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I Feel Like a Winner

I haven’t done a Saturday Running Commentary post in a while (yes, I’m too lazy to go back and check; that run wore me out!).  Additionally,  today’s was a run I don’t mind revisiting, at least briefly (yes yes, my Running Commentary posts often run long, but they don’t always) (did you see what I did there? “run long”? Well, I liked it).

Yesterday’s run equalled my last longest time, so I thought I might do a shorter run today, then increase by the recommended ten percent tomorrow.  I could decide as I went.  I carried a bottle of water with me, reminding myself not to drink too much too fast.  Then I reflected that the run ought to be a long one, since I was bringing water.  You see how I talk myself into these things.

I decided to run up the hill by Valley Health then on into the residential area I call the Suburbs.  There are some pretty good hills in that area, and I can easily go by the spring to refill my water bottle on my way back home.

Tiny sips, I reminded myself, and not too often.  This would be fine.  Soon I had made it up the hill by Valley Health. That did not feel so fine.  I called a greeting to two ladies going to work (I surmised by their scrubs).  They waved and one said, “Get that work-out done!” in an encouraging tone of voice.

I ran further into the Suburbs than I have on my shorter runs.  Here was a hill!  As I recalled, it was a long hill.  Just keep going, I told myself. I resisted the urge to turn left and not go all the way up the hill.  Then I saw that I was no nearly as close to the top as I thought I was. Oh no!

There was the right-hand turn which was where I would come out if I kept going straight.  The road goes down then up.  So  I could turn right and go down, then up, then down,  or I could go straight and go up, then down, then up.  I turned right.  I felt I HAD to go downhill at least for a bit.

Bad move, I realized.  This made for a lot longer distance going up.  The snarky voice in my head suggested I take a life lesson about choosing short-term gratification and ending up with longer-term effort.  Then I told the snarky voice to shut up.  It is a win/win situation, I decided.  Either I enjoy an easier run or I enjoy the benefits of a more difficult run.  Additionally,  I intend to run in this area all summer.  I have plenty of chances to run the other way.

Keeping an eye on the time, I ran toward the spring.  I finished the bottle just as I got to it.  By virtue of going a little ways past my house, I increased my run time by 10 percent.  Now THAT is a win/win situation.  Or do I only win once?  Discuss amongst yourselves.

 

I’m Running Again!

Saturday Running Commentary is back!  I am running again!  I know, I know, some people never stop, even if they are in a play.  Well, I can’t live up to every standard, even the ones I set for myself.  As it happens, I was not going to start running again today; I was going to content myself with a walk.  However, after a cup of coffee and some solitaire (with an actual deck of cards, OF COURSE), I thought I would give it a try.

It was 46 degrees out, above the temperature I usually go with shorts and short sleeves, but having not been running for at least a couple of weeks (I did not torture myself by figuring out the exact amount), I went with leggings and long sleeves.  I put on a wide headband to cover my ears.  I figured my ears were likely to get cold.

Right away things did not feel so good.  I was prepared for that and hunkered down for a slow, easy run.  Which way should I go?  I saw a woman walking across the road from me on German Street so turned in the opposite direction.  I did not need to see a walker outpacing me.  About a block ahead of me was a man walking two dogs.  I wanted to pet those dogs!  I doubted I would catch up with them.  Then, too, I did not recognize the dogs as any I had petted previously.  You can’t pet just any dog.  I always ask permission first.

As it happened, they crossed Caroline Street before I caught up with them, and I turned down Caroline.  That was OK.  The way my body felt, it I stopped to pet a dog, there was no guarantee I would start up again. But I persevered.  Eventually my legs stopped complaining.  My breathing was not too bad at any point.  That meant I was setting the right pace, I think.  Or maybe it was too slow of a pace, but I prefer not to second guess myself about these things.  Yesterday I got quite out of breath walking up the stairs at work carrying my bag with my lunch, notebook, etc.  I think it is a good idea I started running again.

