And on the third day of Spring….

….I ran outside!

I know I have done a couple runs, but they were generally to get somewhere. Today I ran just to have a nice long run out on the road.

I am proud I did because it was spontaneous and the weather was not promising. Blue sky and sun always invites us out to play. It is harder to motivate yourself to get out the door (instead of downstairs on the treadmill where you can watch tv) when there are looming gray rain clouds out there. I thought it would be raining when I got up, and when I realized that it was light out and still dry, I thought I should actually run outside.

I ran my personal 5k route (it is actually a hair over, 3.3 miles, so a good trainer) and made it up all the hills (there are nine of varying size). I am betting it was the stairs I did throughout the winter on my walk breaks at work. My time wasn’t all that great, but with hills and first run of the season, I can live with it.

I almost beat the weather. I had just hit the 2 mile  mark when I saw the first floating snowflake. At least it wasn’t rain! Within half a mile it was a steady snow/sleet mix hitting me in the face. But it was still a wonderful run, and being outside was fantastic. And now on to the rest of spring (sans snow).

 

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Runner?

My wonderful husband got me Runner’s World  magazine for Christmas. One issue in, and I have learned two things.

One, it’s a great magazine and I am totally enjoying reading people who focus on running even more than I do.  It does seem to be aimed more at long distance runners, which I don’t really aspire to. For one thing, with my knee damage, I would rather run short distances for a longer period of time than long distances for a short time. For another, not sure that UltraMarathoning is truly good for a human body. We weren’t really built for that. Which, of course, is why it is so amazing that runners can do it. But most of the articles apply to all running, and are right on point.

The other thing I learned was that I am a runner. As I read the article by the young lady who ran a marathon (and placed) in a different brand of shoe than she had been in love with for several years and felt oddly like she had betrayed her previous sneakers,  it occurred to me that if I only had time to run or ride the horse, I would be waving to the mare on the way out of the driveway for my run.

Running comes first. And I think that is what defines a runner, not the mileage or the speed, just the intent.

I enjoy yoga, I do weights because it helps with running, kickboxing is a great way to blow off steam, kayaking is pretty and I love my horses. But I would rather run than do any of those. And I hope everyone has that one activity that they would just rather do more than anything else, because running brings me peace. And everyone needs that.

 

Snowy Friday

Seemed like last year during winter, I hit every snowstorm during a commute, whether morning or night. So I am pretty happy the first substantial (early) storm happened on a Friday–which I get off. Maybe this will set a trend for this year?

                                      I think we ended up with about 5 or 6 inches

I am feeling pretty relaxed today, happy that not only do I not have to go anywhere, no one can expect me to go somewhere in the mess out there. What a wonderful day!

I have spent the day alternating between short bursts of cleaning and hanging out with Daisy in front of the tv. I finally decided before lunch that I ought to get on the treadmill.

I had no real plan when I got on, I was vaguely thinking it would be similar to last Friday’s run. So 3 mile-ish.

Since I was in no hurry, I did a warm-up of 1 minute at 3 MPH and 4 minutes at 4 MPH, before running my first mile at 6 MPH. Last week I did my second at 6.5 and my third at 7.0. Today I went straight to 7 for the second mile, with the idea that I would do a slow third mile. But I was running easily, so I stayed at 7 for the third mile too, then did a 7 minute cool down at 4 MPH and 3 MPH, dropping down to 2 for the last minute.

And the point of all this? It felt soooooo good!

I mean, I pretty much took September off due to the knees and only scattered short runs throughout October, and here I just ran 3 miles at a fairly decent pace with no problems at all.

First, I feel ecstatic that my knees seemed to have bounced back. Second, I am rather happy that not all my conditioning had faded.

The worst part of not running was knowing how hard it was going to be to start back up. Ok, that wasn’t the worst, but I did know what was coming (the actual not running and clearing my mind was the worst). I am happy it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

Next day update: Yup, I was a little sore this morning when I got up.  But then we started doing stuff (going out in the back fields to get evergreen tips, carrying wood), and they felt incredibly fine. And my run didn’t hurt at all 🙂

Whose in charge here?

Apparently, my knees are.

My left knee has been increasingly uncomfortable recently, probably from the extra stress the last two years while I babied my right knee. I have been wearing a brace on both, but I think my summer of pushing further, faster has come back to bite me.

Since I am doing my yoga month, I took this week off from running. My run last Friday was uncomfortable.  Going down hills with my left leg feels like someone is sliding a knife under my patella from the top. Fortunately, it rebounds fairly quickly when I hit level ground. And I have discovered that “slaloming” down the hill helps my legs a great deal, although I am sure people are wondering why I am running back and forth as I run down the hill 🙂 Just getting a few extra steps in!

