Caught in the rain

When Dan and I moved to the city almost 6 years ago, we fell into an unofficial tradition of taking Sunday walks in the fall and winter. It was a good way to explore our new neighborhood, get some exercise, and have some time together. Over the years, that tradition has morphed from just going on a walk to going on a walk to a deli and getting lunch. We haven’t been home much on the weekends lately, so this past Sunday was really the first such walk we’ve taken this season.

The sun was bright, the sky was clear, and it was almost 70 degrees. Walking to the deli was a no-brainer. As we set out, I commented on how warm it was. It’s about 1.5 miles to the deli, and around the halfway point the wind seriously picked up. It was the kind of wind that flings dust and leaves into your eyes and stings your shins with debris. As I looked up, I saw it: a huge, ominous cloud, rapidly traveling toward us.

At first, it was a refreshing sprinkle. Nothing too intense, just enough to cool us off. But then the rain started coming down harder, the wind became violent, and, within a minute or so, we were soaked to the skin. Blocks from the deli, no shelter to be had.

I couldn’t stop laughing.

It reminded me of the crazy weather we’d get when we lived in New Orleans. My brother and I would take our giant golf umbrellas outside and jump up in the air, hoping the wind would carry us away.

Getting caught in that storm made me feel like a little kid again. My one and only worry was just trying to escape the rain. It was so simple, a problem with minimum consequences that could be easily solved.

We got to the deli in record time, sopping wet and ready for some food… and a beer.

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Yes, this was all for us. Yes, we ate it all.

By the time we ate and finished our beers, we’d gone from soaked to damp. The sky couldn’t have been clearer on the walk home, and we were dry by the halfway point. It was like none of it had ever happened.

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A tree in our neighborhood that blew over during the storm. I told you, it was windy!

This year has been pretty stressful for us, but I’m hoping that 2013 will be kind of like that storm. Intense, but over fairly quickly. It might leave behind a little damage, but nothing that can’t be fixed. And maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll feel like kids again for a minute.

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Not a training recap

I won’t bore you guys too much with the stuff I have/haven’t been doing re: my training plan. It’s been a little spotty the past few weeks, as my ankle injury from a moving mishap over Memorial Day weekend (yes, that long ago) has been flaring up.

I missed 2 significant long runs because my ankle was in such bad shape: a 12-miler and 16-miler. After going to a few doctors, it looks like I did actually do some damaged when my ankle was smashed by that piano. It seems as though I tore some smaller ligaments that healed funny, and now my ankle doesn’t have enough stability when I run. Luckily, taping up my foot really helps, and I have a few PT sessions set up to try and sort everything out. Because taping my foot has been so beneficial, my doctor is recommending some custom orthotics, which will hopefully be here in about 2 weeks. Not ideal, but better than a “no run” order!

For weeks 11 and 12 of training, I mostly stuck to the bike and elliptical with a few run/walks in there. Nothing worth writing home about. For week 13, I did a fair amount of walking but didn’t manage much gym time. Honestly, I was defeated and feeling pretty sorry for myself. Not a great thing when you’re trying to accomplish a goal that requires motivation and consistency.

Before all of that nonsense, I had registered for McKendree University’s Harvest Challenge “half” marathon (actual distance: 13.25, not the standard 13.1 miles). It fell on a weekend that my training plan called for 18 miles, and I thought it’d be nice to have some course support for a good chunk of that run. Plus the registration was less than $37, including Active.com service fees. After the issues with my ankle and significantly lighter training the past few weeks, I decided to just try and make it through the race and not tack on my extra miles. Turns out, that was a smart decision.

I had been dreading this “race” all week. Like I said, I was feeling defeated and I really didn’t know how/if I’d be able to make my way through it. It was weighing heavily on my mind and putting me in a terrible mood (sorry, everyone). We drove out to Lebanon, Ill., the night before and crashed at the Drury in O’Fallon (thanks, Dad!). I slept like a baby and woke up at 6 a.m. to get ready and eat breakfast. By the time we got to the university for packet pick-up around 7:15, it was 70ish degrees and 97% humidity. It only got worse from there.

This about sums it up.

This about sums it up.

The entire course was through farmland. Mostly corn fields. At one point, we ran past a place housing a bunch of thoroughbred horses, which was pretty cool.

The scenery for roughly 11 of the 13.25 miles of the race. Fields, fields, more fields, and no shade whatsoever.

The scenery for roughly 11 of the 13.25 miles of the race. Fields, fields, more fields, and no shade whatsoever.