It occurred to me that one reason the run was not completely horrible was that I have been successful at taking off a few pounds.  Not as many pounds as I want to take off, of course, but I have been doing better lately than I have in previous months.  Let’s hear it for salad! Let’s do a little better in laying off the treats!

I ended up running 24 minutes and walking 11 for my cool-down.  I really like my cool-down walk.  For one reason, it feels AWESOME to walk after running, and I drink water, which tastes SO good.  Additionally, I feel it enhances my progress toward my weight-loss goals.  I figure after running, my metabolism is all kicked up, so that walk burns more calories than it otherwise would.  If you are an expert at these things (or think you are, because you read a Facebook meme), and feel this is not the case, kindly do not disillusion me.

So I have made a blog post Saturday morning.  If I make another one before the end of the day, I will be back to one blog post behind.  Hey, that could happen.  After a good run, I feel I can do a lot of things!

 

Labor Day Run

I had been going to call this one “Labored Run,” but that began to seem a trifle melodramatic.  The humidity is up, up, up, and I am still not back in shape.  I simply must remember that at my age, one’s body slips backward FAST.  But never mind that, I had a few good things happen on this run, so here is a Monday Running Commentary for our holiday.

I almost did not run again today, because I slept in till after six, then enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee.  Even after seven years at my current place of employment (how the time flies!), Monday holidays still feel like a big deal to me.  Shortly after seven, I changed my mind and got into running gear.  I wore my Big Sur Marathon t-shirt, for encouragement.  I did not run the marathon; I have the t-shirt because I volunteered back in 1998 (what did I say about time flying?).  I really would like to run a marathon one day.  Maybe I can make that happen in 2019.

To begin with, it was not much fun.  As I said earlier, it was humid. Oh, the humidity! (I love that joke.)  Still, one must persevere.  I ran up German Street to Valley Health and up the hill on the far side of that building.  I felt this was a necessary effort if I am ever to get back into shape (that is, a shape other than round and puffy).  I ran into the residential area I refer to as The Suburbs, knowing there were some very good hills there but making up my mind to avoid them.  I would turn right here not there… oh no, there was a couple walking along with a cute little dog.  I love to pet a cute little dog.

“Can I pet your dog?” I asked.

“You sure can,”  the lady picked him up.  “He’s a scaredy cat.”

I let him sniff my hand and petted him gently.  “I love dogs.”

We wished each other a good day and I ran on.  Soon I was feeling a little better about the run.  My legs were not complaining at all, and my breathing was really not that bad. I saw a lady running toward me wearing a bright green Boilermaker t-shirt. Regular readers may recall that I have run the Boilermaker 15K.  I thought it was cool that we were both wearing running shirts.  She called a friendly good morning.

“Good morning,” I returned.  “We’ve got to get out while the gettin’s good!”

“It’s still hard!” she said.  I felt a little better to think she was having a hard time too, because she looked to be in marvelous shape.

My run ended up going better than I expected.  I ran for 22 minutes on Saturday and missed Sunday (because I wanted to sleep in AND go to church), and did not intend to go a whole lot further than 20 minutes.  Then I thought I could go a little further than 20 minutes.  I would see how far I went.  As I approached my street, I started thinking I could actually go for 30 minutes.  All I would have to do is go past my house.  It! Could! Work! (That’s a line from Young Frankenstein.)

On my street, I heard footsteps behind me.  It was my new friend in the Boilermaker t-shirt!

“You’re faster than me!” I said.

“It doesn’t feel like it!”

“At least we’re out here! That’s the important thing!”

“That’s right, we get 100 percent for that!”

“Eat some ice cream later!” I called as she went past me.  She agreed wholeheartedly.

As I walked down the street for my cool-down, I saw her walking towards me with a man and two dogs.  I used to always walk my cool-down with Tabby.  How I miss that!

When they got close enough I said, “I have got to get a dog so I can walk with him after my run!”

“Yes, the cool down!” she said.

“Get a rescue!” the man said.  “Always a rescue!”

“Definitely!” I said.  I WILL get a rescue.

