Friday, January 30, 2015

Holy Hills and Loose Dogs Plus a Bull or Two: Encounters on the Long Run

Last weekend, I needed 15 miles on my long run.  The training plan called for it.  I'd run 13.1 and 14 the two weeks prior.  It was TIME.  For me, 15 miles is a turning point in training.  It is the turn into serious running territory.  A 15-mile run can go a lot of ways.  Not all of them are good!

It turned into a frustrating run of slow and snow and cold, and I pulled the plug at 11.5 miles.  This week, I knew I HAD to get it in.

I'm also coaching 17 people for a spring half marathon.  It's a sweet gig, and I enjoy helping these runners on their journey to 13.1.  Last weekend was actually their first group run of five miles, and thank goodness no one fell on the snowy, slippery greenway.  This weekend, they are running six hilly miles in my favorite running neighborhood.  I knew it would be tough to run six with them and have a break to coach them in stretching, etc, and then have to continue for nine more on my own, so I found a friend who wanted to do a long run today while the kids were at school.

It got interesting when my littlest also told me last night that she has awards day at 12 at school. That gave me a fairly small window to get in 15 miles and get presentable and back to school!

I dropped her off at school the minute it opened and rushed back home to head out.  I had to run at least 3 miles before my friend arrived because she didn't need a run quite as long as mine.  I wound up with a relaxed 3.5 miles in my neighborhood.  Well, relaxed might be the wrong word. There is one dog in my neighborhood that scares me--a large, muscular German Shepherd with an underground electric fence, who never lets me pass without barking at me loudly (and angrily?).  I had to pass her twice.  Shiver.  I always worry that her electric shock collar will have a dead battery....

I realized within the first three miles that my legs were still a bit tired from 5 miles of speedwork on Tuesday and a 7-mile trail run on Wednesday.

My friend arrived, and we headed out.  We passed scary dog again, and she is much less scary with a buddy.  We headed for some country roads near my house.  Country roads = hills and loose dogs, apparently.  We were running happily along when a dog ran out at us. This one didn't stop at the edge of the yard like the one with the invisible fence.  He came all the way into the road and had no collar.  I just instinctively said, "No! Go home!"  And he stopped.  He crouched down and looked like he felt guilty.  We kept moving, but I picked up a large stick to carry.  We went down a side road and knew we'd have to face him again.

We ran on a pretty country road for a while, up and down big hills.  At another house, two dogs were VERY excited to see us.  They came out as a pair, running as fast as they could toward us.  We froze, but their whole bodies were pretty much wagging.  They crossed the road to us, but they just wanted to say hi.  I petted them for a minute, and they were happy.

We continued.  We ran and ran and ran.  Then we checked our mileage.  Five miles???  We've only been five miles?  Whaaaaat?

You know those runs that seem endless?  Turns out my friend was also pretty tired, and we were both struggling a bit.  We walked the big hills and just kept making forward progress.  We did an out and back, so we got to stop and pet the friendly dogs again (well, just me) and deal with the less-friendly loose dog (he was totally crouched in a ditch waiting for us).   We took a different country road for a mile or so and saw two huge bulls looking at us as we ran toward them.  Then we noticed the gate was open to their pen. Wide open.  There was a grate at the bottom of that apparently animals don't like to walk across though, but that was the only thing between us and them.   I freaked out a little and turned back.  I don't really have experience with bulls and grates.  I just know I don't want a bull chasing me.  Country running has its advantages and disadvantages. :-)

We ran back toward my house as best we could.... relentless forward progress.  We got quiet. I turned on my music.  We walked the big hills and the small ones, too.  We finally got back to the house.  I was short two miles, but I had about 22 minutes before I HAD to get into the shower.  Onto the treadmill I climbed.  I finished mile 15 at 11:02 a.m., grabbed a bite to eat, jumped into the shower, and sat down at awards day with 6 minutes to spare.

It was just one of those runs.  My forearm is sore from carrying the big stick, too.  I wonder if it would have worked on the bulls?    :-)

My baby got all A's and B's at the awards day, so I signed her out early from school to take her for some sushi and ice cream!







Monday, January 19, 2015

A Belated New Year's Post: Building a Sturdy Runner

I've been letting my new year's running resolution simmer.  Marinate.  Sink in.  It stemmed from a church service early in the new year.  I paraphrased from a general life application to a more specific running application:



So, this year, I will build a sturdy runner-- one who can run 5K's hard and 50K's gently, one who is equally at home on roads and trails, one who conquers hills and glides across flats, one who is consistent in training and avoids burnout.

I will accomplish this by strength training, training smart, and listening to my body.  The ultimate goal is to run for the rest of my life.  Sturdy.  Strong.  Motivated.  Happy.

I'm carefully building a base.  I just had my one-year anniversary with IT band friction syndrome in my right knee.  It doesn't go away--it flares and it improves in an annoying cycle.  My left knee is a bit better as long as I don't do any lunges.

It's only January.  I've got lots of time.

It's a PROCESS that will take patience.