Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Diary of a Slacker - Life as a Marathon

I've been doing nothing but short runs in recent months, so the appalling lack of content on my iPod has been a moot point.  If I'm only going out for a mile or two, I don't really need the earphones in and tunes or an audio book or podcast chattering at me.  Of course, every time it would occur to me to grab it, I'd discover the iPod was out of juice.  Then, too, it happens to be linked with the iTunes library on my desktop.  Which has been inoperable for the past 3 months on account of my monitor dying.  I did eventually replace it. I just haven't bothered to hook the new one up yet.  Yes, my life is a sad testament to the power of procrastination.  

Anyway, in anticipation of eventually stretching out to longer runs, I've been wanting to download some podcasts for my listening enjoyment while I endure the torture.  And rather than be bothered with the whole hooking-up-of-the-monitor and charging-of-the-iPod thing, I finally opted to download them to my iPhone. I run with it much of the time anyway so I can use my RunKeeper app.  Which tracks all manner of exercise activity, including running, biking and swimming.  But, strangely, not napping.  

I've several politically-oriented podcasts to which I regularly listen, so I subscribed to those.  And then I also, with a bit of searching, managed to locate and subscribe to podcasts from my church. Which I love to go to, but somehow rarely seem to do.  The two things you never talk about at the dinner table?  I'm all about 'em both.  They're music to my ears and inspiration to my sorry feet.  

So, iPhone suitably stocked, I resolved to get in a good work out tonight.  I've struggled to stick to my running schedule (not surprisingly.)  Socializing, sleep-deprivation, and cruddy weather have conspired to knock me off it.  But tonight, I knew I'd have a golden opportunity: Riley has acting class from 5:30 to 7:00, right by the "Y". That would give me well over an hour to get a good run in and maybe.....a swim!   I honestly cannot tell you the last time I swam (for training purposes, as opposed to fun).  It was sometime early last summer (i.e., 2010) I think.  I wasn't even sure I could locate a usable pair of goggles -- ultimately, I settled for the scratched up pair Riley used all this past summer.  

After depositing her at her class, I hustled over to the "Y," and snagged a treadmill for my run.  I figured I could manage a solid two miles.  And I had podcasts!  I opted for some religion tonight, and so pressed play to this past week's sermon: http://www.wcrossing.org/rss.aspx?c=1&f=1     Though I've not made it all the way through it, yet, you can imagine my surprise when, about 15 minutes in, the pastor, referencing a passage from Hebrews, began speaking of "the race that is marked out for us."  What lies before us - is not a 40 yard dash, it's a marathon.  And it's easy to lose focus and be hindered by the every day worries that litter our path.  

Fitting that.  In so very many ways.  They don't happen all that often, but I love the grace of those moments. They do serve me well -- as both guidance and inspiration.  Though I'd have gladly stepped off the treadmill at 1.25, I kept my focus and pushed on to the full 2.  And, though, I approached my swim with some apprehension, not sure if I could manage even 4 laps, it seemed to me that 24 would be a nice, solid reintroduction to what is, in truth, my favorite part of training.  Though it is challenging and tiring, there is something so peaceful and even rejuvenating about propelling your body steadily and rhythmically through the water.  You're alone with your thoughts and uniquely able to focus.  

And so, while I initially gave some thought to stopping at 18 laps, I stretched it out to the full 24.  Just a little over a third of a mile, completed in roughly 18 minutes.  No speed record there, but it was a good solid swim and I was pretty pleased with it.  

And no, unlike some of my far more dedicated friends, I'll not be running a marathon anytime in the near future.  But then again, I'm running one every day. We all are.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Diary of a Slacker - 11/15

4:50 a.m. No - my alarm didn't go off.  My brain just decided to make an unscheduled detour out of Dream Land. As I rolled over and stared blearily at the clock, I grumbled to myself. Only 35 minutes until the alarm was set to go off. I'd be lucky if I fell back asleep....but I did.  For what seemed like 10 seconds.  Then came the incessant bleating.  My hand clumsily slapped the snooze button.  And I thought to myself that I could actually wait and run this evening.  I tend to run better in the afternoon/evening anyway.  And another 40 minutes of sleep would be heavenly...

No.  "No excuses." That's what I keep telling myself.  And if I don't stick with it, I'm going to be a lost cause.  Slackerdom is far too easy and appealing.  So, up I got, and threw on my running pants and a long-sleeved tee.  Checked the weather -- showed 48 degrees.  Okay. Livable.  Yawn, stretch, groan.  Let's do this!

