I was so excited – yesterday it was nearly 70 degrees. In February!
Now I don’t mind so much running in the cold, I can bundle up for that, but it’s more a matter of not wanting to take any chances on ice. You know the saying about the bigger they are, the harder they fall? Well, I still can’t fully straighten out my elbow because of the last good fall I took. I know, I know, it’s a really stupid idea to fully extend your arms to try to break a fall. But something about descending towards the ground at a high rate of speed has a way of making you forget common sense stuff like that. So anyway, you read back far enough on this blog and you know that I’ve been fanatical about making sure my form is good, making sure I’m not doing stupid stuff to hurt myself and keep myself sidelined for long periods of time. Not running on ice that can make me fall and go Boom (with emphasis) is, I think, a pretty good part of that plan.
So yesterday was… GLOR-EEEEE-USSSS!!! (Or glorious if you prefer proper spelling). I was so tired of doing tiny lap after tiny lap after tiny lap. I was set for a 7 mile run – and 7 miles at 17 laps per mile equals pretty near insanity. Not nearly as bad as the dreadmill – and it’s scary that I’ve actually kind of enjoyed it maybe because it feels like it’s broken down into chunks a bit more, but the thing is one of the wonderful things about running in Colorado is you are running in Colorado for gosh sakes. Rafters and a birds eye view of people playing dodge ball on the gym below doesn’t quite fit that concept. So it was awesome to finally get out.
But you know what you get when you get a gorgeous Sunday afternoon after a long enough cold spell? Everyone else and their dog out running as well. Literally. There were people. And dogs. And more people. And people running 4 wide on a path that’s really maybe wide enough for 3 – with people going both ways. And every imaginable running outfit.
Let me just say… I have to wonder whether some women get pretty beat up from running. Now somewhere else I’m thinking that some other runner from Denver is blogging about that poor guy they saw who’s gotta be hurting today from that big old gut bouncing around so much. Fair enough.
And no it doesn’t hurt. In case you’re wondering. And I think that’s progress maybe because even though it’s a very crowded park it’s pretty much impossible for a guy like me to hold in his gut while running for a full 7 miles. That just takes too much energy. Not that I speak from experience or anything. Though I suppose it’s not much different than trying to hold it all in because I stubbornly passed by that last porta-potty because I didn’t want to wait in line.
I thought of other places to run. But this place has a good composite track, it’s a 2 and a half mile loop. It’s the perfect distance for stopping by my car as a water stop.
Truth is, even with all the people.. and the dogs… and the bouncing body parts… and the slightly muddy (but fortunately not slippery muddy) patches on the north side… and all the people… it was still much better that going round. and round. and round. and round (you get the idea).
We won’t talk about time. Yes, I’m still pacing myself based on heart rate. Those last couple miles I had to slow to a walk a number of times to keep where I want to be. It’s amazing, it feels like it takes more discipline now to actually make myself slow down than it does to keep running, because I. WANT. TO. RUN. But if I’m going to give this heart rate training a full chance, I have to stick to it.
But here’s the thing that’s amazing. I felt incredible. I’ve never felt incredible all the way through a run this long, even during ones that I walked a fair bit. I’m used to starting to feel the tank running empty before the 7 miles hits. And all the sugary stuff or gels or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the past have maybe helped a little, temporarily, but then I’d go through these highs and lows really mess with you after awhile. Yesterday I didn’t eat a thing. Between warmup and cool down and waiting in line at the porta potty and the 7 miles, I was out there more than 2 hours (please don’t do the math because I told you I don’t want to talk about time). And from an energy standpoint I felt about as good at the end as I did at the beginning.
So the gold standard test for me on how I’m feeling is how well I can go up and down steps afterwards. My right ankle always stiffens just a little after long runs like this. It comes down to being not as flexible due to a break/sprain years ago. When it’s really stiffened up, that’s when the stair hobble becomes a bit of a circus, stepping up with my good foot, then bringing my second foot up to the same step… kinda painstaking. Last night I’m walking down the stairs normally. Hmmmm…. yeah, I still could feel it a little in my ankle but, it was more like after a two mile run, not seven. Then this morning, getting up I wasn’t doing my normal post-long-run Frankenstein hobble because of how rigor mortis sets in on the legs overnight.
So… good energy all the way through, less stiffness, better recovery.
Maybe something’s working right?