I kept going straight down my street instead of around the block, because I saw another man walking a dog and thought I might be able to pet her (it turned out to be a her).  He pulled the dog up a handy driveway and told her to sit as I approached.

“Can I pet your dog?” He said I could, and she nicely sat while I petted her.  What a good dog!

So it was a not bad run.  I petted two dogs, exchanged remarks with another runner, and went further than I thought I would.  And I’ve already written my blog post for the day.  I say it’s a good start to my holiday Monday.

 

Four Days On, Three Days Off, What’s Next?

I am nobody’s good example when it comes to fitness.  I triumphantly ran four days in a row, culminating in my longest run on Sunday.  Then I went three days without running.  Go ahead and judge me.  On the brighter side, I ran today and it was not a bad run at all.

I had told myself all day that I would run, trying as usual to internalize the idea.  I even said I would run rain or shine.  Even if it poured rain!  After all, “Run in the Rain” is a good title for a blog post.  Except that I think I already used it.  No matter, it did not rain.  It was actually lovely weather for a run:  cooler temperature, cloudy and breezy.  This was going to be great!

I did my usual multi-task of putting a load of laundry in the washer before I set out.  I prepared myself to listen to my legs, feet, and possibly back complain. I would persevere!  Maybe I would make it a short run, but I would persevere for as long as possible.  Imagine my delight when my legs seemed perfectly content to move.  I turned left on German Street and prepared to enjoy myself.

Eight or nine minutes into the run, I got this weird cramp in my lower abdomen.  How annoying!  The entire rest of my body was having a perfectly enjoyable run, but one little part has to give me a pain.  What was that all about?  I kept running.  Maybe it would go away.  It did not.  I kept running anyways.

I saw a small flag on the sidewalk and picked it up.  I don’t like to see the American flag on the ground.  It was frayed on one side, as if it has come off its little stick.  I held it by the edge as I ran.  Now I was running with a flag.  I was thinking it could be a Veteran’s Day run when I remembered:  today is Flag Day!  I was right on time!  This was great!

Only the cramp continued.  It is so bothersome when you have a pain: it colors everything you do.  I continued to run, stopping occasionally to smell flowers:  lilacs once, peonies two or three times.  Of course I kept these stops very brief.  I considered making it a short run because of the cramp.  Then again, there was no guarantee that the cramp would stop if I was not running.  I did not think it involved any running muscles.  I kept going.  Every body part other than the cramp felt great!  What the hell, body?

As I neared the end of the run, it seemed that I could definitely keep it up for 29 minutes, the same length as my last, longest run.  I WOULD keep it up for 29 minutes, yes!  In order to do so, I ran around the apartment building at the end of my street, then around its front drive, then past my house and back.  I did it!

I felt happy as I walked my cool-down, and even happier as I drank my chocolate milk recovery beverage after my shower.  The cramp did not go away, so clearly I was right to keep running.  I’m wondering now if I will make this another four-day streak, running Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  If so, I will strive NOT to take three days off after!

 

The Run I Almost Missed

How about a Sunday Running Commentary in lieu of my usual Wrist to Forehead Sunday?  I got out of bed this morning thinking I would not run but after a cup of coffee talked myself into it.  As Steven pointed out, it is a beautiful day.  I do love running in the morning and weekends are the only times I can do it (unless I run at 3 a.m., which is not the same thing).

As I ran out the end of my driveway, I saw the peonies in my front lawn were blooming.  I paused oh so briefly to sniff at them.  What a wonderful scent!  I flashed back to springs and summers of my childhood, when my Mom had a large peony bush (she still has it).  I made up my mind I would smell any peonies I encountered on the run.

I was expecting my legs to start complaining as usual, but they did not.  Score!  I crossed German Street and headed for Main, where there is a nice hill. Yesterday I ran the hill by Valley Health, so I am working my way up to the hill to Herkimer College.  My current goal is to be ready for the Falling Leaves Run in September, which is 14K and I believe has several hills.  I should make it handily, if I don’t fall off the running wagon.

