Almost below freezing today. It’s supposed to snow tonight, but will it? I just heard on the radio (Jazz 88) that it could be “slushy snow.” Awesome.
My run was good. Today I decided to pick up the pace, which was hard. The pace (avg. 8:15) wasn’t faster than I’ve run in the past, but since I’m running a lot slower these days (9:30-10:00 pace), it felt hard. When I run as fast as I did today, I don’t experience much. And I don’t think much, just: when will this be over? and what would happen if I slowed way down or stopped?
I’ve been running slower since mid December. I decided to try it out because I’ve been having difficulty for years being “trained up” enough for my longer races, like the 10 mile or 1/2 marathon. I run too fast when I train and have difficulty running long distances or sustaining lots of miles for more than a few weeks.
I thought running slow would be hard. With a fairly steady pace of 8:30-8:40 for over three years, I couldn’t imagine running 1 to 1.5 minutes slower. Physically it seemed difficult and mentally it seemed impossible.
But it’s not. It’s actually great. And I don’t even care when other people pass me. I’m enjoying the running more and recovering faster.
As the weeks and months go by, I’ll see if running slow helps me run longer and stronger…and maybe even faster. Initially, it felt wrong and scary. What if I slow down and can’t ever run fast enough? Is running this slow doing anything? But it’s starting to make sense.
I like when I can break a bad habit (running too fast) and start building up a new one (slower and stronger).
an afterthought: Rereading this entry, I have an immediate reaction: Ugh, this log is pretty boring. I wonder, why am I writing such boring accounts of my running? But then I remember that part of this project is to be more honest in how I express myself. Guess what? My running self is boring and mundane and fixates on specific habits and practices. And that’s okay.
minnehaha creek path/mississippi river road bike path
A gray day. Warmish, but gloomy. Days like today make it hard for me to see. It’s not really dark outside, just overcast. But because of my macular dystrophy, overcast feels a lot darker. And it makes everything look fuzzy, like I’m seeing it through a slightly dirty piece of plastic.
Running really isn’t a problem when my vision feels limited like this. I can see well enough. And, since I’m mostly running on paths, I only rarely have to worry about cars. But it still feels…weird.
I wish I could articulate the sense of disconnection I feel when my sight is fuzzy. It’s as if I’m running in my own bubble. I’d like to work on developing my other senses to compensate for this disconnection and to embrace experiencing the world differently: to hear it or smell it or touch it, not just see it.
36 degrees mississippi river road bike path/lake street bridge
It was nice to run over the Lake street bridge. In the winter, the path on the bridge is often icy, so I usually try to avoid it. But, with the warmer weather, everything has melted. The bridge was clear. Weird. I keep having to remind myself that it’s only January and that we have a lot of winter left.
I didn’t think about much while I was running. This makes for a boring blog post about my run, but a welcome respite from my constant thinking during the rest of my day. It’s nice not to think.
A great run. Still sloppy, with big puddles, but nice. Warmish. Overcast. Not much wind. A slow, easy pace. As I ran, my eyes fixed on the path ahead and everything seemed fuzzy. Was this caused by my vision problems, or just because I was tuning things out as I was running? I’m not sure, but I liked the feeling of the fuzziness. I was dazed, in a fog. A bit besides myself.
I’m scheduled to do this run, my long run for the week, on Saturday, but it’s supposed to rain (RAIN!?) tomorrow and Saturday and I don’t want to run for almost 90 minutes in chilly rain. My love of the messiness has it’s limits.
I ran along the river road path, towards downtown Minneapolis. There are two monster hills on this path, around miles 4 and 5. These hills are fairly steep and long and intimidating. They’re part of the Mississippi Gorge and lead you from the bottom of the gorge to the top of the bluff. Today, they weren’t so bad. I didn’t want to cry or collapse when I got to the top. I just kept running slowly and steadily and pretty soon my body had forgotten that it had just climbed for about 1/3 of a mile.
I know there is a lesson to be learned (or at least articulated and analyzed) in my success in climbing those hills. And I’m sure that it’s significant for my thinking about undisciplining myself and breaking (down) bad habits. But right now, after running 8.5 miles, I’m too tired to think of it or write about it. Maybe I should rethink when I write these entries so that they’re not right after my run.
minnehaha creek path/mississippi river road bike path
Warm. Sloppy. Goopy. Wet. It’s great for my spirit when it warms up in the winter, but not great for the running paths. Especially if those paths have, until yesterday, been covered with snow. Huge puddles and almost melted chunks of snow that seep into your shoes, soaking your socks. Yuck. But I’m not complaining. I can handle the mess. It’s not that hard to run through puddles and it’s easier than running on a trail filled with loosely-packed snow or jagged shards of ice.
Besides, running in messy conditions reminds of a time when I refused to get messy. It was at a soccer game when I was 8. Here’s how I wrote about it in a Cowbird story:
When I was 8, I played on a co-ed soccer time. I loved it. Even though I haven’t played since I was 12, I still have dreams about being out on that soccer field. Before one particular game, it rained…a lot. The field was a giant mud pit. Most of the players, 8 year-old boys and girls, were sliding everywhere and gleefully charging into the mud. Not me. My sisters had promised to take me to the video arcade (this was 1982) after the game so I didn’t want to get dirty. I’m sure that I had fun at that arcade, but when I think back on that day (in the fall? spring?), I feel regret. Why didn’t I go into that mud? It looked like so much fun.
Perhaps running into the mess (instead of avoiding it), lessens my regret about what Sara, age 8 was unwilling to do.
