Sleep or run?

I tried to continue my two-a-day workouts this week with a three-mile run after core class Monday evening, but that got more difficult Tuesday and Wednesday because I attended an all-day conference for work both days. I managed a four-mile run Tuesday after I got home, but that was it. Wednesday morning I got up early and spent an hour at my Fit to Run class, then raced home to shower and make coffee before hitting the road sitting in traffic on the way to the second day of the conference.

I hadn’t slept well Tuesday night, and I woke up about 20 minutes before my 4:50(!) alarm, which never bodes well. I was tired when I got home–the conference was great, and I was asked to present the social justice project some of my students created, but I spent a lot of time sitting, and the early start hadn’t helped.

I sat on the couch for a while. I ate some leftovers and pondered whether it was too early to go to bed. And then I got up, changed my clothes, laced up my shoes, and went out to run.

I thought I’d go a mile, maybe two. But then I passed the one-mile turnoff, and the two-mile one. In the end, I ran my usual three-mile loop. I got slower each mile and my legs were tired (and it didn’t take me an hour) but otherwise, pretty much this:

tiredAdmittedly, it’s easier to make this choice during the summer when I only had to get up early twice. Let’s see if I make these same choices when I go back to work for real.

Which is not something I want to think about yet. Where did July go??

And with that…

… my trip to Galveston is over. 

This week I’ve run 20 miles on the seawall and on the beach, and I completed the Fitness Blender five-day challenge from my hotel room.  

Room with a view

 

Most of my runs were 3-4 miles, but last night I ran seven. In a straight line. With a maximum elevation change of 13 feet. Little kids wandered out in front of me, music (and cigarette smoke) blared from cars parked along the seawall, a friendly-looking dog tried to follow me, and a guy yelled “You’re doing great!” as I passed. 

Other than one stop for water each direction, I ran the whole way. Well, not including a stop at Rita’s.  

Seven miles = permission for ice custard happiness

 

The second half was slower than the first, mostly because I was running into the wind. But I won’t rule out post-custard lethargy either. 

Before I left, I learned that my 18-year old cat, who’d been in very poor health when we left on Saturday, had crossed the Rainbow Bridge. It was not unexpected, but that didn’t make it any easier. So when I saw this note spray-painted on the sidewalk, it made me think of her. I wasn’t there to comfort her this week, but I hope she knows I did indeed love her very much.  

RIP Samantha

  

Time to head ’em up and move ’em out. 

Life’s a beach

After Monday’s hot and sunny morning run, I decided Tuesday to see if conditions would be friendlier in the evening. I did the second day of the Fitness Blender five-day challenge in the morning, then spent much of the afternoon at the pool before heading out around 7:30. 

I knew right away this had been a wise decision. 

We are coming back in a couple of weeks for a beach 5K, so to practice some beach running I ran south until the seawall ended–about half a mile–then dropped down onto the beach and ran along the shoreline for another mile as the sun slid behind the dunes. 

 

I look tall

 
Thanks to the cool(ish) breeze blowing in from the Gulf, I never had that omg I’m going to burst into flames! feeling, unlike Monday. I hardly even touched my water bottle. 

I dodged sand castles, kids, and dogs. Once, to avoid clotheslining myself I ran behind someone’s fishing pole rig only to get my feet tangled in a net. But the sand was a forgiving surface–no seaweed piles mountains this year!

I felt strong, and each mile my pace improved. On the way back I slowed to scale the little hill from the beach up to the seawall, and then I sped up even more, pushing myself to an even 5K. My last half-mile was more than 2:00/mile faster than my first! It wasn’t a record-setting pace or anything, but I was especially pleased because this was my second workout of the day, three days into our trip full of restaurant meals and tempting beach treats. Not only have I stuck to my plan, this run felt good.

Next up: day three of the five-day challenge, and maybe an easy-pace run. And more beach!

Running into the sun

Sunday afternoon, we drove from Austin to Galveston to take B to shark camp. While we waited to check in, we chatted with another shark camp family, and it turns out, the kid recognized B from a 5K we ran this spring. B had placed second in is age group–this was the kid who beat him. What are the odds, 200 miles from home?

Once he was safely delivered to his dorm room, we headed over to our hotel–our home for the next five days. 

Monday morning, I woke up around 7:00 and decided to run along the seawall. Our hotel is at the southern end of the island–there’s only about a half-mile of seawall to the southwest of us. So I headed the other way–northeast–instead. What I did not consider, and what I quickly discovered, is at this time of morning, running that direction pretty much means running straight into the sun. 

 

I’m big on getting unpleasantness out of the way up front–running a little further before I turn around instead of having to tack on extra distance after I thought I’d finished, running hills on the way out instead of on the way back, that kind of thing–so if there’s any saving grace here, it’s that I ran into the sun for the first two miles, not the last two. 

I turned around after a little more than two miles, glad to have the sun at my back. I told myself to run to the next traffic light (there were only three my whole run) and when I got there, I kept going, promising myself a water break at the restaurant further down. 

Running in a straight line along the coast makes distance appear somewhat deceptive. “The next traffic light” was visible ahead, but it took a while to actually get there because it was actually a mile away. Same with the restaurant I used as my landmark–it was the only structure in the distance, distance being the key word. For a while, it felt like it really wasn’t getting any closer. 

When I finally reached it, I stopped briefly for water, then took off again knowing I had put the longest stretch behind me. Another half-mile to go. Up ahead I could see a guy I’d passed earlier who’d turned around before I had, and I made it my mission to catch him before I reached my hotel. 