There was a fair amount of cloud cover and, at first, I thought my GPS might do a number on me again, but eventually, the little green ball lit up, assuring me that somewhere out there, Big Brother was, indeed, watching.  I set out at what felt like a somewhat faster pace than I've been employing of late.  Felt good until I made it about half way up the hill on Baxter, and suddenly felt like walking might be nice.  No, I thought.  Keep chugging along.  So, I did.  

I'm going to be damn glad when a measly 1.2 miles doesn't feel like 12.  Sheesh.  But I ran it all, and clocked a semi-decent 10:27 min/mile pace.  At least I'm moving in the right direction.  Going to have to sneak an extra run in either tomorrow morning or Friday (probably the latter), as Saturday or Sunday runs seem highly unlikely.  I aim to be having fun with friends in Indy this weekend.  Woot!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Diary of a Slacker - 11/13

So, I'm going to take a moment and pat myself on the back for completing four runs in six days.  That's probably the most frequency-wise I've done in well over a year. Distance/endurance-wise? Yeah - I still have a long way to go. 

Thursday morning, I woke up with the alarm, ready to go...until I saw that the temperature outside was in the mid-30's.  That was almost enough to persuade me that I should just blow it off and try to enjoy an extra 30 minutes of sleep.  Then, knowing that the "Y" does open at 5:00 a.m., I decided to heed my "no excuses" mantra, and get on with it. So, off I went to the "Y," arriving shortly before 6:00 a.m. I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised at just how crowded it was at that ungodly hour.  Fitness freaks abound! I hopped on the treadmill and churned out 1.25 in just over 13 minutes.  Not bad. Mission accomplished.

Saturday morning was a bit more of a chore.  Knew my brother would be here at 7:45 a.m. to pick us up for the trek down to Columbia for the Mizzou game. Which meant I had to be up and out the door by 6:00 ish.  That's a tough sell on a Saturday.  And it was chilly - lower 40's.  What was worse, neither my lungs nor my legs were cooperative.  Even though I ran my standard 1.2 around the neighborhood, I had to stop and walk a couple times.  Frustrating, knowing that, at times, I've been able to run 5 or 6 straight without walking.  Not so much at present.  Still, it was something.

Today was a total change of pace (no pun intended).  We were pushing 80 this afternoon temperature-wise.  (Wish it had been like that at the game yesterday!!) After dropping off Riley at a birthday party, I donned some shorts and a t-shirt and headed out for what was intended to be a 2 mile run.  (My "long" run of the week.)  I wasn't exactly certain of the route I wanted to take, so I just improvised as I went along.  And it turned into a 2.5 mile run. Although, in fairness, about .5 of it (on the uphills) was walking.  Still, I finished it in under 30 minutes.  And didn't feel awful afterward, save for the fact that my calves were burning and sorely disappointed that the hot tub is apparently on the fritz.

I know my chances to run outside are going to become few and far between here soon.  So I'm glad I was able to this weekend.  One thing I definitely need to do is get some podcasts downloaded onto my Nano -- those long runs are going to be rough, especially if I'm relegated to the treadmill.  Thankfully, I have several awesome sources from which to choose -- a little church, a little politics -- may not make for great dinner table talk, but to keep me company while I pound out the miles?  Music to my ears. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Diary of a Slacker - 11/8

Oh, hello.  Yes, yes it has been two weeks since I posted an entry.  I didn't choose the title of this series lightly. But I don't take this renewed effort to get back into half-marathon form lightly either. It's just that the running gods saw fit to flatten me with a weird flu-ish chest coldy thing just as I was getting back into the running groove.  

Today was the first day I felt capable of forcing the lungs and legs back into their involuntary servitude.  Thankfully, the weather was mild.  Though it was quite dark still at 5:50, and the skies spat at me a bit, it was a relatively pleasant morning for a run.  I did my standard wimpish 1.2 miles, though at an arguably more respectable pace this time - roughly a 10:25 minute mile.  

The short term goal is to churn out similar runs on Thursday and Saturday and then a 2+ miler on Sunday.  The long term goal is to be running 4 comfortably for my Sunday "long runs" by year's end. This is doable.  If I can stay semi-healthy, anyway!