Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Longer Run

The idea of doing a longer run on Saturday mornings has been simmering in my head since I stopped running six miles a few months ago.
As hard as it was on me to admit that I am no longer strong enough to run six miles without stopping at least once to walk for a minute or two, I submitted to the realities of life.
But the fallback distance of 3+ miles – even with a significant 3/4+ mile hill consistently left me wanting more.
So the question that wanted an answer was, if six miles is too much, what is the baby bear distance (“just right”)?
Five miles?
Four miles?

These questions never got answered before I had to stop running altogether for three months while I expended my energy six days each week fixing up my flip house.
That effort ended two weeks ago and I went promptly back to my weight lifting walking running program.
But because last weekend had a special church function going on Saturday morning, I shifted my Saturday morning run to Sunday morning before church.
I had intended to add some extra distance to my hilly course to test my abilities that weekend, but thought better of it because I did not know how much time it would add to my running session.
I did not want to scramble my get-ready-for-church activities and end up late for the pre-Sunday school responsibilities that I must attend.
So I passed on the extra distance experiment last week.
Which takes us to this morning.

The night-time temperature remained surprisingly mild – mid 50's with a light breeze.
But I had had a busy night in the bed, with many foggy confrontations that partially woke me up several times.
So when the alarm spoke quietly to me a 4:58, I was not really ready to respond with a leap out from between the memory foam and the flannel sheet/comforter.
So I pressed the off button and rolled over in the warm cocoon.
But I was playing my margin.
I knew that it takes only about 15 minutes to shave and get dressed (the shower is saved until after the run....), and about 10 minutes to drive to the running course.
This would theoretically, allow me 30 extra minutes of snoozing, should I choose to indulge.

I dozed for a few minutes longer than the ten minutes that I intended.
So when I popped one eye open to check the time, I knew I needed to get at it.
It was 5:15.
Getting out of the snuggly warmness is the hardest part.
I turn my heat down to 65 at night in the fall/winter so the first sensation if feel when I get out of the warm bed is COLDNESS.
A few button pushes on the electronic heating machine controller begins the process of warming the air temperature to a more comfortable.

For some reason, I overdressed this morning.
50 degrees and above is warm enough to allow bare legs when running.
But today I pulled on my wind pants for just a bit more protection.
I also wore my light, long-sleeved zip top – my usual covering for this temperature.
In addition I worn my light knit gloves and my ear warmer.
All of this is one of the reasons I despise winter.
Trying to keep my body temperature comfortable when running.

My circulation is very uneven, and running seems to only amplify some of these discrepancies.
I can be sweating at my armpits and have cold ears, hands and feet.
And this temperature variation can be moderated by a surprisingly lightweight layer on these parts.

When I started out on the course, my left hip, knee and ankle all took turns complaining about their lot in life.
None of this was strong enough to seriously consider canceling the party, but it put me on notice that the potential was there.
I do not do any warm up exercises, so my first quarter mile of running is very tentative and cautious.
I felt other nudges of distress from my upper and lower back, probably from my weight workout yesterday.
Gradually, everything gets with the program and I am fine for the duration.
It was so today.

Going up the big hill was a bit of a challenge today.
By the time I got to the top, where I turn south, I was into level three breathing.
That is not my preferred rate, but I knew that I was finished with the most difficult portion of my course, so I did not fret too much about this.
Ego would have preferred that I not be breathing faster at all.
Silly boy.

The more level plane of Tollgate Road got the breathing rate back into preferred cadance and the walk down Mountainwood was uneventful.
It was at this point that the zipper on my long-sleeved top was taken all the way down.
I was warm.
Then came the change.
Instead of turning left at the bottom of Mountainwood and going to the 1/10th mile out and back on Owens Drive, I turned right on Owens and started down the gentle grade.
I ran sightly more than a half mile, looped around and started back.
I felt good at this point.
The question at this point was, is this too much?

It on the return trip that I wished I had left the wind pants in the car.
I was just a bit warmer than I wanted to be.
But I was quickly lost is the nostalgia of running my favorite course again, in the direction that I prefer.
From this turn-around point, I would be following almost two full miles of the six-mile course.
I plodded along, daydreaming – the sure sign for me that I am as comfortable and free as I can possibility be.

