Tuesday, June 14, 2011

So Happy to be Running Again...

I was even smiling when I did a bit of an ankle roll on a steep descent next to a semi-busy road today. Yup - I am that person!

So far this month I am only three miles off my cumulative mileage for April and May. My right leg is feeling fine and I am optimistic the stress fracture is a thing of the past.

Today, though it is not Thursday, I ran to work. It was a beautiful day and it seemed foolish to commute via car. I dawdled just long enough paying bills that I ruled out the longer run I had (rather foolishly really) originally planned via the SHT to Cody street and then to work and opted instead to hit the roads and take the "medium distance" route to work. This involves some hill work. First a climb up the 4 or so blocks to Skyline Blvd and then the 0.8 mile descent at 40th Ave W. This route is a good test of fitness. Can I climb the hill without getting too out of breath, recover quickly for the gentle ascent along Skyline, and then after 2.2 miles it is time for a fast paced descent on a steep hill with semi-decent shoulders, lots of hairpin turns, poor sight lines and, thanks to HWY 35 construction, bumped up traffic.

That descent is the only chance I realistically have of running something close to a 6 minute mile. Wow, is it fun!

After the hill I turned onto some relatively flat roads for a few blocks, then it was down hill again towards work. Today I took a bit of a detour west to stop at a local store to stock up on lemonade and fig bars for my office.

I had one of my fastest times on this course despite making a concerted effort to keep things pretty easy overall. This gives me a bit more confidence in my ability to run a decent 5K in 11 days. I will be returning to Knife River to participate in their Solstice Run on June 25th. This is a fun, small town race held to support the local Recreation Council. I have run there off and on for years and last year set my 5K PR despite the hilly course. This year, due to the stress fracture I was not sure if I would be able to run at all and certainly did not expect to run very well. My last few road runs are indicating that I may be able to pull out a respectable time after all!

This past weekend I had planned to run 7.5 miles as my long run (sticking close to the 10% rule). I joined some friends on the SHT above my house for a nice, leisurely run. When I got home I found a text from a young friend of mine asking if I wanted to join her on an "easy 2 miler". I try to never turn down a new/returning runner so said yes. I ended up logging another 3.3 miles (on roads) which included a climb to Skyline, a loop around Enger Tower and then a descent back to her house (with a wicked little hill thrown in at the end - she seems to have gone to the Gene Curnow School of Running Course Design). The next day I biked to and from work and the legs felt pretty good, even on the climb home.

I am still holding the line at no ultras for the summer, but I am a little more hopeful that I will be racing at Wild Duluth and maybe even something before that.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Thursdays ARE for Running To Work

Today I ran to work! And back home!

My last run in this series was 2/24/11 (the week the initial injury occurred that after much denial was diagnosed as a stress fracture).

It felt hard! My legs felt slow, my pack felt heavy, and my breathing felt off. I tried to focus on taking it easy yet keeping the pace up (this is a road run so a good opportunity to work on speed).

I was pleasantly surprised to arrive at work in a time that would have thrilled me last year!

The run home was a challenge. The wind was out of the east (off Lake Superior) at 15 mph with gusts of an unknown velocity that were high enough to slow me down almost to a stop. I had only made it a block from work when I was laughing at the absurdity of trying to maintain any type of pace in these conditions.

I chose to use a local hiking trail to climb the final mile up the hill, which allowed a break from the wind and pavement, and then it was back at it for the final blocks to my house (and the 36 step climb to the front porch).

My leg is feeling great (aka there is no pain) and I am hopeful that I will now be able to start building mileage again as well as getting back the conditioning lost over the past 3 months.

I am not planning on running any Ultras this summer but hope to be back for my 3rd Wild Duluth event in October.

Being injured has freed me up to volunteer at even more races and I have been having fun taking pictures at various events and had a blast at Zumbro 100, Chippewa 50K and up at the Spring Superior Races in May where I worked the finish line. I already let Andy Holak know I was available to resume my old post at the Jay Cooke Aid Station for Voyageur. I highly encourage everyone to spend some time volunteering at a trail race!

Other Stuff

Knitting on the secret project is progressing well, though when I discovered a mistake 32 rows back I was a bit heartbroken. 117 stitches per row all ripped back. On the other hand this yarn is a lovely merino that is an absolute joy to knit, so reknitting it wasn't too devastating.

The weather in northern Minnesota has been cool and wet. Very cool, very wet. Spring has been slow to come and while much of Minnesota was sweltering in 100+ degree heat we were barely getting into the 60's here next to the Lake. While I am not a fan of temps in the triple digits I am ready for it to warm up a bit and stay there.

We have yet to get the garden in (and there are frost warnings tonight so I am glad I don't have to be out there covering the plants). The weeds and lawn are going crazy though and there is much to do in the yard to prepare for the vegetables and keep the lawn under control (mowing a slope means you try very hard not to let the grass get too long).

I have had the motorcycle (1984 BMW R65) out a couple of times after successfully changing the oil and filter myself (with much tutoring from Mr. Wildknits) and doing a few other maintenance items. The winter gloves are still in rotation as the temps are just too cool for my fingers otherwise.

Sunday I got out for my first mountain bike ride on the single track at the Piedmont trails. I had already run that morning and my legs were toast! I ended up walking a few more sections of trail than normal.

I have been trying to commute via bicycle as much as possible and figured out a way to layer up that kept me warm(ish) down to the upper 20's. The strong winds this spring have added a bit of resistance training to those commutes as well! I have been enjoying those commutes and plan to keep them in the mix as the summer progresses.