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Without Hoopla or Help

So I did a thing last Sunday.  I ran 9.31 miles.  Yes, it was my Virtual Boilermaker 15K, and I pretty much backed into it.

I ran for one hour one minute on Saturday.  I had a bad headache, which running seemed to help.  Unfortunately, I started to get nauseous.  Now, I have the idea that I can run pretty much as long as I make up my mind to.  Not so on Saturday.  Quite abruptly, I felt, “No.”  I don’t know if it was from my mind or my body, but I stopped running.  I walked home, wanting nothing more than to stay perfectly still, which I was eventually able to do.

Still, I think an hour is a pretty good run, and I had included a few hills, so I was not entirely dissatisfied with myself.  Sunday I thought I would try for seven miles, however long that took me.  Then I would be in good shape for the Mini-Maker at Copper City Brewing in Rome on Sept. 13.

For a hill, I went out Main Street.  Part of the road is closed to traffic, but they don’t say anything about overweight, middle-aged runners, so I feel free.  It is steep and long-ish, and if I go all the way out Highland, I can come down Steuben Hill.  Sometimes I go up Steuben and down Highland, but I prefer to go up where it is steeper and down the more gradual slope.  Just my preference.

The run was going pretty well.  My first mile was almost 15 minutes, which I was not pleased about, but I told myself not to worry, just keep going.

It was sometime after the second mile that I began to toy with the idea of going for the 15K.  I had a bottle of water in my hand.  I could re-fill it at the spring.  That was almost as good as having water stations. I had not planned my entire route, but I could just keep going till Map My Run told me nine miles.  Then I could keep going till it was 9.3.  I should be able to look at my phone (strapped to my upper arm) enough to ascertain that.  I just couldn’t finish on a sprint, as I like to do.

The phrase occurred to me, “without hoopla or help.”  That’s it, I thought.  Without hoopla or help, I will run my 15K.  It kind of went against the grain, because one of my mottoes of life is “I get by with a little help from my friends.”  In this case, however, I decided to do something by myself, for myself, to prove I could do it.  I was running through some fairly level streets in Herkimer, NY while I thought this.  I tried to keep up my pace yet told myself that it did not matter how long it took me, as long as I went the distance.  Then I started thinking about hills.  I had gone up a big hill.  I did not need to do any more.  Did I?

The fact is, Herkimer is not that large, especially if I did not want to cross Route 5, which I did not.  Additionally, I wanted to be at least an hour into my run before I finished my bottle of water and stopped by the spring.  All things considered, I decided my best bet would be to go up the kick-buttest hill in the residential area behind Valley Health.  I suppose I could have gone up the hill to Herkimer College, but I felt more comfortable in the other area.

It was not too awful getting up that long hill, and I was slowly racking up the miles.  I was just over an hour when I refilled my water.  Now where to run?  I thought of a route that would bring me by my beloved Historic Four Corners.  I’ll do that!  Then I added in a few more turns and streets, because I needed to run longer.  Soon I was wishing I had fully charged my phone, because it started making a noise which I was afraid meant low battery.  Please, phone, please, last for me!   At last I was at nine miles!  I was headed down Prospect Street, almost at Bellinger Avenue (not to be confused with Bellinger Street).  I could enter where it said Do Not Enter!  My favorite!

As I headed up my own street, I twisted my arm enough to see my phone.  Map My Run, don’t fail me now!  It did not.  I stopped running when it said 9.31 miles.  Yay!  I was right across from a neighbor sitting on his front stoop, one I often greet as I run by.

“I just ran my Virtual Boilermaker 15K!” I told him.

“Good for you,” he said.

And I just finished my blog post about it.  Phew!  I guess I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.

 

Comedy on the Run

To begin with,  it was not a blister on the bottom of my foot,  it was a sliver.  Apparently I cannot tell the difference without closer examination.   In my defense, it started hurting after a run, not after I had been walking around barefoot or at work.  Metal splinters are an occupational hazard at my place of employment, and, yes, they can find their way into one’s shoes.  But I discovered the splinter this morning, and my purpose now is to write more about yesterday’s run.

Regular readers know I am a friendly sort, and I love to call out greetings to passers-by.  In pre-Covid times, I would stop and pet dogs, but now I am more aware of social distances.

