Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Difficultly Moderate

When I was sick last week I emailed Coach Jack to get a second opinion on my stuffy head. He advised I enjoy my time off and run when I feel better. This was easier said than done, and the longer I went without running the more I craved it. Deny it all you want, running is an addiction of the worst and best kind.

With Broad Street last Sunday, I knew I should take at least one day off for rest after such a long run, which made Tuesday (yesterday) my first REAL day back on the ground since before Rutgers. I had gone on a few walks and jogs and even a decent run on the treadmill but I hadn't felt that burning feeling in my lungs and legs in a while. Nothing was going to get in the way of my run, even mother nature knew to give me a good day. That morning I awoke to a cool crisp breeze slipping into my room coaxing me out of bed even earlier than usual.

No lie the first thing that came to my mind was "I get to run today" followed by a nice big smile. There is nothing I love more than waking up to nice weather, early enough to get some stretching/ yoga in before work. All day I could barely concentrate, distracted, waiting for the clock to hit 5 so I could get home. I impatiently sat through 45 minutes of traffic all the way home, practically ran through the door and began getting dressed. I had a mini panic attack when I couldn't find my inhaler, and then quickly remembered it was in my race bag from Sunday. (Note to self: Need new race day bag - post race banana got squished at bottom of current bag and insides are all sticky)

Ever since a bad speed workout a few weeks ago, I have been upping the amount of asthma meds back to my original doses. I had slipped up when I wasn't running so hard because I felt fine, but now I wanted to push harder and I didn't want any excuse to hold me back. So in addition to albuterol before running, I take Flovent in the morning, and at night (when I remember) So far I am finding this combo works pretty well, and I'm just playing it by ear for the next few weeks so see if it continues to work. For now as long as the shortness of breath comes only when running I assume I just need to condition myself more.

Even as I headed out the door I didn't yet know what kind of workout I wanted to do. The only thing I knew is I wanted a challenge. I chose a route that had some little hills, and contemplated running hard on the hills. I thought about doing tempo but I like to time myself for that and I wasn't sure of any mile markers along this course (Note to self: remind Boyfriend of this when pleading my case for a Garmin). Finally I settled on one of my favorite workouts, a negative split out and back. Easy to accomplish just run faster on the way back than on the way out and you have a successful workout. So I stared down the street, early evening sun in my face, cool air in my lungs. It was so freeing to take those first few steps, no pain, no discomfort, just movement. I forced myself to hold back, because my first instinct was to just fly. It was incredible just to feel every muscle working.

Keeping a steady pace, my mind kept looping back to the fact that I was out running and feeling good. I didn't much care about my pace, just that it was a level between easy and moderate. I started to wonder, if intervals are moderately difficult what could I call today? Moderate? That just sounded boring. I wanted it to have more words. Moderately medium? Oh like that was a whole lot better. It wasn't easy, that's for sure. I was definitely struggling for breath at some points and slowed down a little bit even though I didn't want to. I passed a few runners who looked like they were struggling. Whenever this happens I want to reach out and high five them, or say something like "keep going you can do it". Most times I keep my mouth shut because I don't want to startle/scare/freak anyone out.

Before I know it, the trail I am runing comes to an end as intersects with a main street and I start to guess my time. I have not been looking at my watch the whole run and I decide if my time is 20 minutes (for two miles) I will be happy. Forced to stop and wait for the green light to cross the street I cheated and glanced down at my wrist. Fifteen minutes and change with roughly a quarter mile to go. Shit. I hoped all the people waiting at the bus stop were not offended by my random out-loud cursing. Thankfully it is the city of Philadelphia and I don't think they noticed. The light turned green and charged on, turning around almost at the same moment that my watch read 17:00:00. It was that moment that i realized I had almost definitely miscalculated my mileage. I know I don't run that fast, even if I do, I don't run that fast after two weeks off. Never the less I turned around and headed back home.

I started noticing how much more fluid my running had felt today. Back on the path I tackled a small hill and realized it was easier than usual. Even with my distance being shorter than I had wanted, the sheer fact that running felt easier is success enough for me. Easier except for my lungs. It was during this second half of the run that my chest became really tight and even though the rest of my body wanted to run faster my lungs very stubbornly said no. I was forced to slow down at a few points until I could take in a whole breath, but as soon as I did I sped up again. The second half of the trail isn't too bad, until you get to the end and there are several stretches of uphill. At one point it intersects with a small parking lot and I watched a couple ahead of me trotting up ahead of me. Had it not been for them I probably would have slacked on that last little bit, but my inner competitive monster took over and I ran ahead of them. There was one last traffic light to stop for and I let myself catch my breath before the home stretch. In the past I used to be that weird jogging-in-place girl at traffic lights. I was afraid if I stopped moving my feet I would never get started. But at this moment I needed the rest. A cyclist pulled up behind me and tried to make polite conversation about the gorgeous day, there was not enough in me to respond so I just nodded. I watched as the light turned yellow for the crossing traffic, bent over with my hands on my knees as if bowing low to the ground to get a good push off start. The light turned green. I took off. My legs felt detached from by body my lungs gasping for any little bit of breath they could get and then as fast as it had started it was over, I hit the end of my route and I was done. Ok so maybe it was a little more than a moderate run.

Later that night I checked my mileage on I was right, it had only been 3.68 miles and not 4 like I had thought but I was happy for having pushed myself and maybe a little relived that I didn't gain some magical speed overnight. As much as I dream of being fast I really enjoy seeing my week to week progress. Sometimes it is what brings me joy out of my running. When all the hard work pays off and you improve your time, even if by only seconds. If I woke up tomorrow and could suddenly run 8 minute miles I would almost feel sad that I missed all the time and work that took me to that point. Another day another run.

xx Sara

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