At the end of Main Street I saw a sign, “Road Closed, Local Traffic Only.”  I added in my head, “And Cindy Running.”  The hill was not much fun, I admit, but I persevered till the top.  It is kind of nice to be less than seven minutes into your run and have the big hill out of the way.  As I made my way back down to German, I wondered where else to run.  Today should have been the day for me to add the weekly ten percent to my run time, making it 29 minutes.  When I talked myself into running, it was with the proviso that I would not necessarily have to do that (as Scarlett O’Hara famously said, tomorrow is another day).  I was at this point undecided.

When I got to German Street, the sight of peonies decided me:  I crossed German and ran down Harley Street.  The peonies were pink and white, several bushes stretching almost a block long.  I sniffed four or five blooms, making very short pauses to do so, nothing like the stops I make to pet dogs.  Incidentally, I did not see any dogs.  More dedicated runners may shake their heads and opine that I will never improve my run time if I stop while running, but I do not care at all.  I like to smell flowers and I like to pet dogs.

My legs felt fine but my breathing was a little ragged.  I concentrated on breathing in slowly and holding the air in for a second or two.  I heard this advice from a fellow soldier, who had heard it from a Native American drill sergeant of his.  He said it stood to reason:  you hold the air in so it has time to do your body some good.  It helped.  I started to feel thirsty so thought of running to the spring and taking a drink.  How long would that take me?  Would I run 29 minutes after all?

I turned in the direction of the spring, keeping an eye on the time.  It soon became clear that I could not make it all the way to the spring and back.  That was OK, because as usual I had a bottle of ice water waiting for me on my deck.  I figured times in my head, changed my mind a few times, going up one street and down another.  Ooh, more peonies, sniff, sniff.  It came to me that I was GOING to make it for 29 minutes and it was NOT going to be a problem!  I felt GREAT!  I could run for DAYS!  Yes!

As I walked my cool-down, I said to a neighbor, “I’ll tell you what, running four days in a row is the Way to Go.  I feel awesome!”

“There you go,” he said.

“Which I did NOT feel the last three days,” I added.  It is wonderful to prove things to yourself.  When I have to persevere through a bad run, I always tell myself, you have to get through the bad runs to get to the good ones.  Today was definitely a good run.

 

Tired, But I Ran!

I have been trying to get back into the running habit, with some small amount of success.  I ran two consecutive weekend days, took yesterday off, and managed to run today.  Having written no blog post earlier (I DID write while on break and work AND after I got home, but it was not a blog post, sorry), I will attempt a Running Commentary, even as the little devil on my shoulder (you know, like they used to show on the cartoons, angel on one shoulder, devil on the other?) is whispering, “Tired Tuesday!  Make it another Tired Tuesday! You qualify!  You deserve it!”

Ahem, trying not to be distracted, I continue.  It was chilly and foggy this morning, but this afternoon was one of those when Mother Nature reminds us that it is still summer, even in the Mohawk Valley. I prefer to run in the fall weather.  I told myself that it certainly was not in the 80s, which I have run in, so I should just get out there and do it.  So I did.

Very slowly.

I had gone about three steps when I began to wish I had remembered to stretch before running.  I have gotten out of the habit of stretching before a run.  It is hard enough for me to start running anyways; I figured stretching was just more time for me to talk myself out of it (although full disclosure:  I have never talked myself out of running once the sports bras were on or even out of the drawer).  Additionally:  most sources say you should run in place for a minute and then stretch.  Oh, that is way too much trouble.  I thought, I begin running slowly, that will be my warm up.  And it has worked all right.  However, lately I have been thinking a few little stretches before the run might be a good thing to do.  Only now I am out of the habit.  Oh, the trials and tribulations!

So today I thought, should I pause right now and stretch?  I had just waved at a couple of neighbors sitting on their front porch, so I felt self-conscious.  Then again, they probably would not think anything of it.  Then again, stopping running was what I wanted to do more than anything else just then, so I was afraid of my ability to begin again once stopped.  I kept going.

