Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blog Envy

A few months back I met this guy Anthony in a Starbucks.  He quickly identified me as a fellow runner (the book, The Long Run, in front of me gave it away).  We struck up a conversation, I shared with him a link to my blog, and we wished each other well.
                Months later, Anthony’s name has been popping up all over the place, and in a weird twist of fate it so happens that we belong to the same running club.  Small world!  As it turns out, Anthony is like my male doppelganger.  He lives a couple towns away, we run for the same club, we run most of the same races, (although he is much faster than me) and he too has a running blog!  His blog is geared towards training for his upcoming Boston Marathon and fundraising efforts for the Alzheimer’s Foundation.  Naturally I had to check out Anthony's blog and see how it compared to mine.
                Let’s just say Anthony doesn’t take distant pictures of fuzzy llamas and post them on his blog.  His blog is polished, organized, entertaining, and the pictures are just outstanding.  This blog really puts mine to shame and made me realize I’m going to need to hire a photographer to follow me and take pictures on my behalf.  Perhaps I’ll just start running with Anthony J. 
                This morning I confided in my pal Scott about my newfound insecurities about my blog.  Scott has his own blog.  Scotty Tris is a blog about his personal journey into the world of triathlons.  I love reading his progress because he is even more neurotic than me, and I feel a little more normal after I’ve read all about his experiments with cadence, pace, calories, meters, and trainers.  Thank God I don’t do triathlons; I can’t imagine having to track performance components of not one but three sports!  Scott also has a food component to his blog, Scott Eats.  He’s quite the foodie, and posts new recipes and pictures of his creations.  So when I mentioned to Scott about Anthony’s blog (which included both running information and pictures of soup), naturally he was intrigued.  And by intrigued I mean slightly threatened.
                Scott and I browsed Anthony’s blog, marveling at the beauty of the pictures and commenting on Anthony’s training success and quick finishing times of his recent half marathons.  We were both envious and I do believe I sensed a little tone of jealousy is Scott’s voice.  Scott quickly announced that his next goal was to “out-do” Anthony’s soup pictures, which I found hysterical that he’s more jealous of the soup than the running.  In any case, reviewing Anthony’s blog made Scott and I reevaluate ours, and will no doubt cause us to step up our game.  Scott’s approach is to find a new soup recipe, and mine is to hire a photographer.  None of this, of course, will help us with our running so we may be a bit misguided with our goals, but one can’t control where the competitive juices strike. 
                So, now that I’ve shamelessly plugged these blogs, feel free to make fun of Scott’s neuroses, check out his recipes, and of course donate gobs of money to Anthony’s Alzheimer’s cause.
Moving On…
                The Boston Tune Up 15k is this weekend!  And right on cue we have another snowstorm due to arrive Friday just to make things interesting.  I went for my last run today, and will be taking Thursday and Friday off to be well rested.  (And this time, my “rest day” will not include furniture moving or any other form of heavy lifting, unlike the day before New Bedford).  Todd and I ran at lunch and he was unusually slow due to a head cold but we still managed a nice 4.5 mile run on a beautiful 50 degree day.  We speculated about what my time would be for the race, which is hard to gauge because of the unusual distance and number of hills.  My only goals are to beat last year’s time of 1:27, not finish in the bottom 10, and not puke during or immediately following the race.  (If I do, I will not have my faux-photographer capture that moment).  J
Special thanks goes to Scott for teaching me the art of including links to my blog!  Sorry I used it as a means to make fun of you J (No I’m not).