This was a TOUGH race. Even if I’d had better training leading up to it, it would have been really difficult. Everyone I talked to was resigned to just trying to get through the thing. It was relentlessly muggy, and there wasn’t a single patch of shade to be found on the course between miles 1.5 and 12. Really, really tough. Not to mention, the elevation map looked like this:

OUCH. Think this looks bad? Imagine trying to run it at 80 degrees and 70% humidity.

OUCH. Think this looks bad? Imagine trying to run it at 80 degrees and 70% humidity.

I had decided that I wasn’t going to kill myself for this thing. My strategy was to make it through the first 3 miles, then walk for a bit and take some Honey Stingers (my favorite fuel so far). After that, I planned to run to each aid station, then walk for 0.1 to 0.25 of a mile. I mostly stuck to that, though I walked much more in the “hill country” of miles 8.5 to 10. Trying to run up those things was just a wasted effort at that point, they were so steep. It might not look like much to trail or mountain runners, but I don’t run a ton of hills like that on a regular basis! I tried to run halfway on the uphills, walk the rest, then run the downhills and flats. It worked out OK.

I don’t even know my official time, but my Garmin had me at 2:41ish for 13.35 miles. My ankle held up really well; it never hurt during the run. However, I ended up with some pretty good blisters on my feet from tape the doctor used to wrap up my feet. I hardly ever get blisters, but I could feel them developing from mile 9 onward.

Overall, dragging myself out to do this run did me a lot of good. It broke through my “woe is me” mentality and gave me a little confidence. Yeah, it was super slow. Yeah, I had to walk more that I ever have before. At the same time, my ankle was able to withstand the stress, and I don’t feel like I lost too much endurance with my lighter training the past couple of weeks. I also got to talk to some cool people and add another nice race shirt to my collection. Given the weather, I don’t feel too bad about the outcome.

It’s time to tackle week 14 with confidence and gusto!

Week 2 training recap

Another week down! It feels good to mark the day and workouts off my plan as they go by. This week was a little crazier (somehow), and I didn’t manage to wake up and run before work at all. That meant more treadmill miles than I care for, but I did sneak in some morning yoga on Wednesday and get my long run done Saturday morning before the heat became too terribly oppressive. Goal for week 3: at least 3 morning runs. Weather permitting, of course. The forecast calls for severe storms on a few mornings, and lately the weather has been no joke! Crazy thunder and lightning, 30+ mph wind gusts, flash flooding…not fit or safe for outdoor activity.

Monday

Plan: 3

Actual: 4.25 @ 9:24 + strength. This was on the treadmill at an easy pace. I like getting a little extra in at the beginning of the week. It makes the prescribed runs for the rest of the week seem easier because they’re shorter.

Tuesday

Plan: 3

Actual: Big River speedwork. 4.75 total, including warmup, 10x400m @ 7:11 pace w/250m recovery, cooldown.

First speedwork since my ankle injury! The workout was 10-12 repeats at 5k pace. Speedwork culminates with a 5k time trial on the track in a few weeks, at which I hope to break 24 minutes. I felt pretty strong during the workout, but my stomach was starting to get grumpy toward the end. I copped out at 10, mostly because I didn’t want to hurt myself my first week back and I wanted to get in a good cooldown without going way over my assigned mileage for the day.

Wednesday

Plan: Rest/XT

Actual: 40 minutes yoga.

Woke up and did this before work. My legs were sore and dead from speedwork the night before, so I chose a flow that focused on the hips and hammies. Felt a lot better.

Thursday

Plan: 3

Actual: Rest.

Woke up with internet problems, so I had to take Dan to a friend’s so he could work, then pick him up so he wasn’t bugging them all day. I’d wanted to run after work, but time got away from me and it was way too hot.

Friday

Plan: Rest

Actual: 3.24 @ 9:23 + strength.

Did some deadlifts in addition to my normal strength stuff, and they really worked me over. Trying to incorporate more hamstring/glute moves into my routine to help with my hip issues. I’m definitely having less tightness and discomfort than I had been a few weeks ago.

Saturday

Plan: 7 miles @ 10:00

Actual: 7 @ 10:17

Stayed up too late on Friday night, but still managed to get up around 7:30 on Saturday. Got out the door by 8, and it was already 77 degrees with 70% humidity. I am NOT a hot weather runner at all, and I’m really not acclimated to the humidity yet. I knew it could be a potentially rough run, but I did myself a big favor by slowing down and just running by effort, not pace. I’m a sucker for taking walk breaks when it gets hot, but managed to slow down enough to not take any. I also went through about 24 ounces of water. I felt OK after finishing, but when I was done, I was really glad it was over!

