I've haven't run again since 12/26 and don't plan to run again until next weekend. Instead, I've been hitting the weights and bike at the gym--which is turning out to be pretty fun. I always neglect crosstraining: I tend to skip those days on the training schedule (the justification being that I already did the important parts of the training week so I can skip the slightly less important crosstraining). Yesterday, though, I was flying away on the bike like Lance Armstrong and having a blast. And just like with the treadmill, when someone got on the machine next to me I got all competitive: "You think you can out bike me? Fool. I've run 26.2 miles, I can kick your ass at anything...probably. I'll spank your ass to next Tuesday."
I forgot, though, that you can get sore really easily from doing new exercises. So dismounting the bike was a tragedy. My ass hurt like you would not believe. Rather, more that I would believe it should hurt after 50 minutes.
I also realized how many calories running burns in comparison to biking. At the end of 50 minutes, I had burned 530 calories according to the machine (yes, I know that's just an estimate, but go with me here). If I had done 50 minutes on the treadmill I would have burned somewhere in the range of 800-900 calories. Sheesh, I almost feel like a slacker.
So I'm off running for a bit, even though Austin is looming over me like a dark cloud. The good news is that even if I can't run on race day, I get a bag of 3M goodies (Post-its, Scotch tape, etc.) with a estimated value of $55--$5 more than the race entry fee.
I consulted my doctor (read: runnersworld.com) and the diagnosis is that I have IT Band Syndrome. The bad part is that I have to cut down running in order to bring down the inflamation. The good part is that it happens to runners of all experience levels and is easily treated.
So right as I'm supposed to peak in training for the Austin Half-Marathon I have to cut back my mileage. With so much stuff going on with work and the holidays maybe it's good that I have to reduce my training. The funny thing is that the training for this race has been plagued with injuries from the start. First there was Footgate--which still hasn't healed 100%. Now this. Maybe I'll develop an allergy to Gatorade just to round off the difficulties.
So here's perhaps the coolest race concept ever: get a bunch of people who have never met, who live in different parts of the country, and who all have different running abilities, to run the same distance on one day and call it a race. Great idea, huh? Unfortunately, I can't take credit for it, this was all Nancy's idea.
It was a cloudly and cold 36 degrees when I went out for the race. This Florida boy still gets freaked out every winter when the thermostat drops below 40 in December. The only good thing about the race was that there was no breeze--unlike last weekend's run which featured a 20 mph headwind/endorphin killer.
I showed up to the starting line. Got some stretches in, sized up to competition (i.e., the little Asian lady selling pastel drawings of Al Pacino in Scarface), and look my place at the back corner of Grand Army Plaza in Central Park. The race course was designed to be a tour of Central Park, going for the big loop around the park, adding in a lap around the Resevior and a quick run by the castle, ending at the NY Marathon finish line.
Since there was no one to shoot the starting gun or give thanks to the 5,000 sponsors that make this race possible, I was kinda lost when it came to starting the race. However, there was one split second when I managed to obscure the fact that it was freezing and that my stomach felt horrible--in that split second I hit start on my watch and off I went, completely forgeting to turn on my iPod. About one minute later I turn them on.
It had been a while since I had run through Central Park. Last time there were still leaves on the trees and I was running shorts (cold, but in shorts nonetheless). Now, three weeks after that run, the trees were completely bare. All color had been washed away into the gray drab of winter. The barren trees looked like giant clusters of nerve endings, almost like brains without the gray matter.
When I hit the main roadway, I realized that this would be a lonely race. The cold weather filtered all the, um, "less intense runners," leaving me to fend with the die-hard, would-PR-during-a-snowstorm kind of runners. That also meant that I was chicked and even--gasp--geriatricked several times during the race. Ouch. Ouch and a half. But I kept going on.
Actually injected some walking breaks when my stomach felt particularly bad or when I noticed that I was going way too fast. I've grown to really hate walking breaks, but in training for Austin I've been trying to ease up on my long runs so that I don't burn out in the first half of a run--all in hopes of avoiding a repeat of Baltimore. I've seen the benefits of this method, but it is almost as hard to hold back as it is easy to burn out.
The race goes on without much note. No cheering crowds, just the occasional runner passing me and me getting a little pissed off. I noticed the severe lack of course support, but the fact that I was the only one on the course made up for it (a little).
I finished 10 miles in 1:27:20--so an 8:43 pace. Considering that I went for the extra two mile challenge, I'm pretty happy.
But anywho, onto running.
It has been soooo long since I've done a long run. Since MY FIRST MARATHON EVER! the most I've run in one shot is six miles. Yesterday I did nine and oh did I quickly remember how hard it is.
I almost did a gym run because it was 33 degrees/feels like 22 when I woke yesterday. But I told myself "self, you've gone out running during a blizzard before, this is nothing." Well, I was right being able to run outside in this weather, I was wrong about it being nothing. This was my first legit cold weather run: I had to bust out the skully, gloves, and (gasp) track pants for this one. And even then, one mile into the run, I made a left turn and started heading West--right into the 20 mph winds coming straight from Canada. (Damn Canucks!)
On top of the blustery conditions, I had to get used to breathing the cold air. I don't know about you, but my body does not like getting cold air inside of it when it's freezing. So I would catch myself taking swallow breaths and having to force myself to breathe deeply, even though it was icy dry air.
Needless-to-say, this run did not go over too well. When I got home I looked at my time: ten min/mile (my goal was 8:45). The only good news was that I had made a wrong turn during my run. When I recalculated my route it turns out I ran an extra .5 miles, which lowered my pace to 9:29. Better--not great, but better. God I've forgotten how hard it is to get back on this horse.