Sunday, March 27, 2011

To Heaven and Back

My quest to reenergize myself and prepare for the 15k continues.  After logging insufficient miles leading up to New Bedford, I’m getting on the right track now with some decent distances.  Today I insisted on completing a long run, so I decided to dust off a route that I haven’t done since last September when I was preparing for the Harwich Half Marathon.  This is the kind of route you can’t do in the winter because of snow banks, and because the last mile of it is a trail.  I’ve been looking forward to running this route again, and decided to go for it and take a gamble that the trail was clear.  I like this route for many reasons: It’s scenic, it has a lot of hills, it has a lot of flat sections, there’s not a lot of traffic, it’s on some of the same roads as the 15k coming up next week, and there’s no short cut home.  That’s right…when I get out on this route I better be feeling good, because there is no quick way home if things start hurting. 
                Today I learned three things about this route:
1.       My long run isn’t as long as I thought it was.  (I thought 9, it was only 7.75)
2.       It’s not easy taking pictures while running
3.       I’m terrible at sneaking up on llamas
I decided to take my phone with me for a couple reasons:
1.       My mother gets nervous when I run this loop because the roads are very rural and perfect for kidnapping sweaty people, running sweaty people off the road, and causing sweaty people to become disoriented and start wandering through the woods.
2.       Photo Op!
Since this is one of the more scenic runs, I thought it would be nice to share some of the sights I see along the way.  I take some heat sometimes for being a simple country girl that lives in the sticks, and some people can’t understand why I choose to live out here and commute 70 miles to work.  Well, besides the fact that my horse wouldn’t fit in a studio apartment, I’d be missing out on all this scenery!  My first picture is one of a horse farm.  You can’t see a lot from this photo, but supposedly on a clear night you can see Boston from here.

                Shortly past the horse farm is another farm that recently was featured as a must-see of Massachusetts tourist spots.  I love driving past this farm and seeing the llamas all standing with their heads poking over the fence, so curious about everything.  Today one of the llamas was lying down in the sun, and I tried to sneak up on him to get a picture.  That llama was no fool though, and immediately bounced to his feet when he saw me.  I hope the farmers didn’t see me.  I can’t imagine what they would be thinking, seeing a lady in a fluorescent windbreaker on their property, crouching behind their stone wall, trying to hide from their llamas. 

                I continued on, and eventually joined up with some of the roads on the 15k route next week.  Oh yes, I guess I forgot how hilly that course is!  Next week might hurt a little, but for today I took it nice and easy.  My favorite part comes after going up, up and up some more... There’s a street sign that reads, “Entering Heaven”.  Now I can’t divulge what I experienced after “crossing over”; you’d just have to see that for yourself.  Let’s just say, the climb was worth it.  J
   Shortly after passing through Heaven, I connected with the trail to head home.  I was feeling great, and I attribute this to the Gatorade Prime Carb drink I brought with me and sucked down around the 5 mile mark.  I decided that I will no longer attempt energy gels, because I just can’t seem to swallow them very well.  But this 4oz Carb drink in a nifty little pouch was easy to carry, easy to drink, and definitely seemed to give me energy for the last 3 miles.  The trail home was fun and challenging with lots of logs, roots, rocks, and patches of snow to maneuver around.  I felt great when I got back, and easily could have kept going.  My plan is to run three more times this week and then I’ll be ready for the 15k.  I’m hoping next weekend will have warmer temps, because today’s 36 degrees and blustery wind was not the warm Spring afternoon I hoped for.  I said a little prayer earlier though, while running through Heaven, so let’s see if anyone was listening.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Rejuvenation Plan

