June 29, 2010

Geese, ink and a sunset

I’m going to run a 5K. I’m serious. Since my last post, I have run five times and logged almost 15 miles. In just a week and a half, I’ve almost doubled my mileage, and I’ve been running more regularly. Trea and I have run more than 31 miles since we started a month ago!

Last week, we moved up to level three on Podrunner, so we’ve been alternating walking with two 90-second runs and – wait for it – two 3-minute sustained runs! Just a month ago, I was barely managing a 60-second run, and now I can run for three minutes and not completely want to die. I’m making progress!

I had one bad run last weekend at the new (to us) track near the dog park. I overslept and by the time we made it outside, it was HOT. Way too hot to be running. We had no relief from the sun, and I wasn’t able to finish the run, even though Trea kept going. We learned our lesson; summer is too hot even for a mid-morning workout. We either have to get up early or go late in the evening. After that experience, we have given up on running that area and are sticking with our old track at the goose pond park. There we can stay in the shade almost the entire time, even though that means reversing our course a few times and facing the geese. It seems to be breezier there, which helps give some relief to this insane Arkansas heat and humidity. Plus, it's pretty.

Trea went out of town last week for a few days, and I had to run twice on my own. Before he left, we completed a level three run one time, so I knew I could do it, but just barely. That 3-minute run is tough, and I would’ve quit if Trea hadn’t been with me. Running with a partner has created somewhat of a competition between us. Speed isn’t a factor because he’s way faster, and I’ve accepted that. But if he finishes a run, I’m going to finish a run (unless there’s a chance of suffering heat stroke).

The first time I tried to run without him on level three, I seriously doubted my will power and endurance. So I cheated just a little bit. I took Bella with me. I knew that even if I wanted to quit, she would drag me down the trail and make sure we made it to the end. My plan worked, and I finished. My pace suffered because I spent the entire time holding her back from an all-out sprint. She was so happy to be running with me, but she made it harder instead of easier. She needs a lot more leash practice. That's project number two this summer.

On my second run without Trea, I left Bella at home so I could focus completely on what I was doing. I was so proud of myself for finishing and not giving up. I even sprinted a little ways – when I was chased by an angry flock of geese. That was not cool. Some of those geese are almost waist-high and enormous! It’s pretty intimidating to find about 20 of them blocking the path - and embarrassing to have onlookers laugh at my peril. (I may or may not have squealed and flailed my arms as I ran.) But if I have to choose between overheating at the dog park or goose encounters at the pond, I’ll choose the goose pond and try to stay out of their way.

We should have run tonight, but Trea had an appointment in Fayetteville. We went to Brainstorm Tattoo to have one of his existing tattoos touched up. Last year he got a large tattoo of an owl on his arm. It's done in black and gray wash, which means the artist mixed water with the ink to soften the shading. We loved it at first, but after it healed, it faded more than we had anticipated and looked old and unfinished. So tonight we went to a new artist to add color.
This is before.

This is after a two-hour session. We go back next week to fill in the tree.

Even though we're happy with the way it looks today, tattoos are always more vivid immediately after you get them, so we know this color will fade quite a bit over the next week. However, even after it fades, it should still look much deeper than the simple black and gray that he had before.

As we were driving home, I snapped a picture of this sunset. This orange cloud made me happy, and happy clouds make me think of Bob Ross.

We're getting back on schedule tomorrow and, if I can muster the courage, we're moving up to level four. Level four makes a 3-minute run look short, so I'm worried. Also, some of you have mentioned that you aren't able to leave comments directly on my blog. I've updated the settings, so you should be able to comment now. Let me know if any issues still exist, and, of course, thanks for the encouragement!

June 17, 2010

Hot stuff

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, but I promise I’ve been running – sporadically. Thank you so much to those who have asked how this project is going! I appreciate your interest and need the self-imposed guilt trip when I have to explain why I haven’t gotten on a regular running schedule yet. I’m working on it.

A few weeks ago, I went to south Arkansas to visit my parents. I was so proud of myself for going for a run while I was there because the few times in my life that I’ve ever had an exercise routine, it all goes out the window when I go out of town. However, I pushed on and ran (and walked) a little over two miles in their neighborhood, which was, I imagine, very similar to running on the face of the sun. I doubt I’ll run there again until this HEAT eases up. That weekend was the first time I began noticing knee pain. Since then I’ve had pain in both knees, sort of on the front and inside the joint. It’s no fun, and it’s all the time. I hope this passes soon. If any of you are runners, I would appreciate any advice you could give, especially if this is normal for a beginner.

Trea and I have been running primarily at the park nearest to our house. It's beautiful...

...even though it has snakes.

It’s a pretty walking trail around a pond, and last weekend we took Bella with us. She hasn’t had much experience walking on a leash with so many distractions, so Trea spent the majority of our time teaching her not to tackle people. But all in all, she was pretty well behaved, and we’re going to try to take her more often.

We got too confident for a minute and decided to let her off her leash so she could splash around in the creek. We’ve had a decent amount of rain, so it was moving pretty quickly and it’s definitely too deep for us to cross without swimsuits. She promptly dove in, swam across and got out on the other side where we couldn’t get to her. I don’t have any pictures of that because I was too busy calling for her to come back. Thankfully, she jumped in and swam back to us after only a few minutes of freedom. We won’t make that mistake again, but boy, she had fun.

I ran tonight for the first time in five days, and that’s actually an improvement on my routine. I’ve been averaging only one run a week, usually over the weekend. It’s still a huge challenge to manage my schedule so I can run in the evenings after work. Mostly because it's HOT. I don’t think running in the morning on weekdays would work out because if I start at daylight, by the time I drove to the park, ran, drove home, showered and drove to work, I would be super late. My neighborhood doesn’t have the luxury of things like sidewalks or even a shoulder on the road. I live in the woods on a huge hill with winding, steep roads and blind curves. People like to drive down the center of the street at top speed, so I’m risking my life every time I step out for a stroll instead of driving to the park. The fact that a morning run won’t fit into my schedule is unfortunate because the few times that I’ve gone running on the weekends, I’ve gone in the morning when it’s cooler and felt a thousand times better than on my evening runs. Oh well. I’ll run early in the day when I can.

Tonight we ran at a new park, and I have mixed feelings about the experience. It’s a pretty area, and we saw a couple of rabbits and a beautiful creek that puts the other park to shame. However, it’s a lot larger, so we went long stretches without seeing any other people. That’s nice in a way, but the old park is smaller and I didn’t realize until tonight that the people are a much-needed distraction for me. When I see a funny dog or an elderly couple walking together or a kid who refuses to ride her bike and makes her dad push it along, it takes my mind off what I’m doing. Tonight I had no distractions and was fully aware of how hot it was and how tired I felt. Even though I ran my fastest time so far today, it wasn’t as enjoyable. However, it was nice not to worry about being chased by geese and to not have to hop over goose poo on the trail, which was the case at the old park. I guess it’s good to mix it up every once in a while.

My training still consists of alternating walking and running with Podrunner intervals, but I’ve moved up to the next level. I begin with a five-minute walk to warm up, then I alternate running and walking every 90 seconds. The full workout lasts about 30 minutes, and I complete six 90-second runs in between brief walks. I should be able to complete this workout just once more before moving up to the next level and increasing the amount of time that I run. It’s tough, but I’m making progress. I know 90 seconds isn’t very long, but it sure does feel like it. I’m keeping track of distance and time through Nike Plus, which I purchased after I had already completed a couple of workouts. So according to the records I have on Nike Plus, I’ve run a total of almost 16 miles and burned more than 1,400 calories. Not bad for a newbie!


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