Saturday, April 11, 2009

The best time to run is before the sun comes up--if you want to avoid the wind. Its almost always windy here every day--not the winds off the prairie type wind but windy nevertheless.
Friday I was off work and decided to switch my weekend training schedule around and do my long run/long swim that day and long bike ride Saturday--outside hopefully and not on the trainer again. Friday was supposed to be "cloudy and windy," pretty much an everyday occurrence here, but the temperature is always key in that combination. If its 85 and humid, wind feels great; if its 35 and cloudy? Not so much. And that's what it was when I started out.
And once again this weekend, I misjudged the wind. Actually, and surprisingly, when I started out at the park, there was no noticeable wind. I was immediately too warm and felt overdressed. But I only unzipped my jacket rather than take it off. After about 20 minutes, off came the gloves and I was rethinking taking off the jacket but really didn't want to have it flapping around my waist. (Somehow, anything flapping--like a jacket or race number--when I'm running drives me nuts.)
Normally, the river path would be well shaded, but being early in the year and no leaves on the trees yet, it was full sun. And I had all black on, just soaking up the rays. Fortunately, I did carry water on my 1 hour 45 min. run.
I haven't been on the path since probably late October or early November, before the cold really set in, when Don and I checked out some of the new bike paths being constructed, because then in December we had some major flooding, which was still evident with the high water. And they don't keep it cleared for winter running, so it had been a while. In some places, the water was still so high up near the path it was almost a little scary. Looking down into the murky brown water I almost expected to see an alligator or crocodile poke its head up and snap at me as I ran along. (we don't have either here--as far as I know!)
Many years ago when this trail system started, one of the nice touches was the addition of a foot bridge across the river to the other side (part of the GR marathon course), shortening any run around the river by a couple of miles. Today, I was pleasantly surprised to see a new bridge going the oppposite way, replacing old and rotting railway bridges that have been part of the scenery for as many years as I can remember. What a nice addition! I have to give props to our fabulous trail system that is getting better each year. While lots of things are bad about this state, the beauty of our state is our best feature. From the Great Lakes and hundreds of miles of beaches to our wonderful trail system, I am pretty thankful for all they offer.
About a mile past the bridges, the closed path ends and opens up into another stretch that is open but privately owned by someone who still holds the mineral rights and has still working oil/gas rigs. You can always smell the gas as you go through here. After this, you exit onto the road near Millenium Park, another fabulous park and trail system, where I was able to see all the new trails constructed since last fall.
I was so engrossed with checking all this out that I almost didn't notice the wind picking up, ever so slightly at first, but by the time I climbed one of the few hills on this course, I was starting to realize that while there had been little to no wind on the way out, there definitely would be some going back. And of course, now that I was sweaty all the way through, I would be running back into it. Yipee.
I figured I would turn back at 53 minutes, hoping for a 52 minute return, which would add up to 1 hour 45 minutes. It also would take me to the next intersection, and a good place to turn around. This whole stretch on New Years Day was completely underwater, to the point where you couldn't see any road and people were actually kayaking through there. The water had now receded to just past the parking lot.
As expected, as soon as I turned around, I was running into the wind, which also as expected had now picked up considerably. Add to that a cross wind and it was downright uncomfortable. By the time I climed the last hill, I was practically standing still from the force of the wind. Nothing wears you down faster mentally and physically than wind, especially cold wind. I was now glad of two things--that I had kept my jacket on and that I had decided Saturday would be the better bike day. I now had also put my gloves back on and zipped the jacket up to my neck. And surprisingly, I saw a few bikers out with shorts on. I have to wonder if they too were surprised by the wind.
The rest of the run was definitely a mental exercise keeping going despite my lips being frozen to the point where it was hard to drink water and made recovery on the walk breaks more necessary because of being out of breath. I kept pretty even pacing until almost the end where I had to make my way through one area that had standing water. I finally gave in a little here and walked through here so as not to splash myself again and was glad I had forgotten to wear my new shoes. This is an area where there is runoff from somewhere and I can't see where, but it is nasty looking water I really hated having to get my shoes in, but the ground around it was saturated and muddy so that would have been worse.
I also started having this weird thing going on with my left knee, which I suspect is really my ITB. Every step the last couple of miles it did this weird snapping thing. Not really painful just annoying, and if I stopped I had to be careful to stop gently so as to not hyper-extend the kneecap.
So even while I was slightly distracted by this, I couldn't help notice a disturbing sight on the other side of the river where it looked like a makeshift shelter had been set up. There were people moving around the area, so I suspect it was a homeless shelter ype setup. They would have been well hidden if not for the absence of leaves on the trees. Something I can't even imagine, having to live in those conditions.
I was pretty glad to be done with the run and get out of the wind. All in all I would grade it as a B run. I did the time (actually went over a couple of minutes so no negative split), nothing hurt too much, and I tolerated the wind the best I could.
The next part of the training adventure was a "1:15 swim." I really think an hour and 15 minutes is a little bit of an unnecessary stretch for me, since I can easily swim 1.25 miles in less than 55 minutes, so I decided to just do that distance instead. At some point, I will do the full 1:15; it just wasn't going to be today.
I was barely into my first 1/4 mile when I sensed someone else standing on the side of the pool and in a second they entered the water with such force it was like a tidal wave in such a small pool. I immediately knew who it was without really knowing: my boss. What are the odds?? He is a very powerful swimmer. I had heard from Jan before when she was in the pool with him that you felt like you would be washed up on the deck every time he passed. I have to admit, it was hard keeping water out of my mouth on my breathing stroke, but it was tood triathlon practice dealing with the wave action. By the time he got out, I was at 3/4 mile so had the last 1/2 mile to myself. Mentally, this distance is getting easier and easier and I feel less and less beat up or tired so I am progressing. Total time for the day was 2 hours 44 min.
(As I am finishing this, it is actually Saturday morning.)
Today the weather is supposed to be cooler than yesterday but hopefully less windy. I am looking forward to getting out on the bike and then Sunday will be off.
Have a great Easter!


Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

You are doing great with your training.

I almost always end up running with something tied around my waist. It doesn't bother me, but I wonder it if is slowing me down...

Marlene said...

Cold wind = not fun! Crazy that you felt so warm at the beginning of your run and so cold by the end. Way to get through it!

Sunshine said...

Today we seemed to be "adjusting" to the wind the whole time.
Hope you had a good Easter.
Best wishes for your week.