I’ve had a couple days now to reflect on my performance at the New Bedford half marathon, and while I don’t see a need to dwell on it (since it really wasn’t such a bad time), I do think there are things I can take away from it to improve going forward.  While it’s true that physically I wasn’t in ship shape, I think a greater issue was the psychological component of my training.  How often this winter did I talk about Hyannis; the training, the miles, the excitement building up to it.  I really never psyched myself up for New Bedford and I think that really impacted my approach towards the race as well as my performance on race day.  Now I am a realist, and I know I’m never going to be a fast runner, but I should at least enjoy it and feel good while I’m doing it.  The bottom line is that I just didn’t enjoy New Bedford, and I truly believe that’s a reflection of my lack of psychological preparation.  After giving it some thought, I have been very eager to get back onto the pavement, put that race behind me, and move onto more fulfilling times.  So, naturally I put a plan in place to re-energize myself.
The Rejuvenation Plan
Task 1: Get talking!
Part of what made Hyannis so exciting was the momentum leading up to it, having a couple friends to run with, and swapping war stories and training plans.  I had no comrades for New Bedford, and I didn’t really generate a lot of discussion with friends leading up to the race.  I won’t make that mistake again.  So, let’s talk about my next race!
                The next race on the docket is the Boston Tune Up 15k.  This is one of my favorite races of the year.  The race is an unusual distance and is meant as a final long-ish run for those running the upcoming Boston Marathon.  The course is mostly hills but they are fun hills (no, really!).  The scenery is rural, it’s practically in my backyard, and it happens to be sponsored by the running club that I belong to.  But honestly, my favorite aspects of the race are the personalized bibs (OMG you did this just for ME?!) and the very generous spread of food donated by members of the club.  What’s most exciting about this year’s race is that my very own mother will be volunteering at one of the water stops.  Yay Mom!
                But as far as actually “talking” about it, there probably won’t actually be a lot of dialogue with friends leading up to the race.  And here’s why.  In the average world of non-runners, here’s how the conversation would go:
Me: “Hey, I have a 15k coming up, I’m pretty psyched about it”
Non-runner: “Nice! Was it a loan? How are you going to spend it?”
Me: “Um, no… It’s not money.  It’s a race that I’m running.  I’m really looking forward to it”
Non-runner: “Oh (demonstrates clear disappointment)… So how long is it?”
Me: “15k equals 9.3 miles, so it’s a pretty good distance.  Lots of hills too.  Can’t wait!”
Non-runner: “Wow that’s a lot.  Is that a marathon?”
Me: “Um, no… a marathon is 26.2 miles.  I haven’t done one yet but I just did a half marathon last week.”
Non-runner: “Nice! How long is a half marathon?”
Me: “13.1 miles.” (Idiot)
Non-runner:  “Wow, that’s a lot.  How long is the Boston Marathon?”
You get the picture.  So, I’ll be careful about who I chat with about this race, and I’ll spend more time building momentum through blogging.  Which leads me to task number 2.
Task 2: Get Blogging!
I’m going to make it a point to blog regularly and with new material.  My new idea is to add more visual content to the blog.  Sometimes I forget people actually read the blog and I’m caught off guard when out of the blue someone says, “So have you had the ice cream yet at the ice cream stand?”  Or, “Has Pinky been back to run with you yet?”  Or, “Sorry you puked at New Bedford”.  So going forward I will try to add some pictures of some of the more regularly featured aspects of the blog.  For starters, I’m sharing the infamous ice cream stand, with the Open flag on the sign.  Since it was only 38 degrees during today’s run, we did not stop in for a cone.
The infamous ice cream stand - now open!

Task 3: Get Running!
This morning I told Todd that I felt that my recent poor performance in New Bedford was directly related to his knee injury.  He normally runs pretty fast, sprinting off in all directions, which caused me to run faster.  Every run with him turned into a bit of a speed session for me.  Since he’s been nursing his knee, he has slowed down to a more comfortable pace, which in turn has made me more complacent.  He didn’t have the same logic, and reasoned that the big bag of excuses I carry while running is what’s weighing me down.  Okay, point taken.  He sped up considerably today though, and it was a blast trying to keep up with him.
                In addition to putting in more consistent speed work, I have to get my hills back.  I have lots of hills around my house but I haven’t been running enough at home.  I have a goal to incorporate 3 hill workouts between now and the 15k.
                I think all of us have gotten in a bit of a rut with the same running routines, and it’s time to switch it up a bit.  Right on cue, Jaimee announced today she created a new route for us to try.  All we had to do was take a shortcut out the back of the parking lot and through the woods.  When we got to the “woods”, I couldn’t believe it when she started climbing this hill that went almost straight up.  We literally had to use our arms to climb up this hill, and then bushwhack our way through trees to get out to the road.  It was pretty hysterical. 