I went for my first run for the week this morning. Now, originally, I had planned a fairly short run. But as my knees felt ok (the one steep-ish downhill did hurt), I kept going just “a little further.” I went out about 2.5 miles. And made it back about 2 miles before my left knee told me, in no uncertain terms, that it was done.  I walked the last half mile.

I had a hard time giving in. But I remembered seeing an older marathon runner I knew limping along daily because he just refused to stop. I thought it was foolish at the time.

I decided not to be foolish. Everyone has injury issues, and not pressing on to make it worse is the smart thing to do. Walking didn’t hurt at all, so I guess Daisy will be getting a lot of exercise for the next week! And I will be looking for exercises to make my knee muscles and tendons stronger.

 

Goals

I tend to be fairly goal oriented – I blame my parents.  While I love running just for running, I am always looking for the next challenge. It is good to know what you are working towards so that you can keep getting better.

Some of my first goals were to run the Rail Trail (a 6.3 mile run) from Gardiner to Augusta, do a 10 minute mile out on the road (ya know, where there are hills and bumps and holes vs the treadmills where one can sleep and still manage not to trip), to do the Blinn Loop (5.6 miles) back to my house, and to run to the Bog road (5.3 miles).

One of my fav runs now is to the Bog road and back, I ran the Rail Trail last summer, I have managed the Loop (although I don’t like it), and I have done a sub-10 minute mile a couple of times.

So now I need some new goals. I have a couple fairly easy ones–I just want to run the 6.3 mile Rail Trail faster, I love shaving time off the Loop or the Bog rd, and I am aiming for a sub-9 minute mile out on the road.

But I need bigger goals,  right?

I have done two 5Ks this year, so now my goal is a 10K.  That is the race my dad ran most often, so it kinda has always been  a goal in the back of my mind once I started running road races.I dropped off my car at my mechanic’s down on Blinn hill and ran from there down to  the Dresden side and back to my house, which was a 6.1 mile run. I would love to run it from my house and back, which would be an 8 or so mile run. That goal may have to be next year. We will see.

I do want to say that I am not aiming for a half marathon–ever. If I put that out at any point, please feel free to smack me!

I have reached the point where even my “strong” knee is wearing a brace while running, so while I love running  5 or 6 miles (which is further than I ever thought I would run as normal run), I don’t think longer distances are a wise idea for me. I would rather run 3 to 6 miles for another ten years than go on longer runs and then not be able to run  at all.

I expect eventually the knees will give out on me, but I am going to baby them as much as possible to go as long as possible. After that, well, I guess I will be walking!

 

A Hilly Run

I have certainly mentioned the mountain in my area before. I mean, it’s not really a mountain, but try walking up it.  Definitely feels like a mountain.

On the Pittston side it is a fairly straight up  .96 mile to the top, where the other side coming up through Dresden is a leisurely 3 miles of flats, steep inclines and grades to the summit.

Running either side is excellent training. I haven’t been using the steeper, shorter side this year so far. I ran it once last week for the first time. Wasn’t quite as horrible as I remembered.

The first half mile is three slopes in the first 4/10s of the mile, then levels off for a tenth until you start going up for the second half. The first slope is the kicker, it’s the longest and dang, it is steeeeeep. Gets easier after that (it helps if you keep telling yourself that).

My road comes out at the halfway point, so I run up the second half all the time to run over and down the other side towards Dresden. That  part of the run was simple.

Because I am goal oriented, now that I had run up the mountain once, I needed to do it twice — in a row. And that’s what I did this morning  🙂

It was a lovely 5 mile run in total, with the half mile to the hill, down the hill and up (and up) and home. Oddly, my last mile was the fastest (probably just glad I was almost done!). And my second time up the hill was a bit faster than the first. Go figure.

So three times next time?

Outside….FINALLY!

I bought another pair of sneakers to run outside in. I know there will be weather throughout the spring and summer that will force me inside on the treadmill.  As I live on a dirt road, getting all the dirt out of the treads so my carpet at the end of the treadmill belt doesn’t get a little (or big) pile of dirt is near impossible. I learned this last summer.

So I finally bit the bullet (sneakers aren’t cheap) and ordered them. I figure in the long run (hee hee), they will both last longer as I switch off and I won’t need another pair as soon. They arrived Monday April 2nd.

And the weather abruptly dropped cold. Not that I couldn’t have run outside, but it simply wasn’t inviting with the cold wind whipping us every time we ventured out. And then it rained every other day 😦

Today was sunny with no wind and only puffy white clouds floating around. Ah, it was beautiful! Teeshirt and hoodie kept me warm–almost too warm by the end.  New sneakers worked as expected, and it was just the most beautiful run.

Last year the first hill gave me issues, and it was my third run before I made it up at a run.

Floated right up it this morning 🙂

I feel like I am in such better shape than last spring and oh, it makes me happy. I did 3.34 miles in 35 minutes, which is not quite as fast a pace as I have been running on the treadmill. But throw in six hills (some bigger than others, but definitely some substantial ones) in those 3.34 miles and I feel it was  definitely a decent run.