XT = Cross Training. Biked for 30 minutes today while watching the men’s marathon from the Rio Olympics on YouTube.
Biking for 30 minutes on a stand, in the front room, seems like it would be tedious. And it has been in past winters. I’m not sure why it’s easier this year. It’s ironic that I’m biking more this winter now that I’m not planning to do any big triathlons this summer–just a super sprint with my 11 year old daughter in August.
Biking with Best’s?
I’ve struggled with biking lately, even before I was diagnosed this past August with Best’s disease (vitelliform macular dystrophy). I’ve had trouble seeing the path when it was too sunny or some cars when I was trying to cross the road or bikers approaching me on the path. When I learned that my central vision was seriously fucked up and that I couldn’t see those things because my rods and cones were scrambled, I lost the little bit of confidence I had in biking with any speed. How can I race in a triathlon if there’s a chance I won’t see another biker or a pothole or anything else that first appears in the parts of my central vision that are already totally scrambled?
Technically I was supposed to run 8 miles today, but I’m okay with 7.12. 8 was a bit ambitious and would have made my running total for the week just slightly too much. Plus, I’m proud of myself for running as much as I did. My route included two monster hills and I managed to run up both of them at a steady pace without dying…or worse, stopping to walk.
I’m mostly kidding about the walking. I can see all sorts of reasons why walking during a training run or a race would be a good idea. For me, right now, walking is a bad idea. Stopping to walk in past runs/races encouraged me to run too fast. My goal right now is to run slow and steady and to not stop.
As I was running, I listened to the final chapters of Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He hates walking and considers doing it during a race to be a failure. So much so that at the end of the book he describes what he wants his tombstone to read: “At least he never walked.” I’m not sure what to make of that line and of Murakami’s hard and fast refusal to ever walk. Is it too rigid? A bit arrogant? Just a personal goal that he doesn’t apply to (and use to judge) others?
I switched my 8 mile long run out so that Scott and I could run together. We ran really slow, which was nice. It allowed me to watch other runners as they passed us. I like watching runner’s legs move as they run, especially the good runners. The rhythm of their feet steadily rising and falling is mesmerizing. One runner looked like he was almost floating across the snow-packed trail. I love witnessing confident bodies moving through space. It’s such a beautiful thing to see.
2 degrees/feels like -6
minnehaha creek path/mississippi river road bike path
Of course, just after proclaiming on the about page that “I love running outside in the cold,” I ran outside in the cold and didn’t really love it. It felt colder than -6. My hands were freezing for the first two miles and it was hard to breathe through my nose. I suppose it didn’t help that I was listening to the audio book for Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and he was describing his miserable experience in the second half of an all day (62 mile!) race that he endured years ago just as I was feeling my most miserable. Maybe next time I’ll listen to a running playlist instead.
Sometimes I listen to audio books, occasionally I don’t listen to anything, but most of the time I listen to music while I’m running. Cheesy music. Nostalgic music. Music that only makes sense when I’m running. Over the five 1/2 years that I’ve been running, I’ve created a lot of playlists and listened to a lot of music. Here’s the current one:
Hey Ladies/Beasties Boys
The Raiders March/John Williams
Don’t Stop Me Now/Queen
Without You/feat. Usher
Get Lucky/Daft Punk
Ride Like the Wind/Christopher Cross
I Made it Through the Rain/Barry Manilow
Back in Black/ACDC
I’m Going to Go Back There Someday/Gonzo
The Best of Times/Styx
Ordinary People/John Legend
Learn to Fly/Foo Fighters
Gonna Fly Now (Theme for Rocky)/Bill Conti
Don’t Dream it’s Over/Crowded House
Big Shot/Billy Joel
Pinball Number Count: 4/Pointer Sisters
Uptown Funk/feat. Bruno Mars
Hollaback Girl/Gwen Stefani
I’m Still Standing/Elton John
Summer Breeze/Seals & Crofts
Another One Bites the Dust/Queen
Hot for Teacher/Van Halen
Very eclectic. No logical order and attention to pace here. Just songs that, at some point in my life, I have loved and want to listen to again. I usually put this list on shuffle.
Since I’ve been using this one for a while, tt’s probably time to create a new one. Two requirements: it must have Barry Manilow and at least one Muppet song on it. I’m thinking “Copacabana” and “Can You Picture That.”
I’m on week one, day four of my training schedule. It’s my only day of rest. I don’t want to rest; I want to run, even though it’s 9 degrees outside. But I will rest because I know that my body, especially my right knee, the one that periodically gives me trouble and has a bone spur, needs it.
Not wanting to rest makes me think of an unpublished blog post that I recently found:
According to my mom, when I was a kid, I hated going to sleep. I wanted to be up all of the time, active, doing things. She claimed that, on more than one occasion, I fell asleep in a running position. Now I’m middle-aged and I don’t have trouble falling asleep, but I’m still restless and I end up waking up a lot. Restless. Legs that ache with a desire to move, to go. Somewhere. I don’t have wanderlust, just a need to move. I feel trapped in the bed, just sitting there, immobile. I used to think that my restlessness was because I was no longer as active as I used to be. Around the time I became an academic and my mom started to slowly die, I stopped exercising my body. All of my energy was used to think as an academic and to survive raising two young kids while witnessing my mom dying. But now, I’m exercising. I’ve been running for many years and swimming and biking. I work out a lot. But it hasn’t stopped my restlessness. Sometimes I feel like a caged animal, pacing around. I remember witnessing my mom do the same thing. We would be watching tv, maybe a movie, and all of a sudden, she would get up and just start walking around the room. I do that now.
Where does this restlessness come from and what do I do with it?