as well as a busy street, so never had to break from my running.

The second run interval took me down another neighborhood street with houses flying the flags of their favorite teams, with a reminder of the Michigan/Ohio State game playing later today (GO BLUE! Rest in peace Bo Schembechler.) The Michigan flags outnumbered any Ohio State flags, naturally.

It was a very peaceful morning. Instead of the rain/show mixture they predicted, there was no wind, and the clouds were breaking here and there to show telltale signs of that big orb in the sky which we always forget about in November. I was cold during my second walk interval, and I noticed my fingertips were numb, as much a sign of the cold as probably lack of oxygen. It really is a test to run outside as compared with the treadmill. The terrain and temperature put your body through motions you can't on the treadmill. But, sometimes convenience is better than doing nothing.

I was reminded last night by Donald about a race he was running today, One Hill of a Run, and I told him I would stop by and watch some of the race. He said I could go along and walk, but I knew the route and knew I didn't want to run or walk on that hilly course!

As I was approaching the halfway point in my old familiar course, which really hasn't been that familiar to me lately, I took another look at my watch to see how I was doing. In the past, I would reach the halfway point anywhere from 14-17 minutes. I was under 20 still, and that included the first 5 minutes of walking, so I really didn't think I was doing that bad. The rest of the course was up and down short, not very steep, hills or flats.

By the time I reached 30 minutes, I was really feeling the effort. I wasn't worn out, but was getting tired, and I could tell I was getting a little stiff on my walking intervals, since my pace didn't feel quite as brisk as when I first started. I looked down at my tights and could see a layer of frost where sweat had escaped, since frost forms after the sun comes up but before the sun burns off the cold air. It was that time of the day all right. My hands were warm enough now, but my toes were also a little numb, again from the cold and the cold pavement. I have to wear some thicker socks from now on, that's for sure.

I was glad to be getting done. I surprised myself at not taking 40+ minutes to do this route, and even though I only ran 1.5 minutes in my last run interval, I still finished in: 37:30. Woo hoo! I might actually be able to do a 5k soon in 35 or less.

I got home just in time to take my broccoli quiche out of the oven. Perfect timing! And the afterglow of a run is always nice to see in the mirror.

I quickly got showered and dressed so I could go watch Don finish his race, not knowing until I got there (after not eating breakfast OR brushing my teeth to get there on time!) that there was a 5k and a 10k, not run simultaneously, but one hour apart, so runners could potentially do both races, which is what he opted to do. He had already finished the 5k in 24 something and was waiting around for the 10k to start. It was a small crowd for the 10k, mostly seasoned, die-hard runners (meaning old guys!), so I waited until they started and then headed on my way. This route, as I mentioned, is VERY hilly. All hills, in fact. The only "flat" part is still somewhat downhill and then that's the end of the easy part. I've done this in the past, and I can tell you, in the winter you can barely get up some of these things without slipping and sliding. They got pretty lucky to have such a nice day. (Note: he just called to tell me he ran 53 something. Not bad for an old guy running 15k in 77 min. and getting 3 medals out of the deal too--huge ones at that: one for the 5k, one for the 10k, and one for both. And he probably placed in both races.)

I don't know what's in store for me the rest of the weekend, other than working and making up time from earlier this week. (I foresee having to do that for the next 6-8 months, until my dad is off the chemo. Its either that or use up all my vacation time, which I don't want to do.) I really want to get in the pool and try to get a decent swim in, but mentally its becoming harder and harder to do, because I always have a day or two of major discomfort in my shoulder, neck, and back. On the other hand, maybe if I just swim, I will be okay.

In the meantime, I need to get some work done and get home to watch the game!

1 comment:

Flo said...

Nice run. It must feel really great to be back outside again. That's really incredible progress.

That was a great game wasn't it?? Too bad Michigan didn't win, but what a game!!