Saturday, July 07, 2007

Surprise! Again!

After the rather disappointing news of a couple of weeks ago that my running course was not three miles, as I intended, but two miles (2.3 to be ezakt), I set about to re-plot my path to really (reelee) be three miles.
So today, Saturday, I tried out a modified course that, according to my calculations, was 3.15 miles.
It should be pointed out that it is one thing to have a course of a planned length, it is quite another to actually run the whole length of it.

As you may know, I took advantage of the holiday on Wednesday and ran the two mile course in the early morning (six AM).
I was not pleased with my performance that day ( I felt tired, etc.) but I had a successful run nonetheless.
It was not intended to break new ground in distance or intensity - just a "maintenance" session.
It served that function, so in that view, it was a successful session.

So today, I was somewhat concerned that I would still feel weak and not do well on my new longer path.
My concern was not necessary.
I started out cautiously, mindful of the longer duration of my planned session.
The time was 6:08 AM.
The weather was typical for this location and time of year - about 70 degrees with about 95 percent humidity (really).
It was so humid that there was fog just a few dozen feet above the ground.

After some minor whining from my left hip and hamstring, everybody settled down for the task at hand (or foot, if you like).
Hill # 1 went well, with accelerated breathing starting only after I reached the top.
Hill # 2 also went well, with accelerated breathing starting late in the segment.
Breathing was slightly impaired because of the heavy, wet air.
After topping hill 2, instead of turning right, I kept going straight, crossing Old Madison Pike.
I wondered if I could make this additional mile and a half loop.
In the back of my mind, I was prepared to nurse my wounded ego (or id) if things got so difficult that I had to stop running and walk for a few minutes.

But the longer I ran, the better I felt.
This was a segment of my old running course.
I had traveled it many times in years past, so it felt familiar and comfortable.
At the end of the first half-mile leg, I was feeling surprisingly strong.
I turned right for the second half-mile segment, still feeling good.
As I turned right again, to begin the last half-mile portion of this loop, I wondered if my breathing would hold to my more relaxed one-per-four-steps level or bump up to the one-per-three-steps rate, like it did the last time I ran this loop.
Interestingly, my breathing held to the lower rate until I crossed Old Madison Pike and turned left for the last quarter-mile segment.
But by then I could almost see my car.
I was nearing the finish line, and elevated breathing was more in order.

By now, my body was beginning to talk to me about various points of discomfort.
None of this was urgent or even painful, and I was pleased (again!) that all systems were still go for the finish.

As I entered the parking lot of the office park where my car was parked, Run Command Central gave authorization for the session to stop at the near end of the long office building near my car, rather than the far end, as a reward for the good performance.
But my body (and ego or id or whatever hidden part of me that responds to challenges) signaled it's intention to push to the far end of the building.
To be sure, I was tired.
There was no sprint here.
But there was no letup, either.
My legs, though tired, were pushed to maintain - and even increase - their pace as I traveled the final one hundred yards.
I worked to lengthen my strides as I approached the end point.
It was with great satisfaction that I stopped running and began my cool-down walk.
I was very tired - and pleased.
I ran the whole way.
The time was 6:45 AM.
It had taken me 37 minutes to run three point one five miles.
I am not as fast as I used to be.
But at this point in my life (read: age) I will trade speed for time and distance willingly.
And to my surprise - again - I am stronger than I was last week.

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