Track Work! Who Knew?

So as Facebook continues to haunt me about who I use to be, I steeled myself to try to do seven miles on Saturday. I had already given myself permission to do only six and a half, but seven was the goal. I continue to struggle with my neighborhood run. I think it is the hills, so I keep looking for flat ground. I am also transitioning from my phone to my watch. This is weird, because I feel attached to Runkeeper and my phone. I like to be available to my children, but my new phone is a beast. I hate carrying it when I run. Plus, now that I have figured out my watch, I can use it to pace myself, slow myself down and measure my distance. (Although my phone has this cool heart monitoring sensor on it.)

When I did six miles I felt moderately successful running Valley Green. Besides being a beautiful run, it is relatively flat. There is a slight decline heading towards the city, but on the way back it pretty much feels flat. So the first four miles were not only relatively easy, I felt happy and strong. The last two return miles were more difficult but doable. My original plan had been to just add a mile to that.

Copy success is one of the guidelines in the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard. But there is a funny thing about success, it seems to become an immediate legend in my head. And it is never repeatable in quite the same way. So, when I go back it is almost instantly more difficult. And I struggle. I continue to run the same neighborhood most of the time, and even if I change the route I have a pretty good sense of distance without even having to check my phone. I think this comes from all the neighborhood run math I do to make the run go by faster. How far is it from telephone pole to telephone pole. (Remember calling them telly poles?) How long are most driveways? (.01 by the way).  What about cross streets? You know what I mean. Two years of this and I have a pretty good map in my head. Anyway, the point is, I know where I am going to get tired and where I am going to struggle. At least, I think my brain expects to struggle during these times. So I think it becomes like self fulfilling prophecy. For instance, I always hate to run up this one street. It seems so incredibly steep to me. If you walked this street you wouldn’t feel that way, but it is actually a steady incline. I checked it out when I was biking. So now, whenever I run it, I expect to be tired. And I am.

Anyway, long story endless, I decided not to go back to Valley Green. After the last few weeks of feeling like no success I didn’t want to ruin the memory of a good run. I decided to go to the track. It is flat and it is soft. And it is close. But I knew that running twenty eight times around the track might just bore the hell out of me, so I used the same strategy I use on the treadmill. Speed drills. This may seem like a dumb strategy since I am going for distance, but I thought it would make the time go, and if I couldn’t do it, then I would just keep going. It was a way of chunking up a relentlessly boring run.  One way or another I was getting around that track twenty eight times even if I had to walk.

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So the plan was two miles at twelve minute miles and then alternate half mile at a ten minute mile and half a mile at an eleven or twelve minute mile for four miles and then one more mile at twelve. It was a great run. The weather was beautiful, I was even a little chilly starting out. And I wasn’t bored. I felt happy.  I managed to do my faster half miles around a nine and a half minute mile and my recovery halves around ten thirties.  I even threw in an extra speed lap around the track. Now I know for some people this isn’t fast, and it isn’t hard. But for me I literally threw my hands up in the air when I finished. Although as the day wore on I became seriously tired (and maybe a little cranky), at that moment I felt like a superstar!!!!

Wait, I Like this Right?

So, I think I am registered for the Broad Street. I never received an email, but they did take my money, so I’m going with yes. Which I know I should be delighted about, but suddenly ten miles seems ridiculous. And I wonder if I will ever again meet up with the woman who really believed that if she trained hard enough she would get down to an eight minute mile. Yeah, my times are nowhere close.

This woman actually likes churning it out on the treadmill. Why? Because when I start to get tired I can decrease the incline. It’s amazing how much easier that can make things. I can play with the buttons. Nothing seems all that far. And I have myself convinced that after the first seven minutes I am fine. Which, I kind of am. I also go so incredibly slow on the treadmill that no body would get really tired. And I only go a little over three miles. So, easy.

I keep telling myself that time is not important. I keep telling myself that my first priority is just to amp up my milage and not worry about how fast I am going. Then I get one of those posts from Facebook that say last year at this time I was running nine miles at just around a 9:30 mile and I want to put my head down. This year I am trying to find as many flat roads as I can. This year I drive to my run, instead of popping out my door, because there are flat roads beyond these here hills and I am willing to find them. This year, just getting out the door is a feat! (hah, see what I did there!)

So this morning, even though my original plan was to go to the gym by five so I could have about an hour’s peace before my children woke up, instead when the alarm went off I decided to stay in bed. It is, after all, the first day of spring break. I deserve to sleep. And the big reason that I stayed in bed? Wait for it. My new phone. It confuses me. It is too big. I know. It doesn’t make sense. But I looked at it and looked away. My old blue iPhone is now far away and I felt lost without it. This new one, is just too big. It’s spring break. I can run outside, where I am suppose to run anyway. Roll over, hot flash, drift back to sleep. Truth, exact turn of events at 4:04 this morning. I know TMI.

So, here I sit, thinking about folding the clothes, wondering about carrying my new phone in my hand, that does not have Runkeeper on it. And it has a case that covers the screen because it has a fancy pen and I had these great ideas and really it is the first purchase I have made in a long time that I didn’t even consider how it would effect my running. Or Biking for that matter, Holy Shit! I wonder if it will fit in my bike case. Damn. Maybe I should take it back.

The truth is, I am closing in on two years of running, with some biking thrown in over the summer. And the novelty is starting to wear. (Took awhile didn’t it?) It is often harder to get myself out the door. It doesn’t occupy the center of my universe anymore. But I still want it to be part of me, the me I really am not the me I think I am after reading Runners World. It needs to settle into the fabric of my identity, which means it will need to meld into the rest of my life instead of always being the first priority.

On some level, this is a good thing and important to maintaining it. However, it is also hard to come to terms with the fact that I am not, really in fact, an athlete. You can laugh, I know it is ridiculous. I am a teacher who sometimes likes to run, but mostly runs because I want to be healthy. And thin. That is the truth. And sometimes the truth ain’t pretty.

I have lost just about three pound, not six. I have four days to lose three, but well Easter and Mimosas are on the horizon, so if I don’t gain another one I’ll be in bonus land. I think I am moving a little faster and I did make six miles, not last week but the week before. Last week I had friends over on Friday night, so long story short I did not run on Saturday. Yeah, at some point the fire has definitely gone from a raging inferno to a flicker.

So, in about an hour I will try to do four miles. After I download Runkeeper to the mammoth thing masquerading as a phone. That I won’t be able to see, which may be good. Okay, enough rambling. Clothes and four miles here I come. Maybe I’ll burn extra calories carrying this thing.