Todd & Jaimee climbing down the cliff

The route she created was lots of fun, and sure to be one of the regulars going forward.  It will be known as “Jaimee’s route”. 
Hopefully these three goals will help me get on track and back into some confidence boosting runs.  I think I’m off to a good start so far.  I’m currently accepting requests for pictures to share on the blog!  Rumor has it there’s a bagpiper that comes out in good weather. That might be worth getting on video!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Bedford – a PR in… Puking?

Today was the New Bedford Half Marathon, which I by my own admission had not trained well enough for.  Due to my sore foot and painful stomach I hadn’t logged a long run since Hyannis, so the best I could hope for was that my base would be enough to carry me most of the way, and grit would fill in the blanks. 
                Luckily I carpooled down to the race, which was great since I probably never would have found it.  The race was well organized and volunteers were ready and eager to help runners whenever needed.  What made this race different for me though is that I’m a simple country girl.  I have this weird expectation that there’s a starting line right in front of the packet pickup, along with a sprawling parking lot to store each and every one of the 2,700 runners’ cars.  New Bedford is a city, so the starting line was a couple blocks up and the parking was wherever you could find a spot.  Again, luckily I carpooled with a seasoned veteran of this race so the logistics were out of my hands. 
                It seemed that everyone from the city was out cheering on the runners.  They treat the runners like celebrities and I couldn’t help but get swept up in the excitement.  Most of the races I’ve run have very few spectators, so this was my first glance at what a big race feels like.  Now I see why people are so obsessed with Boston and NYC.  I wish I could say that my performance wowed the crowds, but today was just not the day.  The course itself was interesting and the scenery definitely helped pass the time.  Yesterday when I mentioned to someone I was running in New Bedford his reaction was, “Where will you be packing your gun?”  I had wondered the same exact thing.  Indeed, shortly after the start of the race we went through some questionable sections and passed pawn shops, thrift stores, and even a church set up in a strip mall (prayer needs no steeple apparently).  But there were also beautiful sections, and a very scenic stretch along the ocean with piers and lighthouses. 
                My body just wouldn’t cooperate with me today and it was pretty frustrating.  Knowing that I wasn’t in top condition, I expected to have to work a little hard and feel a little soreness.  But today, I had nothing in the tank.  Even starting the race I didn’t have energy.  I started off slow, at about a 9:20 pace, and expected to maintain that until after the first big hill (around mile 4) and then pick up speed to an 8:30-8:40.  Unfortunately I just didn’t have it in me to pick up the pace, and the best I could do was about a 9:00.  I started feeling nauseous around the 9 mile mark, which came in waves, and got pretty unbearable at the 12 mile mark (which coincided with a tooth-kicker of a hill).  I had to talk myself up that hill literally one step at a time, while trying to control whatever was going on in my stomach.
                I finished the race in 2:02, which is my slowest half marathon.  Although I wasn’t thrilled with my time, I wasn’t really disappointed either because the two hills on the course were bigger than anything I had in my previous half’s.  My only real frustration stemmed from my nausea, which got progressively worse after the race.  I had been really looking forward to sampling the fish chowder available to the runners after the race, but instead I was trying to hold in the water I had just gulped down. 
                We left immediately after the race, where I turned green and had cold sweats all the way back home.  (Actually, I wasn’t sweating because I had nothing left to sweat, but if I could sweat, I would have been clammy).  My poor pal Hiroshi thought for sure I was going to make a mess all over his car.  I’m pretty sure I won’t be invited to carpool again anytime soon!  I got sick the minute I walked in my door, and then after that I felt pretty good.  I had a small dinner, but there was no post-race victory, no celebratory wining and dining this time around.   I’m sure I will spend the next two months analyzing what caused my stomach to get into such a tizzy.  I ate my normal pre-half marathon breakfast (3/4 cup fat free cottage cheese and 4 oz black coffee) three hours before the race, and a snack (20 almonds, 2 Tums, and 8 oz water) two hours before the race.  My mother thinks I ate too many almonds.  I think that’s possible, and maybe I didn’t drink enough water.  Maybe today just wasn’t my day.  On a positive note, the rest of my body held up wonderfully.  No foot soreness, no muscle soreness, and as a bonus I got my first sunburn of the year!  (Yes, you can get a sunburn when it’s 35 degrees!) 
                I’ll be taking a couple days off from running and replacing it with yoga and kettlebells.  Then I’ll be back on the pavement, vowing to train harder and seeking out all sorts of advice on pre-race food for the weak of stomach.  Maybe I’ll sample the advice each day before my lunchtime run with my buddies.  I’m sure they would love to be witnesses to this experiment! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The signs of Spring!