It was soon apparent that I was not up to a long run.  That was OK, I told myself.  This was a mid-week run.  Twenty minutes was all right.  Just enough to get a little exercise, stay in the running habit.  No problem.  Oh, but it took a long time.  And it was warm.  Every bit of shade I ran through, I appreciated.  Of course I have had much hotter runs, and certainly more humid runs.  I have had runs where my feet, knees and back hurt more, where I have been longer without running, where it has been more difficult to breathe.

In short, I need to count my blessings.  I ended up running for 30 minutes.  This is how long I was running last week.  Sunday I upped the time by the recommended 10 percent to 33 minutes.   Oh, don’t shake your head at me and ask if I couldn’t possibly have lasted three minutes more!  Maybe I could have.  And maybe that three minutes would have tired me out so much that I really would have had a Tired Tuesday post, after NOT getting done the writerly chores I finished before making this post.

I’m going to call that a win.  I hope to see you all on Wuss-out Wednesday, for which I will make no promises.

 

Not a Wrist to Forehead Run

I will probably be doing a lot more Running Commentary posts for the next month and a half (or so), as I continue to prepare for the Utica Boilermaker 15K.  I thought I was in excellent shape for it already, having run just over an hour yesterday.  My feeling is if you can run one hours, you can run two; just don’t stop.  And I have run the Boilermaker in under two hours each time I have run in.  Then again (second guessing myself is apparently my favorite indoor sport), I took a three hour nap yesterday afternoon.  Maybe I’m not in such great shape (although I still maintain that round and puffy is a shape).

Today I have a few things I would like to get done, and I will not have time for a three-hour nap, so I thought I would run less than one hour.  This is not my normal M.O.  Usually I make long runs on both weekend days, when I don’t have to work.  However, this is a three day weekend.  I can go for a long run on Memorial Day.  I will wear an army t-shirt and run in honor of fallen soldiers.  So today could be a shorter, easier run with no hills.

I made this plan while I was still in bed, knowing it would be a good idea to get up but really wanting to sleep some more.  I finally talked myself into rising and immediately started drinking water from the bottle I habitually keep next to the bed. I got right into running clothes and was out the door before I had decided which direction to run in.  I turned the opposite way from what I usually take, toward State Street instead of German.  I had only gotten a block when somebody called a greeting.  It was the owner of Chico and Bear, two neighborhood dog buddies of mine.

She was dressed for church and taking the pups for a business meeting.  I stopped my watch and went over to pet the pups and chat with the person. I told her I had thought of going to church yesterday but woke up from my nap twenty minutes after mass started.  When we finished our chat, I reset my watch to zero and started again.  This time I ran down Church Street toward Main.  I still had no idea where I would go but knew I could figure it out as I went.  The sun was in my eyes, so I turned up Prospect and headed toward German.

On German, I turned left, so the sun was behind me.  I decided to run up the hill by Valley Health.  Yes, I had thought “no hills” but one hill was not so bad, especially compared to what I ran yesterday and what I hope to run tomorrow.  As I got to Valley Health, I mixed things up a little by going around the building the opposite way I usually do.  It’s the little things that add interest to my runs.  Running in front of the building as I was, I realized I was on an upslope.  I had never noticed it being a downslope when I ran on it in the opposite direction.  And isn’t that a metaphor for life, I thought.  We don’t always notice when things are a little easier, but, boy, let them get the least bit harder and wham!

I did not mind the upslope, nor yet the steeper hill.  Soon enough I was running down the side I usually run up.  The view is much better the other way, but I appreciated seeing something a little bit different.  I ran down to the Jr/Sr High School, eventually going over the little footbridge.

I ended up running for 37 minutes, and I felt pretty damn good about it.  I got tired by the end but concentrated on my breathing.  I know how getting a VCD (vocal chord dysfunction) attack can rack me up later in the day.  I felt truly awesome on my cool-down walk.  I feel pretty pleased with myself that I have made my blog post already too.  It looks as if I am not going to have a Wrist to Forehead Sunday.  I hope everybody else’s weekend is going as well.