As I ran by the apartment building at the end of my street, I called hello to a couple sitting outside, and they returned the greeting.  As I ran by Trinity Lutheran Church, I saw a lady I knew.  She called out encouragement and I thanked her.  After that, I saw few people till I encountered a little girl riding a bike in the residential area behind Valley Health.  I made my usual joke.

“That’s what I need!  A set of wheels!”

She smiled politely, humoring the crazy old lady.

Going up the long hill, a pick-up truck passed me and pulled into a driveway.  A young man was getting out as I reached it.

“I almost jumped into the back of that truck!” I yelled.  He laughed.

As I mentioned yesterday, it was not as difficult getting to the top of the hill as in previous runs.  Dare I hope I am getting into shape (I mean a shape other than round and puffy)?  Just after I crested the hill, I saw a lady sitting on her front stoop with a stroller next to her.  A very cute dog started barking at me from the stroller.

“Oh, lady,” I said, “Would you push me home in that stroller?”

She laughed, and the dog continued to bark.  Yes, it is Comedy on the Run by Mohawk Valley Girl.  Hey, that is not a bad title.  Or do I flatter myself?

 

I Ran! I Was Tired!

Wednesday afternoon I went running with the intention of making a running commentary post.  I’ll say it was the run that tired me out too much to make said post (there may have been other factors, but as I often say, explanations are so tiresome).  Therefore I sit at work (BEFORE my shift, not when I am supposed to be working), pen in hand (my Tablet is at home), trying to remember the run.

I put my smart phone in the arm band, trying to put it on so that it would NOT rub part of my arm raw (I am so incompetent at these thing) and set out.  I had a vague idea of running up the hill to Herkimer College, but my body was definitely not on board with the plan.  Nevertheless, I persisted.

I have signed up to run the MIni-Maker at Copper City Brewing in Rome, NY on Sept. 13.  Before signing I exchanged a few messages and  comments with the venue and the guy that mapped the route, wondering if it was right for me, or I was right for them.  They emphasized that I had to train.  Well, I have been training right along, but I am not any faster of a runner than I have been at any time these past few years.  They said I could start early, since they want to wrap it up in two hours or less.

With all this in mind, I thought I should perhaps train a little harder.  That is, to not let myself off the hook on a weekday run (as I often do) but to make a good length of time on a challenging course.  Hence, the hill to the college.  Of course I waffled and weaseled but ended up running what I call the kick-butt way up to the college: by the dormitories.  You run up a steep hill, through a parking lot on a more gradual upslope, repeat two or three times (I can’t remember how many, but it seemed like a lot), with the last steep part pretty steep and fairly long.  Or so it seemed to me.  I certainly did a bit of huffing and puffing along the way.

I ran the back way down to the village.  This is currently closed to traffic, so I got to feel all rebellious.  Additionally, I entered where it said, “Do Not Enter,” around a traffic triangle on my way there, and turned left at a “No Left Turn” at the end.  We middle-aged ladies have to get our kicks somehow.

My Map My Run app had dutifully told me when I was at one mile.  My rate was less than 14 1/2 minutes! Score!  It is not a great time, but it is a little better than previous runs.  I picked up speed going downhill, thinking to make further improvements, which I did.  I thought I should try to run three miles, which would take about 45 minutes, less if I kept up my pace.  I have to perception of distances.  All I can do is keep running and let the app track me.  I considered my options.  Up this street? Down that one?

I ran through the high school parking lot, down Bellinger Avenue to Graham, then down Church to Bellinger Street (yes, we have a Bellinger Avenue and Street in our little village; don’t get me started!).  I went by the house to the apartment building two doors down, then up their driveway.  I saw a lady I know sitting out front.  We greeted each other and she praised my running.

I felt pretty happy, because I ended up doing 3 miles in 43 minutes.  I don’t think I can run 15K in less than two hours, but dammit I will get as close to that as I can!

 

I Get My Butt Kicked

I started to make a Running Commentary Post this morning but had a headache.  I wonder if I can do it now.  We shall see.

It was raining when I got up,  around 4:30 (I went to bed early last night), so I turned on the coffee and relaxed for a while.  That also gave me time to drink water.  Water and coffee, it should have been an awesome run!

Of course it was not.  When do things ever go the way I expect them to?  NEVER!  As soon as I started running, my legs started complaining.  What the hell, I had to ask.  I HAVE been running on a regular basis.  I had had it in my head to run the kick-buttest hill in my area.  As I ran toward it, I questioned my intentions.  Never mind, I told myself, just keep going.

