Still running a lot. Still whining about the weather.
The past five weeks have produced mileage totals of 67, 78, 82, 82, and 82. I finally started feeling like myself again during that first week at 82, and my legs are back to feeling snappier and up to what I perceive to be normal speed. That 80 mpw area seems to be a sweet spot for me right now.
On the weekend before Valentine’s day, back when my system was on the tail-end of clearing out the post-marathon fog, I ran in a three-mile race that included an out-and-back on the beach. The experience was entirely a slog, and the sand didn’t help. I finished in 20:13, which I suppose would have put me around 21 minutes for an actual 5K.
Then, last weekend, I found out on Friday night that there was a 5K race scheduled for the next day. Naturally, I was delighted for the opportunity to race, but the extent of my race preparations entailed sleeping over at a friend’s house for a night of carousing . (Not much carousing on my part, honestly, because I’m deathly boring and hate fun.) The next morning I showed up to the race precisely 13 minutes before the gun, hastily registered, quickly pinned on my bib in a way I later realized indicated that I possess the fine motor skills of a preschooler, ran as hard as I could in the remaining time span in an attempt to warm up, and then parked myself at the start line.
I ended up finishing the race in 19:42. The course was mostly flat, with the second mile acting as an ice sheet that involved a momentum-puncturing hairpin turnaround requiring a very brief spell of walking for any individual hoping to avoid a violent meeting of her coccyx with the ground. Fittingly, I neglected to bring my ice grippers, so I tried to be especially lightfooted and deerlike in dashing along over the ice. Ended up wearing a garmin for this one, for two reasons — A. I wanted to be sure that the course was really at least 5K, and B. I knew I probably wouldn’t have anyone to race (there were two fast guys who took off early on), and my ability to focus in short races like this is quite poor. I think I went out in about 6:15, ran the icy second mile in about 6:30, and the last mile in something faster when I realized I could break 20:00 handily if I picked up my focus.
[As I rifle through some of my options for where to move next, I’m getting kind of excited about the idea of running in races with more than 20-30 people again. I used to be someone you’d never want to have near you with the finish line in sight, but here, I haven’t had the opportunity to kick any other girls down in the last 400m in a long time. On the other hand, I’m going to miss being able to run five races here for the price of one in the lower 48. And honestly, if/when I move, I’ll be sad to no longer be living in the badassest state. Because nowhere is as cool as Alaska. You know it’s true.]
Speaking of not being badass and completely failing to weather the elements, I’ve been getting into a real groove with the treadmill runs lately. Luckily, the tendinitis in my foot doesn’t make so much as a peep of pain on a clear road or a treadmill, and it’s obvious now that what aggravated it in the first place — and what continues to make it problematic — is running on snow, ice, and slush. Unfortunately, winter continues to drag on and it’s still snowing/spitting/sleeting or otherwise precipitating in some form every day.
Since I’m mentally fed up with that noise at this point, I logged an unprecedented four runs out of seven on the treadmill this week, and truthfully I loved every single one. I don’t know what it is — maybe it’s the ability to zone out and not worry about my footing, not having to carry or wear my ice grippers, not having to rein in my pace because of the ice, not having to play chicken with snowplows… on Saturday, I ran 16.5 miles on the treadmill in two hours without music and even that positively flew by. How? I don’t know. I can’t tell if I’m getting fitter or if that treadmill is just broken and lying to me, but all the sudden anything between 7.5-8.0 mph is beginning to feel suspiciously easy.
A completely unrelated final paragraph in defense of March.
I know people have mixed feelings about the month of March, but around here it’s pretty sweet because it’s finally EQUINOX MONTH. The daylight is galloping back in chunks of five minutes every day and on March 21st, I will commence bragging to any and all inhabitants of lower latitudes that I, personally, am hoarding all your daylight. And not to go all Rebecca Black obvious on you, but March is great because April, May, and June come afterwards, and those months are unreal here. They’re the clearest months of the year. I can go climb around in the avalanche chutes and pick nettles and devil’s club buds. I can go on hikes after work. I’ll start seeing salmon in the creeks and bears on my runs again. It’s going to be absolutely grand.