The last quarter mile was not as easy as it has been in times past.
Nothing was wrong, I just knew that I had expended some extra effort.
When I got to my car I was ready to stop.
I could have run further, if necessary.
But it was not necessary.
I had completed my planned distance.
I felt properly challenged.
After a short cool-down walk, I slid into my car drove home.
Certain that I will do this distance again next week.
I love running.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Running Date of Up

Since the first week in August, yers troolee has been busy fixing up a house to resell or rent (wee will let the market decide which it is to be...).
Given that this house project required a lot (LOT!) of bending, standing, stooping, wiping, scrubbing, kneeling, etc, six days a week, I decided to forgo all weight workouts, morning walks and weekend runs until the project was finished.
I knew that my elderly body was only capable of doing so much effort in a given time period and I needed to get the house fixed up ASAP.
That is one reason why there have been so few posts on this here blog.

As of this past weekend, virtually all tasks at the Flip House have been completed.
The few that remain are of the optional nature and will not affect the value of the house in any meaningful way.
Thus, this past Monday I started my previously usual morning weight workouts, walks, and - TA DA - my Saturday morning runs.

It is not a welcome sign when the local weather person predicts that the morning temperature will be 37 degrees. (I HATE winter)
But that is what he promised for this morning.
So when the gentle radio alarm came on at 4:58 this morning, I knew what I was in for.
Based on previous adventures of this sort, I dressed in two layers on legs and top, mittens and ear cover band.

The day was dawning clear with an ever-so-gentle breeze of 1 or 2 mph.
Having been out of training (of this sort) for three months, I was prepared for a bad run.
"Bad" meaning having to stop and walk and/or some muscle/tendon/ligament/joint breaking, etc.

I started out on my hill course with a "let's see what we can do" attitude.
To my surprise, I warmed up quickly.
So quickly in fact, that I was pulling neck zippers down at the end of the first half mile.
As I putted along I felt nearly every body part from my hips on down announce its displeasure with the festivities.
Hamstrings were complaining - mildly - about how hard life was, and left hip chimed in.
My chest and triceps were chirping as well, from my first chest workout in three months yesterday morning.
None of this was even close to painful and the unanimous response to all of this from Runner, Coach, and Running Central was "get over it".
Which they all did, more or less.

As I started up the steeper incline in mile one, I wondered if I would be able to go the distance.
Assuming that I would have a difficult time of it today, I did not push my pace.
I just wanted to finish without any unplanned stops. (there was a planned walk down and then back up The Hill at mid-point)
I was pleasantly surprised.
I was able to run all the way up the 3/4 mile hill without a stop.
In fact, my breathing or effort never came close to the point where I wondered if I should stop.
The Bankhead hill is a substantial challenge on a good day.
That is one reason why I run it.

Frankly, I was surprised how "easy" this session turned out to be, considering my past runlessness.
I knew I was taking a chance by not, first, running a level course of the same distance to build up to this level of effort.
But I was feeling frisky after a week of my usual exercise routine and no serious negative reactions.

When I got to the end of my planned circuit (my car) I did not want to stop (a VERY good sign).
I ran a half a block past my car for the shear joy of it.
Could I have done 6 miles today?
No.
Could I have done four?
Prolly.
But I would have produced many lingering physical memories by doing so.
We will see who/where reminds me of the cost of my excess faux youthfulness tomorrow.
In the meantime, I look forward to next weekend.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Movie Review - There Will Be Blood

While the rest of the state of Alabama was watching a football game, I spent part of the evening watching a movie that was regarded by the movie making community as an excellent film.
I did not get to see the first 30 minutes or so of the film, but that seemed not to matter.
I was only mildly impressed in a positive way.

It reminded me of a remake of the oil-tycoon-related movie "Giant", which my natural father worked on.
The "Blood" movie was stereotypically Hollywood, to wit:
There was a "fundamentalist" preacher who was proved to be a hypocrite.
There was an oil tycoon who was a drunkard and ruthless and hateful and mean and nasty.
These two major themes were so hackneyed that I almost changed the channel.
The ending was awkward and unfulfilling.
This is not because the bad guy did not get his due, it just seemed that a more conclusive ending could have been created.

And Hollywood got to drop its collective pants at us conservatives again and present two of its favorite topics - evil rich businessmen and the Christian religion, of the more conservative persuasion.
Never mind that many of them are "rich".
THEY are Arteests and earn their millions playing people that are not.
Or at least, they want us to think they are not like the people portrayed in their productions.
But my perception of the moral behavior of most Hollywood types leads me to the conclusion that many of them are virtually identical to some of their evil characters, just with a different costume.

So, some questions arise....
1 Does EVERY wealthy businessperson have to be evil?
2 Does EVERY Christian minister HAVE to be so fundamentally flawed that we can have no faith in what they say or do?
The easy answer is, no.
But the exceptions to the more common Hollywood characterizations are all too rare to suit me.
Which is why I so rarely watch their so-predictable presentations.