- Sunday was my last long-ish run of this training cycle, and I decided to treat it as a long tempo of sorts — trying to finish eight miles at under a 9-minute average. Knowing my bobbing/weaving/very-much-not-running-anything-close-to-tangents tendencies, I’m almost certainly going to be adding some distance to the race next week, so I’m going to have to average a little faster than the magic 9:09 if I want a shot at sub-2. The route I picked has a loooooong fast downhill that’s easier than anything I’ll encounter next week — but it ends with 2.5 miles of uphill that’s far harder than Miami’s inclines. I ended up with something like an 8:54 average, but the really thrilling part was that my first mile was the slowest. Plus! This run included a wildly unofficial 10K PR — 54:50-something-or-other. It’s not like I’m expecting to hit Miami dropping 8:30s or anything, but this was a solid run where I found a good pace on the first half and didn’t collapse physically or mentally when I saw the numbers creeping up during the much-tougher second half.
- With that, I’ve basically done all the work I plan to do in preparation for this race. I’m planning a three- or four-mile tempo on Tuesday and then a super-short, super-easy jog on Thursday or maybe Friday (depending on when I actually get around to packing for the trip), with some swimming in between. Considering that this (still pretty paltry, I realize) mileage is the highest I’ve run consistently in a long time, I’m feeling good, though my right IT band and weird left toe keep sending out warning signals; I’m glad they’ll have a chance to quiet down this week. I still have leaps and bounds to go in becoming a smarter, better-trained runner, but I think I’ve done as well for myself in this round as I ever have. To the best of my current abilities, I’ve controlled what I can control.
- Speaking of what I can control, though …
Look. I grew up in a place with real seasons, but I’ve only ever been a runner in San Francisco. And we have it pretty freaking good here. My Sunday run was sunny and 50 degrees. But temperatures above 70 start to make me feel twitchy; I just so rarely run in them, and when I do, it’s with approximately zero percent humidity. I’ve been checking the Miami forecast (daily, on two separate weather websites…) for the past week, and the one above is actually one of the better ones I’ve seen; the worst one was 81 degrees and incredibly humid. I can’t control the weather; I can only do what I can do on the day and blah blah blah, and really, 70s and rainy sounds OK unless it’s so muggy my little Californian lungs can’t deal. But if you’ve got any tips on running in warm weather, send them my way, mmkay?
- I’ve now ridden my bike to the ocean and back twice. It, and I, have stayed upright, even though last week’s ride involved enough drizzle to make things dicey and this week’s easily tripled my first ride’s volume of cars, other cyclists, dogs, skateboards, and general mayhem. I’m getting more comfortable stopping, starting, and shifting; I even rode on real streets with real traffic for about three blocks on my most recent ride, until a car made a left turn in front of me and I immediately freaked out and hopped off. The one thing I cannot do on a bike, for even one second, is zone out. It feels like the first few times I drove a car, when I couldn’t imagine my field of vision would ever be wide enough to let me see all the things I needed to see. On a bike, I feel like I have to identify every obstacle, and guess what each of them might do next, and after that, and after that; it’s not riding so much as scenario-planning. And it’s exhausting. I think I just have to accept that riding won’t be OMG The Most Fun EVAR!!! for a while and keep chipping away.
- On Saturday, I volunteered as a running buddy with Girls on the Run at the Lollipop 5K. The race (and the running buddy practice I attended a couple of weeks back) felt chaotic, but I imagine that getting hundreds of girls and coaches and buddies and families to be on the same page about anything is no easy task, so I’m trying to keep that chaos in perspective. The girl I ran with at practice didn’t come to the race, so I found myself wandering around the start area hoping a coach would need a spare running buddy, and eventually one did; I ended up partnering with a chatty 8-year-old who wanted to run from big tree to big tree, walk from little tree to little tree, and do something with rocks that involved bouts of skipping. She also wanted to tell scary stories. She was cute, but wow, I am glad I’m not an 8-year-old girl. The most striking thing about both girls I buddied is how casually and constantly they threw around the word “fat.” (“I don’t like running because I’m fat.” “Oh, there’s my mom. She’s fat.”) Running has made me much more comfortable in my own skin and with the things my body can do, and while I’m far from the slimmest runner, I hope that my presence provided a little bit of “anybody/any body can be a runner” inspiration…but in reality, I was probably the “fat running buddy.” Girls, man. What a rough age.
- Finally … I was supposed to run with a friend on Sunday, but ankle issues forced her out last-minute. Luckily, I always have a backup playlist, and this one was decent.
“Are You Out There” reeks of high school (in a good way) and turns out to be an amazing running song, because I end up replaying funny stories from my teenage years instead of stressing out about the hills I’m facing down. I lucked out situationally with the Best Coast and Camera Obscura songs giving me some sweet, lady-sung pop as I ran along the ocean. And man, that Alaska song? That’s a serious college DJ throwback, and it’s been playing on a loop in my head for hours. Not bad for a thrown-together set. Next stop: race playlist.