Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Difficult Day

This was suck it up day.
I am speaking of my morning run.
The weather was nice - about 65 though a bit humid.
I have been busy all week with Vacation Bible School and have not exercised like I would desire.
Thus, I was a bit concerned that my Saturday run would be more of a challenge.
This, after my surprising (to me) progress thus far.

And it turned out as I had feared.
From the first steps there were complaints from various locations - lower back, left hip left hamstring and left knee.
But after a few hundred feet, everyone seemed to settle down to muted mumblings.
It was clear to me after the first eighth of a mile that I was tired.
I did not feel strong and I dreaded how my body would react to the two small hills yet ahead.
I did okay going up the first one and did not go into faster breathing until I reached the top (a common point for the extra effort to manifest itself).
It took more time than I wished for my breathing to settle down again as I went down the first hill, but I did regain my usual composure - such as it is on a run.

Halfway up the next hill - almost a quarter mile long - my breathing kicked into three-step mode again.
I was working and I felt it.
But by this time, I had resigned myself to a test of my will over my aging body.
I had a plan for victory - run, no matter how I feel.
No stopping for ANYTHING short of impending injury.
Topping hill two, I expected my breathing to remain faster than my preferred rate, and it was so.

(I learned in racing that if I was to do well - decrease my race times - I would have to push myself into the three-steps-per-breath rate in the first five minutes of the race (for a 5K race) and maintain that rate for the WHOLE race. It worked.)

So, today, I just accepted that I was in race mode and was going to have to dig in and go for the finish line, like in the racing days.
Strangely, I accepted the challenge with surprising ease.
(I do not consider myself a person who seeks or enjoys challenges - in spite of what I have learned about myself from racing, so I am still surprised when I catch myself pursuing a difficult goal.)
This was not a "fun" run (like last week); this was work.
But it was the "no pain- no gain" thing.
Do it and get better, or wimp out and pay the price of diminished strength and rebuilding later.
Fortunately, all of the whiners stayed relatively silent for the duration.

I spent much of my time working to make sure that my left foot pushed off the same spot on the balls of my foot behind my second and third toes, just like my right foot does with no effort.
(My left foot likes to flop around if I do not force it to behave.
If not made to obey proper form, it likes to push off of the end of the big toe.
I am not sure why.)

When I reached Governors Drive West, I had to stop for a poorly timed car to pass.
Sometimes, having to stop is the death knell for a difficult run because it is so difficult to get going again.
Not today.
I just dug in and started again.
It was hard, but by this time (about a tenth of a mile from my finish point) I was pushing myself to see just how much mojo I had in me.
I was tired but that was part of the point of the whole session.

As I approached the end, my mind - no doubt in response to my tired body - suggested that I stop at the first corner of the building I was approaching.
The Run Command Center immediately rejected the suggestion and decreed another stopping point closer to my car - and farther away from my then current location (at the FAR end of the building).
And that is were the run ended.
I was too tired to do any sprinting at the end.
It took extra effort just to maintain my pace at that stage.

As usual, I felt the dichotometric feelings of tiredness and exhilaration from the endorphin rush.
Run duration: 34 minutes 21 seconds.
I later verified that this course is indeed 3.2 miles long.
It is good to be running again.

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