Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My first club run, and the marvels of technology

Yesterday I found out why being in a running club is so cool.  I originally started running about two years ago and after building up some endurance and learning some tips from Kerri, I primarily ran solo.  I always enjoyed the solitude as it gave me some much needed “me time” and was an endless source of sightseeing, daydreaming, and occasional mind games.  For a good six months now, I’ve been running regularly with my awesome lunch runners at work, and I genuinely look forward to having company out on the roads.
                Last fall I decided to join a running club for a few reasons.  I wanted to meet other runners, gain some good insight, and have a reason to stay motivated.  Late fall was probably the wrong time of year to join a running club, because there wasn’t a whole lot of activity over the winter months.  But as the weather got better I started attending some of the races, the last few member meetings, and I’ve done some volunteer work.  As I suspected all along, runners are a great group of people.  Everyone is so friendly and we all share a common interest.  No need to talk about the weather, because there’s never a shortage of conversation when you pull a bunch of runners together!  (Although we do, occasionally, talk about the weather.  But only as it relates to running!)  My club, the Tri-Valley Front Runners, holds a fun run every Monday night and last night was my first time attending.   What a blast!  I made quick friends with a couple girls and we had lots of fun trotting the 3 mile loop together while chit chatting.  At the end of the loop I was tempted to run again, but decided against it since I had already run 4 miles at lunch.  I felt that 7 was enough for one day, considering my aching hip.  I’m hoping next Monday I can get 2 loops in though, because I’m really going to need to pack a lot of miles into next week with my half marathon coming up.  And make no mistake about it, I will be back next Monday! The girls already made me promise to come back, and I’m not about to break a promise to my new club pals!
                On the hip front, I’m starting to become an unruly patient.  I know that logically I should be resting and giving it a chance to heal, but the goal-oriented runner inside me is pushing for higher mileage.  This dichotomy is further complicated because my MRI has still not been scheduled.  I called the doctor’s office today to see what the holdup was, and apparently my insurance company has not approved the procedure.  It infuriates me that despite what a doctor orders, the insurance company that I’m required to pay for can refuse to cover tests.  I’m hoping it will get approved soon, but in the meantime it has turned me into a bit of a renegade.  For example, the following thought flowed through my brain repeatedly today, “Oh, my hip isn’t bad enough to qualify for an MRI?  FINE!  I’ll just run until my leg rips off!  How’s THAT!?”  Yeah, I’m sure that’ll show them.  So, today on my lunch run I did a solo 3.6 mile run at home, and for the first time in a couple weeks I inched my pace up to race pace (actually a little faster).  The first mile was slow, but the second was 8:36 and the third at 8:22.  I was happy to be moving out and testing my breathing a bit.  It was nice to feel like I was working hard but not feeling depleted.  If I didn’t feel like my leg was going to fall out of my hip, it would have been a perfect run.  When I got back home I stood in front of my garden checking out my plants for a minute before walking into the house, and when I went to move I couldn’t seem to get my leg moving.  I’m sure my temper tantrum induced lunch run was not what the doctor ordered and contributed to my prolonged pain but as I’ve said, I’m becoming a bit unruly.  This isn’t, of course, the first dumb thing I’ve ever done.  Once I had a stress fracture in my foot and the doctor said absolutely no running for a minimum of 6 weeks.  I tried negotiating with him since Hyannis was in 6 weeks.  He wouldn’t budge, and told me Hyannis was absolutely not going to happen.  So, four and a half weeks later I was back on the road and made it to Hyannis.  I really showed him!!  Of course, my foot has never been the same and threatens me every time I start to increase mileage too aggressively.  Maybe it’s a blessing that the MRI hasn’t been scheduled yet since I might be facing the same fate on a larger scale, since I have a half marathon just two weeks away.
                In other news, I’m starting to become much more tech-savvy.  In fact, after a full year of owning my Garmin Forerunner 305, I have now learned how to put the data online to share with people.  It was actually very complicated.  I had to:
1.       Go to the Garmin website
2.       Click “upload”
You can see how this was confusing.  Once I mastered this skill, I started putting some of my routes into Google maps.  Unfortunately, until about a week ago I didn’t know how to record mile splits on the Garmin.  I was only able to get averages for the entire distance.  When I told Hiroshi this, he told me I had to change the settings.  So, after exhaustive research I learned how to update the setting to record splits:
1.       Go to Settings
2.       Press Auto Lap – 1 mile
Voila!  Now I have splits.  So, some of my newest routes have individual mile data, and the older ones from my rookie days (like, anything prior to last week), only have averages for the entire run.  I have been rather lazy about bringing my Garmin running with me lately, especially for well known routes that I have the mileage memorized, but the ability to analyze individual splits is just too tempting to pass up!  That Garmin is going everywhere with me from now on!  I’m seriously considering using it for other activities.  For example, I could compare my pace through the soup aisle at the grocery store against my pace down the ice cream aisle.  Meat aisle versus seafood counter.  Dunkin Donuts drive-thru’s.  The possibilities are endless! 
Now that I have access to this magical technology, I wanted to share a couple of my routes.  Click on the links to see what I’ve been up to the last couple days!
See?  Magic!

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