On the way to said hill, I went up the hill by Valley Health.  It was hard!  I thought, this is it for me.  I would keep running a long run, but no more hills.  I ran on toward the kick-butt hill but intended to take the last possible turn to avoid it.  Naturally I second guessed myself about this.  How could I train properly if I did not run challenging hills?  Then again, I have plenty of time before my Virtual Boilermaker 15K to run hills.  Then yet again… if dithering burned calories, I would have no problems meeting my weight loss goals.

As I approached the hill and the avoiding turn, I observed a couple of pick-up trucks with some workmen near a house.  I thought I would greet them.  I like to greet people when I run.  The avoiding turn was right before the house they were at.  Oh, heck, I thought to myself, let’s get our butt kicked.

“Good morning, fellas,” I said.  One man turned around and returned the greeting.

“I is about to get my butt kicked,” I said.  He laughed.

And I proceeded to do just that.  This hill goes on and on and up and up.  Yikes!  I have done it a few times in recent memory.  They are not good memories.

However, I persevered and made it to the top.  Yay, me!  What a pleasure to go downhill after!  I went up a couple shorter hills before the end of my run.  I laughed at them.  When I am running with others and we come to a hill, I like to say, “Hill schmill, this ain’t no hill, we got this stinkin’ hill!”

So I ended up being happy I ran the kick-butt hill.  I went on to run for a total of 57 minutes, which is my current longest time (set this past Sunday).  Then I felt tired and headachey for the rest of the day.  What’s that all about?  I thought exercise was supposed to make you feel better!

No matter.  I ran.  I blogged.  I wait to see what tomorrow will bring.

 

Independence Day Run

When I noticed my Army t-shirt in a drawer yesterday, I made up my mind to have an Independence Day Run this morning.  I would wear the Army shirt and run up the hill to the Veterans Memorial at Herkimer College.  It was time to run up that hill again anyways, and it was the day to increase my run time to 44 minutes.  This was going to be great!

I was a little worried about how warm it was when I first got up.  We are having another muggy streak these days.  Oh well, what’s a little extra sweat compared to celebrating our country’s birthday?  I put on a wide headband in hopes of absorbing some of the sweat before it ran into my eyes and made a note to myself to look for some extra-absorbent, exercise-grade headbands for the future.

As I reached German Street, I met a lady taking a walk.  We exchanged good mornings.

“We gotta get out before the heat of the day,” I said.

“That’s what I’m doing,” she said. “It’s beautiful out!”

“Oh, it sure is!”

A short time later I was making a note to myself that I must run more hills.  I ran this one earlier this week (I don’t know when; remember that note to myself to go back to keeping a running journal?  I didn’t do it).  Today it felt as if I hadn’t run it in years!  Crap!  I was gasping for breath. But I persevered and at last I made it to the top.

It feels steeper when you’re on it, and it gets steeper after the curve.

And realized that it continued to slope upwards.  It is amazing to me how my body can detect the most subtle angles when running.  I took my mind off my troubles by continuing to ponder my plans for the Boilermaker Virtual 15K.  I hope to recruit a few friends to meet me along the way with water.  Once I figure out a route.  Various possibilities ran through my mind.

Soon I realized a slight problem.  It was taking a long time to get to the Memorial.  Would I be able to get back home in 44 minutes?  Should I run only for 44 minutes and let part of my cool-down walk take me the rest of the way home?  I would have water; I was carrying a 16 oz. bottle which I intended to refill at the spring.

At last I reached the Memorial!

It’s a lovely little area.

Going down Reservoir Road was a pleasure.  My body appreciates downslopes as much as it suffers on upslopes.  I finished my water shortly before I reached the spring.  A man was there filling a bunch of five gallon buckets, but he let me sneak in to refill my bottle.

One of my favorite spots in Herkimer!

He said he was getting water for his swimming pool.  “I’ve been drinking this water since I was nine years old!”

“I love it,”  I said.  “Thank you!”

I was getting closer to my goal but was further from home.  I ended up running 47 minutes. It is an increase of more than the recommended ten percent, but I think that will be OK.  Boilermaker,  here I come!

 

Walking Where I Run

Determined to make a better blog post today, I put my Tablet into a shoulder bag and set put on a walk.  I had an idea to finally photograph a couple of the hills I sometimes run up.  Accordingly,  I turned left onto German Street and headed towards Herkimer College (previously known as HCCC).