Spring is in the air here in New England!  After endless complaints of the cold and snow, today was a picture perfect – and might I add – well deserved Spring day.  (Must be the luck o’ the Irish!)  I have been hiding from my Asics and avoiding looking other runners in the eyes over the last week, and have not run even once since – gasp – a week ago.  I realize I’m taking a huge gamble on this, with a half marathon coming up on Sunday, but with my foot and my stomach getting progressively crankier over the last week I felt I needed to scale back a bit.  Well… scale back I did!  At this time last month, while complaining about the weather, I had accumulated about 60 miles.  Today, I’m up to 30.  I knew it was critical that I got in a decent run today if I had any chance of completing the half on Sunday, and at some point I had to dust off my foot and see how it held up.  With temperatures in the 50’s, today was the perfect day to give it a shot.
                Todd, Kerri and I were supposed to run together at lunch but at the last minute Todd bailed (for some “work related” conference call – this is the first evidence of Todd actually “working” since I met him in December).  Luckily Old Reliable was still up for a run, so Kerri and I headed out on our favorite Ice Cream stand route.   Technically Spring doesn’t begin until Sunday, but today for us was the official start to Spring.  Here’s why:
·         Today marked the first day we traded in our full length running tights for running Capri’s.  A small change to some, but to me having my ankles exposed felt like I was running around half naked.  (Not to mention my pasty ankles would no doubt blind some drivers).
·         The roads were so crowded with runners and walkers it was akin to running an organized race.  Part of me expected to see an aid station on the way back.
·         The driving range was open!  The driving range is adjacent to the ice cream stand, and from a good distance we could hear the unmistakable strike of the golf ball and the subsequent crackle as the ball ricocheted between trees after taking a sharp slice off the tee. 
·         It’s still unclear if the actual ice cream stand was open but we once again confirmed our future Summer plans to someday stop in for a cone during our run.  
As we headed back to the building, we were honked and waved at by a guy on a motorcycle, who I’m pretty sure was mesmerized by our exposed ankles.  Seems even the motorcyclists have a touch of the Spring Fever. 
                For all the preparation that had gone into training for Hyannis, I have done surprisingly little for New Bedford.  There have been no dress rehearsals, and no time spent fretting over directions, pre-race foods, or energy gels.  At this point there’s nothing I can do to improve my fitness so hopefully the base I had developed for Hyannis will be enough to get me through this race.  And if that’s not enough, maybe the Luck O’ the Irish will carry me through!  J
(In the interest of full disclosure… I’m only a wee bit o’ Irish.  But it’s Saint Patrick’s Day, so why not jump on the bandwagon.  Plus, it’s way cooler than say… Bastille Day.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The new recruit