Everyone has their own “long run” mark; the distance varies depending on what you’re training for. The 7-mile mark is when I consider my runs to be getting “long.” Running for 60+ minutes is my line in the sand. It felt good that I was able to do my first long run in such unpleasant weather conditions, so early in training when I’m still building up, and not feel like death. Had it not been so gross outside, 8 or 9 miles would’ve been on the table for sure. That’s encouraging.

Sunday

Plan: Rest

Actual: Rest

And man, did it feel good! My hammies were still sore from the long run, and my lower back and neck were mega stiff when I woke up. I took some time to relax and foam roll my aches and pains.

Total: 22 miles, 5 hours 6 minutes.

I usually get in a few walks on my lunch break at work, which I count in my weekly mileage but don’t bother writing about. You know, just in case you added up the totals and thought I was terrible at math.

Not jealous

I hate warm, humid weather. Ideally, it would always be 45 to 60 degrees.

As a result, I’m not jealous of my friends running in the Go! St. Louis Half/Marathon. The weather would be a nightmare for me:

UGH.

Though I’m not running in the race this weekend, I do need to run 9-10 miles at some point, hopefully tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to it, but it’ll pay off May 1 when I run in Oregon. If the weather is anything like the averages say it will probably be, I’ll be a happy camper.

High in the 60s, low in the 40s? Yes, please.

My turn!

I’ve thought of something else that I dislike about Myrtle Beach. Maybe dislike isn’t quite the word…but the situation is definitely disappointing.

In Columbia, if a person lives close to MU campus, he or she can literally walk or ride a bike anywhere worth going. I loved it, and I rode my bike pretty much everywhere. It was my primary mode of both transportation and exercise. All you had to do was hop on the MKT on a pleasant fall day for a beautiful ride through backcountry and forest. Myrtle Beach would be the perfect place for such activity: It’s flat and the weather is always great. However, people seem adamantly opposed to sharing the road with cyclists, and there are no bike lanes in sight (the 400 feet of bike lane by the Wal-Mart does NOT count.) Another problem is that to get anywhere worth riding, you have to take a highway, which is not only dangerous but also illegal in the state of SC and I think a lot of other places, too.

I have an awesome bike, and I want to ride it. I think I’m going to try taking it out on a lesser-traveled back road on my next day off (which won’t be happening for 7 more days. Ugh.)

Another observation: MB drivers are bitter. I know, everyone complains about the traffic where they live. It’s too slow, there’s always a jam, the drivers are stupid, etc., and blah blah blah. But bitter drivers? I think that’s a little different. I seriously think that year after year of tourist season has taken its toll on their southern hospitality. There no courtesy wave for letting someone out in front of you. Actually, there is no getting let out in front of other people in the first place. I think Dan and I might be the only people who do that out here, and when we do, the person behind us looks like they might have an aneurism. I don’t know what the deal is. I guess they just get tired of ignorant visitors clogging the roads. Maybe things will be better for us once we get our SC license plates.

On a side note: It’s raining today, and I have the scooter. I really hope it stops before 3:30.

I can feel the wind in my hair…it’s cold.

Dan and I got a scooter/moped/whatever you want to call it. It’s like a Vespa, and it’s yellow. We spent most of yesterday scooting around town and getting used to driving it. We took it to this restaurant called Panini 38, which is also a wine bar.

I don’t know if I mentioned this or not, but Dan got a job doing computer stuff for a care center place. Anyway, we went out and bought a scooter because our hours overlap so oddly that we needed a cheap, CHEAP second mode of transportation.  After going to pick it up and what have you, we spent the rest of the glorious day riding around by the beach in 70+ degree weather. That is, until the sun set.

Dan and I had agreed to try that new restaurant and splurge on a nice dinner to celebrate his new job.  While we were at dinner taking our time to savor our food, the weather became much, much colder.  By the time we finished dinner and hopped on the scooter to go home, the sun was down and it was about 45 degrees.  Add a winds of 35-40 mph and it gets pretty cold.

We were frozen by the time we got home.  But anyway, it was still fun.

Sunday, we went to go see “Be Kind Rewind.” I really, really enjoyed it. It ended up being a little more serious than I thought it was going to be, but still funny.  Michel Gondry’s use of camera tricks for the film is delightful.

Good weekend. It’s storming like mad out right now.