Monday, August 3, 2009

Crowd Support/Evening Runner

I've pretty much come to the conclusion that early morning running on weekdays, just isn't for me. I tend to hit snooze too many times or reset the alarm clock and either don't have enough time to run at all when I get up, or have to cut my goal distance short because I got up too late. And on those rare days that I actually get up when the alarm sounds, I've had challenges with bonking. My body needs adequate fuel to run and a cup of juice or a gel just isn't enough to get me through 4-6 miles and eating something more substantial requires a mid-run pit-stop. Since I'm trying to get back into the training groove since there are only 10 more weeks until the marathon. After I reset my alarm clock twice this morning I vowed I would run this evening. NO EXCUSES. Driving home from work, after leaving a voicemail for Gordon of Running to Disney Podcast fame, I started thinking about how/when I used to run, many years ago, sheerly for the exercise/stress relief/enjoyment. Thinking back I realized that the majority of my runs were in the evening. I can remember running in the dark by moonlight much more often than runs at 5 a.m. And now that I'm writing this, I don't think I've ever run at 5 a.m. until this latest Chicago Marathon training schedule. When I used to run simply for fun, I recall a few times that I would get up early to run simply so I could watch the sun rising over the ocean (which doesn't happen at 5 a.m.). I remember years ago my neighbor tried to get me into walking with her and another neighbor at 5 a.m. I just couldn't commit to that crazy schedule (not to mention that I'd rather run than walk).

I worked late today since my daughter is with her dad. (I tend to leave the office early when she's with me so it balances out.) I arrived home around 7:30 p.m., changed into running clothes, consumed a vanilla Clif shot, and put the harnesses on the dogs. I've been trying to figure out what mileage is good for them. I used to occassionally take them on 2-3 mile runs (about once a month) and that was too much. So I took the advice of Chris Russell, hit reset, and started with shorter distance. One loop around my block is one mile. I tried this first (weeks ago) and they were still pulling me at the end. Last week I added a side cul-de-sac and they still had energy. The next time I added yet another side cul-de-sac to total 1.44 miles and shortly after 1 mile, they weren't pulling anymore, but seemed fine at the end. So tonight I added one more cul-de-sac for a total of 1.56 miles. This may have been too much. They slowed significantly at one mile and instead of them pulling me, I was encouraging one of them in the end. (Tasha, 5-yr-old husky mix was lagging; Riley, 1-yr-old golden still happily jogging). Not sure if it was the heat/humidity or if they're just still tired from yesterday's trail run. I'll give them a rest day tomorrow.

After 1.56 miles with the dogs, I dropped them off at home. After removing their harnesses and making sure they had plenty of water, I went outside and repeated that same route. I decided that since my average pace for the year is much slower than my goal for the year, that I would try to pick up the pace. I wanted a sub-12 minute average for this run. After the 2-mile beep said 12:09 (slower than my first mile), I flipped my Garmin 405 display to the total run average pace. I kept a close eye on it to make sure it stayed under 12 minutes. As I was exiting the second cul-de-sac, Wendy was driving home and she yelled "GO SAMANTHA!" out of her car window. I smiled and waved at this great pre-race crowd support! (She and DeeDee are going to Chicago with us but won't be running, just cheering.) Then on the next cul-de-sac, Susan and Sandy were outside and yelled encouragement. From that point on I knew the terrain was all downhill. I was at 11:41 average pace. I picked up speed in hopes of achieving 11:27 average pace since 27 is my lucky number. I hit 11:27 average about a tenth of a mile before home and then it dropped to 11:26. At first, I slowed down because I thought it would be cool to finish at 11:27 pace. But then I realized that was my OCD kicking in and I shouldn't slow down for a number. I picked the pace back up and ultimately finished with an average pace of 11:25 minutes per mile on a 3.09 mile run. Yay! It's not fast, by any means, but it's better than my goal average, so I'm happy.

So I've concluded that running in the evening is so much better for me than early mornings on weekdays. That last loop of crowd support from neighborhood friends cheering me on gave me an awesomely spontaneous boost! Plus, when I think back to when I just ran for fun, those evening runs come to the forefront.

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