The usual running cronies are all back to normal routines.   Jaimee’s marathon training is in full swing, Todd’s IT band is slowly recovering from his half marathon, my cranky foot has held up pretty well, and Kerri is just as consistent and agreeable as ever.  Chris’s initial enthusiasm for group running has faded, but he assures me that he is running at home and looking forward to upcoming races.  By now we’ve been running together for a few months and we’ve developed certain routines, relationships, and behaviors that can only accrue over time.  This makes me very happy, because as an extremely structured and slightly OCD person with a strong aversion to surprises, I thrive on comfortable routines.  If you remember back a few months ago, I had a tough time adjusting to a “group run” because I liked my solo routine.  Now I can’t imagine running without the usual suspects during the week.
                Todd had enough sense to realize my sensitivity towards our cozy little club, so last week he started gently planting the idea that a new recruit might start running with us.  He mentioned this so casually, saying more than likely she wouldn’t show up anyways, but the offer was open.  Todd is the exact opposite of me.  Where I thrive on the comfortable sameness, he thrives on excitement and changes.  I immediately felt threatened by this announcement and I’ve been dreading the day the new recruit shows up.  As it turns out, today was the day.
                Right on time, the new recruit showed up to the locker room.  While we waited for her, I turned to Todd with my mouth wide open.  Really Todd?  A supermodel?  Was it really necessary to recruit a yoga-instructor-blond-bombshell into our running club?  You couldn’t have recruited one of the GQ-looking-perfectly-sculpted men from Marketing for me?  As my one passive aggressive tactic, I made Todd and Jaimee promise me and swear on their spandex that they would not tell Miss Perfect about my running blog.  As much as I disliked the change up in our running group, I at least had to acknowledge the benefit of it in terms of new blog material.  I had a feeling I would be exploiting it to the fullest.  Sure enough, moments later she emerged from the locker room looking perky and perfect in her pink running outfit and shiny shoes.
                We hit the pavement for our 3.5 mile route, and Pinky casually mentioned that she hadn’t run in 8 months but she’d try to keep up as best as she could.  At that point I actually felt a little bad for her, since a 3.5 mile run is a pretty aggressive running debut.  Against my nature, I ran with her for a while and gave her some insight (such as, don’t bother trying to keep up with Todd).  We chatted for a while, and after about a half a mile I realized she was no threat, no enemy, and dare I say even a breath of fresh pink air into our running club.  She slowed down to a walk for a while, and Todd checked in with her to make sure she could get back to the building ok.  (Even I’m not mean enough to drag someone down the street and make them get lost for hours on their lunch break, get locked out of the secret back door entrance, and lose their job).  (Although, now I will keep that tactic in mind).  
                Jaimee and I continued on, and as Todd was catching back up to us we were discussing Jaimee’s recent 10 mile race in which she had to pee the whole time and couldn’t find a discreet enough location on the  course, so with no other choice she just chugged along and held it in as best she could.  (Since this is not Jaimee’s blog, and Jaimee does read this blog, I will forgo any additional pee-related detail of this story).  It did remind me though how just before the run I had eaten a banana and Todd commented on how our runs are entertaining because it’s a constant question of whether I will be puking myself or pooping myself.  (For the record, I have not once puked, pooped, or peed myself while running.  Yet.)  Then I got to thinking, if Todd had a blog (which he does) about running (which he doesn’t), here’s what my guess is he would have included in today’s blog:
·         Recruited a new hot babe.  Sweet!
·         I wonder if there will be a girl fight.  Sweet!
·         The new hot babe is slowing down and feeling vulnerable.  I’ll swoop in like the gentleman and slowly usher her back to the building.
·         Jaimee and I have a standing bet on Jill’s stomach (puke versus poop).  The kitty is getting pretty high, maybe that pre-run banana will be my golden egg
·         What I wouldn’t give to be in that locker room
By the time we reached the building, Pinky was out of sight but Todd went back for her.  She really seemed to enjoy the run and wasn’t discouraged at being left behind.  She actually was very fun to talk to, with a bubbly personality to match her pink sweatshirt and I admit it would be fun having her join us again.  Maybe one of these days if she sticks with it, I’ll even tell her about my silly little blog.  When that day comes, I can only hope someone will remind me to delete this post first! J

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Honeymoon's over, back to the grind!