Would it have helped to get closer to the slope?

Out Maple Grove is what I call a minor hill.  It is a bit of an effort.  I turned up the street that Y’s off Maple (alas, I cannot remember its name), where there is a steeper hill I sometimes run.  On the way, I tried to get a better shot of Maple.

Rats! You can’t see the slope any better!

This is steeper than it looks, when you are actually on it.

I walked up the steeper way, getting a little out of breath, and headed towards Lou Ambers Drive, for a shot of a really good hill.

Around that curve, and up a little more, is Herkimer College.

I did not walk up the hill but went down toward German Street,  pausing to take a picture of some green that caught my eye.

It does my tired heart good to see green.

A little further down is the spring I take a drink from when the weather is not too cold.

This is a godsend on long runs.

On the corner of Lou Ambers and German is Salvatore’s Pizzeria and Restaurant, one of our favorite places.

We’ve been getting delivery from them lately.

I continued home, pausing only once more to take a picture of some daffodils.

They were in front of Trinity Lutheran Church.

 

It was a pleasant walk.  I shall have to run those hills again soon.

 

 

Who, Me? Run?

So I went for a run this afternoon, describing the way I move in a most generous fashion. I am still dithering about the Falling Leaves 14K,  and today’s exercise did not further incline me to take the challenge. However, one must take the bad runs to get to the good ones.  I do not despair.

After work I got myself into running clothes and out the door before I had a chance to talk myself out of it.  Earlier I had entertained wild thoughts of running up to Herkimer College.  After all, I am running over an hour on the weekends.  Surely I can handle more of a challenge during the week (I am calling myself Shirley in this context).

A few steps down the sidewalk I thought I was not up to any challenge whatsoever.  I wondered if I was even up to a lousy 20 minute run.  Nevertheless, when I had the chance, I crossed German Street.  This put me on the path to a few different hills. I thought I could manage a hill. A small hill.

I ran up the hill by Valley Health.  As I ran up it, in fact, on the last few times I have run up it, I reflected that it is not an inconsiderable hill. I really must take a walk with my Tablet and take some pictures of these hills.  My readers will either say, “Why, yes, that is a hill,” or “What a wuss!  That’s no hill!”

When I got to the top of the hill, my legs felt like overcooked macaroni!  And I was less than eight minutes into the run!  Crap!  I continued, hoping to avoid any more major upslopes.  There are some really good hills in that area.  I hope to run them again but was not into it today.

As I ran on, eventually my legs started to feel a little better.  I reminded myself of how I sometimes don’t hit the I Can Rock This stage till a good 20 minutes into the run.  I further reminded myself that I have found I can keep running for just about as long as I decide to.

Soon my body was urging me to decide on a SHORT run. I ignored it. My legs felt better or worser by turns, but I persevered and ended up running for 26 minutes.  I did not feel terrific on my cool down walk.  When I took my shower, I wished I had one of those old lady stools so I could sit down.

So, yes, I can be a big baby about these things.  I comfort myself by reflecting that (a) I did so run and (b) I made a blog post about it.  Perhaps I can improve on the run and the blog in the future.

 

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.

 

Fourth Time the Charm?

I am hoping some of the readers of Monday’s post are curious to know if I once again found that running four days in a row is the Way to Go. I’m afraid I’m still on the fence, but I ran and thought I’d make a Running Commentary post.

The weather reports said it was cooler out today, you’ll need a jacket.  I didn’t go that far, but I did put a sweatshirt on my deck to wear on my cool-down walk if needed, and I made sure to wear a headband to cover my ears.

Right away it did not feel terrific. My legs were not happy and my knees hurt.  What the hell, body? I thought.  However, as long as I had gotten that far, I would continue.   I could make it a short run.  You can do those things when you run a few days in a row.

Kids were walking to school.  Maybe I’ll try leaving earlier next time.  We don’t usually  get in each other’s way, but I feel a little self-conscious,  especially when I am headed in the same direction as them and it takes me forever to catch up. I saw a young woman cross German Street, which was what I wanted to do, since I had it in my head to run up the hill by Valley Health.

My good time to cross made me practically run into her.  She looked amused (I probably do look comical) and wished me a good morning.  As I ran on, I heard behind me a car stop and offer the woman a ride.  From her grateful “Yes, please,” I hypothesized that she was headed up the hill to Herkimer College. I may be running that hill myself later this week.