I focused on the palm tree in the distance and sped up. He had gotten a good head start, but he didn’t know we were playing this game. He was 20 yards away when I approached that palm tree at the edge of the complex, and 10 away at the pedestrian entrance where I originally planned to stop. But I kept going and passed him just before I reached the driveway at the other end. Mission: Accomplished. 

Both the mileage map and the elevation graph are pretty boring: a straight line along the seawall, at sea level. And even though I hate running in the morning into the sun, it felt good to finish 4.3 miles before breakfast. 

We spent most of the day at Moody Gardens (walking!), and after my first Fitness Blender workout of the five-day challenge and some time in the hotel pool, we walked back to that restaurant for dinner. Fish, shrimp, and crab cakes. And you’d better believe I rewarded myself with ice cream too.  

The half-mile walk back to the hotel was far more pleasant 13 hours later. A breeze blew in off the water and the sun dropped behind the buildings. I think next time I’ll try running in the evening. 

  

Morning, Sunshine

I’m not a morning person. But I have to say, we were a mile into our run before the sun came up, and we were finished with seven miles by 8am. Not bad.

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We stopped for water a couple of times and once so one of my friends could pet a dachshund. And we spent a minute chatting with some other running friends we hadn’t seen in a while. All in all, I think we passed six people we knew.

It was humid and gross, and I was definitely sluggish the last two miles. I know I keep comparing myself to this time last year, but when summer started I’d planned to keep a Saturday “long” runs around 4-5 miles; instead I can go out and run seven miles and not struggle with it. It’s a good feeling!

This week I am headed to Galveston while B attends sea camp. I’ve committed to completing the Fitness Blender five-day challenge with some friends, and (unlike last year!) I’m looking forward to running along the seawall as far as I want. With a stop at Rita’s for Italian ice, of course. Hydration is important. 😉

Attacked by Schnauzers

This morning, I was about halfway through my run when I realized I was attempting four-ish miles a little more than 24 hours after my Wednesday morning Fit to Run class. And I wasn’t suffering.

That’s a far cry from my post-FTR attempts back in June, when the sprinklers saved me once, and another time my friend and I just threw in the towel and walked the last mile and a half because my legs were just too fried to run.

This week, I ran three miles after Monday evening’s core class (in which I also managed the more difficult version of push-ups and side planks), ran four miles on Tuesday afternoon, and ran almost three miles after the hour-long FTR class on Wednesday. And instead of feeling like a death march, my post-workout runs have felt easier less difficult.  Let’s not forget that it’s July in Texas, either, so pleasant temperatures are not involved.

Clearly, this strength training–Rogue classes and Fitness Blender videos–is paying off.

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And the Schnauzers? They were hanging out in someone’s front yard and came tearing toward me, barking furiously and attempting to bite my ankles. I outran them.

My running friends are real (and they’re spectacular)

Last summer, four of us ran together pretty often. Similar paces, similar distance goals, similar colorful vocabulary. But by the end of summer things had gone awry, injury-wise, with all of us. We hobbled through the Zilker Relays, and some combination of us met up at several races during the fall, but we hadn’t really run together in a long time. But this morning, the stars aligned for us to run together.

Seinfeld

Rogue was hosting a picnic at the park (pancakes after your run!) so three of us met at 6:00am. That may sound ridiculously early (ok, it is), but we were not the first ones out there–a bunch of people had left at 5:30. You know it’s summer in Texas when running groups start before the sun comes up.

The route had a couple of options (and was different from what we’d seen earlier in the week) so we headed east on the trail not sure which way we’d go. The other two wanted to run eight miles, and at first I thought I could manage that. But when we reached three miles, we changed things up. The trail crossed an intersection there, then continued another .75 or so. The route followed the trail, then looped up into the neighborhood and back to the intersection. Our fourth friend was meeting us at this point to run back with us, but we were running late and didn’t have time to make the full loop and be back here to meet her. Do we text her that we’re late, do we turn back early, or what? In the end, we decided the other two would keep going around the loop. But because I was a little nervous about jumping from a long run of six to eight miles, I decided I’d go up the loop backwards for half a mile or so, meet up with her, and then all four of us would reconvene at the intersection for the return trip. That would give them their planned eight miles but would keep me at seven so I didn’t increase mileage too quickly.

By the time I got back to the intersection, A had just arrived as well. After about 15 minutes, the others came down the hill and we all headed back to the park. It’s uphill most of the way back, and the other two had run ahead a bit, so it was definitely nice to have the company. At one point A said to me, “Wait, we’re at the dam already?” Time had gone much faster while we chatted!

My pace over seven miles was no faster than I’ve been running on Saturdays, but I felt less miserable. I’d done a challenging Fitness Blender video yesterday morning (although I modified some of it, knowing I planned a long run this morning) and was kind of worried that would come back to bite me. Yeah, my quads were a little sore, but I didn’t have any real trouble running the whole seven miles. I feel like I’m getting stronger, but I can also attribute it to the four of us running together again.

My stomach growled as we ran the last half-mile, and as we got closer I could smell the pancakes and bacon. I usually don’t feel too hungry after a long run, but today I was starving.

muffintop

Pancakes and bacon cooked on a griddle; another table held fruit and Nuun-flavored mimosas. This was a good day to be hungry after my run! Someone asked what made the pancakes taste so amazing, and the answer was “bacon grease.” Note to self…

I didn’t win any raffle prizes but I scored a free shirt from the New Balance people who were doing shoe wear-testing. I caught up with a few people I hadn’t seen in a few weeks, but after a while my muscles protested standing around, so I said goodbye to my friends and headed home.

nap

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.