Too bad we are expecting freezing rain tomorrow!

 

A Year of Running

No one that knows me was surprised I started running the moment I could after my accident broke my knee (among other things).

I nailed my  ortho doctor down in May (four months after the accident) on when he thought I could start running. After rebuilding my knee, he wasn’t keen on my ruining it again.  And, based on the amount of cushion I had left, he wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it as much as I thought I would. But after some pushing, he suggested August first as a possibility he could live with

So of course I got on the treadmill August 1st and proceeded to run…..for 2 minutes at a very slow pace, holding on to the treadmill bars.

But it was running!

I didn’t run outside for quite a while, I think it was the end of September before I ventured out. Even so, most of my running that fall was done on the treadmill.  And throughout the winter, naturally, I was in on the treadmill.

I started running outside as soon as possible in the spring. I remembered how very much I hated hills (also that I was surrounded by hills). And how very wonderful it was when I managed to conquer them.

These were the numbers for my first August. And only an hour and twenty-eight minutes were actually spent running. A lot of them were walking the dog 🙂

Last month stats

The numbers for August, a year later.  Still a good bit of walking the dog–she is a demanding little girl. But six and a half hours and thirty  miles of those numbers were running. The bulk of them were run outside, with only two days on the treadmill (must have been raining!).

I also hit one of my major goals that month, running the Rail Trail between Gardiner and Augusta; a distance of 6.5 miles. I felt wonderful.

I’m back on the treadmill now, with extreme cold outside. It is currently, at 9AM, -17 degrees here. Although there was a road race in Bangor–oh my, they are even further north–yesterday, I am just not that brave. But I am already looking forward to getting back out there in the spring!

Mileposts

I have a bunch of running goals I want to accomplish, hopefully before snow sets in this winter. Today I conquered a big one.

Milepost 1

I ran 6.5 miles on the Rail Trail from Gardiner to Augusta today. It was awesome!

I decided I wasn’t worried about time, I just wanted to make it from end to end. I haven’t run this trail (in its entirety) since the summer before my accident. And only the once.

So my stomach was a mass of butterflies as I drove to Gardiner today.

The longest I had run this summer was 5 miles, and that was a month ago. I was truly intimidated by the length of run. The plan was to meet a friend at the other end, then have coffee and shopping before she took me back to my car.  I knew that she would have picked me up anywhere along the route if it had been needed. So that wasn’t the issue, I was just concerned that it might be necessary. I had already decided that if I needed to walk, I would. That took some pressure off too. But of course I didn’t want to walk. Not to get too philosophical, but I decided the only thing I could do was take a deep breath and run one step at time.

So I went to the start of the trail, took that breath and stretched, then took that first step.

I definitely wasn’t going too fast to start, as I was worried about lasting all the miles. But I worked on getting a nice, consistent pace and kept taking those deep breaths. By the time I finished the first mile, I had relaxed into a rhythm. The nice thing about the Rail Trail is that it is a rolling path, with up and down grades instead of huge hills. And the only two big hills are coming the other way (I’ll be doing that next), going the way I was this morning meant I got to go down those hills. Gotta stack the deck anyway you can 😛

By the time I finished mile 3 I realized I could do this, and by the time I finished mile 4 I felt pretty dang good.  That feeling continued when I finished and looked at my splits.

The last longish run I did was 3.3 miles, and each one of those miles was 11+. Because of that, I have been doing drills and speed workouts on the treadmill. Apparently that helped, as based on my perceived effort, I thought I was doing 11 minute miles. Turns out that I was doing consistent 10:30 minutes, and mile 4 was actually  sub 10 minute.

Today’s total run was 6.5 miles in 68 minutes

I am very happy with that.  And ecstatic about how very good I felt doing it.  My knee did ache a bit during, but not badly enough that I felt I ought to stop, and it didn’t hurt at all once I finished, even though my friend and I went shopping so that I spent the following hours running around stores. It was a little stiff after I came home and sat for a while. I guess we will see how I feel tomorrow!

Marathon??

A friend shared this with me, and I thought it worth a share here. Because, yeah, who runs a marathon and keeps it a secret?

Normally there are two kinds of runners. One is the serious, dedicated runner. Most of their friends know they run, because they put off things because they have to go for a run. Or they go out to eat with friends, but pick out things that correspond with their training. The other is the “hey, I’m a runner!!” Everyone knows they run because they share everything with everybody. No tweet or Facebook post goes by without their sneaking in a mention of how far/how fast they went or why they can’t eat that cool recipe.

I like to think I am a middle ground, myself. I do have this blog (which I consider motivation), but many people I meet don’t know I run. Or ride horses. Or am a bit of an exercise fanatic. But my close circle certainly knows, and they know when I have a race coming up because I am so very excited about it.

Not telling anyone? I don’t think I am capable of that!

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