For today,  however, I contented myself with the smaller hill.  It was enough of an effort at the time.  I continued on into the residential area, avoiding the hills and working my way back in the direction I came from.

As I went, it became not a bad run.  I don’t think I got a dose of endorphins,  but I did feel some of the antidepressant effects of exercise.  My legs settled into things, even my knees,  and my breathing felt OK.

I ended up running for 25 minutes.  As I started my cool-down walk,  I said good morning to a neighbor sitting on her front stoop.

“Good morning,” she answered.  “Do you feel good after your run?”

“I sure do,” I said.  “And the best part is the walk around the block after.”

I did feel good.  I wonder how running five days in a row would feel.  Maybe I’ll see how many days I can go.  As always,  I hope you’ll stay tuned.

 

Winning Run on Wrist to Forehead Sunday

Today I experience the melancholy of knowing I must go back to work tomorrow (YES, I AM grateful I have a job!  Sheesh!), but earlier today I felt some awesome endorphins so thought I would try a Running Commentary post instead of the promised Wrist to Forehead Sunday (but tune in tomorrow for a potentially sad Monstrous Monday!).

I was up prior to 6 a.m. (not a WHOLE lot prior, of course) so was ready for my run prior to seven.  I sure will miss running before the heat of the day when I have to be to work by 6:30, but that’s a problem for a different day.  I wasn’t feeling real energetic so did not know if I would increase my run by the recommended ten percent, as I like to do on a Sunday.  That would be OK. I just needed to get out there, because I did not run yesterday (I was recruiting my energies for the play) and I will probably not run tomorrow (hello! Back to work, 90 degrees, what sort of an iron woman do you think I am?).  I carried a bottle of water with me, though, in case it was along run.  Must fight dehydration!

I did not really feel up to major hills, like the one to Herkimer College, but I headed towards Main Street.  That is a pretty good hill with two chances to turn off it before you go all the way.  Of course the devil on one shoulder tried to talk me out of running any hills at all, but the angel on the other won and soon I was puffing up the hill.  I ended up going all the way to the end of Highland Avenue.  The steepest part of that hill is the beginning anyways, there are stretches of level ground and even a little downhill.  Additionally, I had not run that way in a while and enjoyed the chance to reacquaint myself with the houses out that way.  I was happy to see the gorilla-headed dummy still sitting at a table in front of one house.  There was a nice table cloth and some flowers on the table, which I did not remember seeing, so that was nice.

Going down Steuben Hill certainly felt pleasant.  I met a few cars, most of which nicely moved over or slowed down. I gave those people the “thank you” wave.  I found a nickle, which I picked up and slipped between my sports bras (PLEASE do not say, “TMI”).  I saw a couple beer cans and a water bottle, so I could have picked up more nickles, but that would have been awkward.

It was nice to sip water now and then as I ran.  I had it in mind to run down German Street to the spring on Lou Ambers Drive for a re-fill but was not sure if I would have time.  I was pretty sure by now that I would be able to keep going for 47 minutes, which was 10 percent longer than my last longest run.  I know I could run for longer, but I don’t know how bad of an idea it is to increase by more than the recommended 10 percent.  It is perhaps clear by now that I am not particularly scientific about my work-outs, but I try not to actively do harm to myself.  I have, as they say, only one of me.  Then I realized:  I could stop running and start my cool-down walk before I reached my house.  After all, I already had a bottle of water in my hand.  I really like that water on my cool-down walk!

I was feeling pretty terrific a little more than mid-way through my run.  It may have been endorphins.  It may have been relief to be running downhill instead of up.  It may have been happiness of being able to run as far as I wanted. Or it may have been that I finally sweated out enough toxins to let in the joy.  Who cares?  I felt good!  Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to just beat up your body for a while.  When I got to 47 minutes and stopped (less than a block from home, by the way), I wanted to raise my fists in the air in triumph, and have somebody sing, “We Are the Champions.”  Of course there was no one there to sing for me, so I just kept walking and sipping.

It is by now, as I write this, way too hot to run or even walk comfortably.  The endorphins have predictably worn off, but in writing this I have recaptured some of the feeling of accomplishment and the joy of all that sweat.  In fact, I am sweating again, but not from effort.  No matter.  It is Sunday and I did not make a Wrist to Forehead Sunday post.  I’m going to call that a win.