As much as I had been looking forward to Hyannis, I had worried about the after effects.  When I ran a half marathon in the fall, I had finished strong and could have run again the next day if it hadn’t been for the painful groin pull that had me sidelined for three weeks.  In preparation for Hyannis I tried to listen to my body better to know when to stopping pushing.   Although I had complained all winter long about the lousy running conditions, it may have been a blessing in disguise that I had more cross training and less wear and tear out on the roads.  Immediately following my finish in Hyannis I had felt a mild pain in my Achilles.  It only hurt periodically on certain steps, and with nothing to pinpoint, I just iced the general area.  For two days following the half marathon my body was tired but not in any sort of pain.  I even did a kettlebell workout on Monday!  Of course, I also took advantage of some post-half-marathon indulgences.  Such as, yes I will have that extra beer, I earned it today!  Sure I can eat that pizza, I just ran a half marathon yesterday!  Chocolate? Why not!  I earned it when I ran that half marathon last weekend!  Yes, it was clear that I needed to get back to a routine, and thinking about my next running event.
By Wednesday I was back running with the group at work, although it may have been a day too soon because that periodic pain in my Achilles started to flare up again.  We did a slow 3.5 mile run (actually I was the only slow one, and lost sight of the rest of the group for much of the run).  On Thursday I had decided to test it out again on a 4.5 mile run at lunch.  We were all completely nuts for running.  It was less than 20 degrees, windy, and frigid.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold running in my life.  Our normal 4.5 route is an out-and-back, with the turnaround point being at an ice cream stand.  We decided that one day this summer we are going to run to the ice cream stand and actually eat an ice cream, and then walk back.  Ice cream seemed like such a foreign concept at that moment, since I would have preferred a hot bowl of chowder.  My foot held up ok, with occasional flare ups.  I decided to take a couple more days off and reevaluate. 
Normally when I have to take time off of running, I incorporate other forms of exercise as cross training.  In better weather I’m out mountain biking, but this time of year the cross training comes in the form of different machines and classes at the gym.  Unfortunately over the last couple of days, my work schedule has gotten in the way of each of the classes I had planned to attend, so the only non-running activity I managed to get in this week was 30 minutes of kettlebell at home.  (My goal is to someday return to the kettlebell class at the gym, and be able to walk upright at the end of the class).
Today I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to go running.  It was an unusually mild 50 degrees this morning with gusty wind, and with a heavy rainstorm headed towards us I knew I had a small window of time to sneak in a run.  With the snow banks and lousy road conditions, I hadn’t been able to do one of my favorite local 5.6 mile loops all winter.  I looked back in my running log and realized the last time I ran this loop was on Christmas Eve, the day I decided to count Christmas wreaths hanging on houses.  A full 10 weeks had gone by since then, and I was eager to get back to my familiar run. 
The route seemed different than I remembered it.  The awful 3 minute steep hill climb only took about 2 and a half minutes this time (although I was still gasping for air by the time I got to the top).  The roads were different, uglier.  They were full of sand and debris from all the storms, and I spent a fair amount of time dodging puddles, thick streams of running water, and litter.  My footfalls sounded like I was marching on sandpaper, and the frost heaves added another layer of complexity to my strategy of trying to keep my foot on a flat surface.  Water ran down the sides of the roads, and snow banks still occupied the sidewalks, so my only choice in some spots was to run close to the middle of the road.   Luckily it was pretty early on a Sunday morning and traffic was light.  On such a beautiful morning, I would have expected a lot more foot traffic.  I thought for sure I’d be meeting up with runners on every street, all as anxious and eager as me to hit the pavement on this spring-like day.  Surely they all have the same level of cabin fever as me.  Oddly enough, I never saw another runner.  I never even saw Brown Dog, or the horses Pedlar and Skip.  In fact, the only people I saw were two kids playing in the snow in their tee shirts and shorts.  (You know it’s New England when you wear a tee shirt and shorts to go play in the snow when it’s 50 degrees).  I enjoyed the run, even without any company, and finished in a respectable time.  I was quite pleased that my foot held up well throughout the run.
Hard to believe, but my next half marathon – New Bedford – is only two weeks from today.  I’ve never run the course before but I’ve heard there are a couple sizeable hills, which I can’t really say I’m looking forward to.  I’ve never run two big races so close to each other before so I don’t know the best approach.  I think for the next two weeks I will stick to my usual weekly mileage, try to incorporate a little more cross training at the gym, and one long run next weekend.  Weather in March in New England can be anything from snow to 70 degrees so this will be a tough one to predict.  I better start my dress rehearsals!