First, I am aware that my Hood to Coast recaps were…quite long. I had no internet in my house for about a week – the week I was writing the recaps – so, I was just excited to finally post what I had written when I made it to the library! It might be nice to go back and remember all those details later, anyway.
September has always been an interesting month for me. That doesn’t necessarily mean interesting things are happening in my life, but I always seem to be dealing with something. Consequently, I had not been able to run during the month of September since 2010. Not one step. To make matters worse, the only good Septembers since I began running seriously (in 2006) were 2006 and 2009. So, I had not had a good, or event decent, September of running in four years. Here’s what happened….
2006 – first year of cross country, was pretty awesome but I did have some mysterious foot pain – I didn’t really know what I was doing, relatively speaking
2007 – definitely had an iron deficiency and didn’t know what it was, felt horrible running throughout and ended the month with a stress fracture (my first)
2008 – freshman year of college, stress fracture in femur, could not run all month
2009 – finally, a good September of running (stress fracture didn’t come until the first week of October…)!
2010 – I ran…but had an iron deficiency and was ridiculously sore and tired every day
2011 – stress fracture in my foot all month, senior year, very frustrating
2012 – still recovering from hip stress fracture, couldn’t run August 3 – October 3
Now, you might understand why being able to run in September 2013 is a very big deal to me. I am so grateful I am running right now, and feeling as good as I am is just a bonus! September should theoretically be a great month: a new beginning, in terms of classes and things, better weather for training, wearing jeans again, my BIRTHDAY, Oktoberfest beers…but obviously, it has developed quite a stigma for itself. Not cool. I don’t doubt that my autumn running history is directly related to the seasonal affective disorder that creeps up on me at some point each year. I’m sure I’ll write more later about how I’m hoping to combat this problem this year (I say that every year though…easier said than done in the end); for now here is how my September of running has started: with a XC race, a workout, and a PERFECT run.
Well, this was August 31, but I ran a cross country 5k! I had a sinus infection, probable fever, and did not wear spikes due to an unfortunate mix-up (I was really looking forward to wearing them), but I still did it and it was pretty fun. I also didn’t get to warm up due to a last-minute race time switch with the guys’ race! There is a meet at the start of my college team’s cross country season each year in which the alumni are invited to participate and race against our younger counterparts. It used to be Blue vs. Gold vs. Alumni, with no official results. Usually the Alumni team would actually be pretty good; I remember in 2009 they beat both halves (“Blue” and “Gold”) of our real team. I was excited to be a part of that finally, as I was still injured last year and didn’t even go. But…only two other alumni from the women’s team showed up to run. I was disappointed by that, but obviously I came to run and so I did. I forgot how hard XC was….the grass feels like it’s holding you back so much compared to the roads! I admit that given the circumstances I definitely lost sight of my total competitive nature and did not go all-out, but I ended up running 21:12 which I was satisfied with. It was nice to know I could always run around that pace these days no matter the circumstances. That was not the case in the past, so that’s a victory. I went on a 4+ mile cooldown and realized I was excited to return to Intervals workouts on Tuesday, and long runs on the weekends, instead of all these races.
Down ladder workout
I finally got to run one of my favorite workouts on Tuesday, rather than coach it! The workout was run at a pond with a ~570-meter path around it that is part dirt, part pavement. The workout was a down ladder: 4 laps, 3 laps, 2 laps, 1 lap, 1 lap. It ended up being ladies’ night – only girls showed up to run. I tried using my Garmin the entire time to take splits because I SOLVED THE PROBLEM! I just need to hit the “Page” button to see the running time for the current (manual) interval on the screen. I’m really glad I figured this out. The only problem was I didn’t take it off auto-lap before the workout, but at least I knew that, and just had to do some math later. The weather was awesome and my stomach finally cooperated. I ended up averaging about 6:38/mile for all the intervals (about 6:45 for the 4-lapper and 6:19 for the 1-lappers; somewhere in between for the in-between-lappers). After, I had one of those cooldowns that made me want to run forever (but I didn’t, my workout buddies were waiting for me and so was pizza…). The words that came to mind that night were, running has saved the day again. Like a good friend that comes to save you from your thoughts just by being there.
A perfect run
On Thursday, a perfect run was in the making. I could feel it. I had the day off work randomly, the weather was perfect, my legs felt good, and I had already done my faster workout of the week. Time to play. In my mind I was set to drive to a park and hit up some trails for 7-8 miles, but then I realized I didn’t want to run on trails (gasp). I wanted to do something similar to what I had done the Thursday before: get in a solid-paced run on roads. After all, that’s where I will be racing. As I said, I didn’t have Internet so I couldn’t map anything…so I decided to wing it. I rode my bike to the closest canal path entrance, locked it up, and ran. I had a general idea of what I was doing, so I wasn’t concerned I would end up running 15 miles or something. The result…
I felt AWESOME. These splits aren’t exactly super fast, but the point is, I could have kept going forever, and gotten faster with each mile. If I could run Boston 2014 feeling like that…the possibilities would be endless. I didn’t want the run to end, but I knew as I approached where I had stashed my bike, I was reaching the exact amount of miles I should do that day anyway, so I stopped at an hour. Parts of this run were in the same area where I did my 18-miler (okay, 17.8-miler…) in April, so maybe that helped to fuel the mental aspect of the run. What also made this seemingly normal run awesome was that I had never done that loop before, and didn’t even map it. I think I need to do this more often this fall…I fall into a trap of thinking I’m keeping things interesting by running on trails…but eventually I run all the trails. Now I know that mapping out random new routes on roads – by my feet and not Gmap Pedometer – can be just as exciting.
Tomorrow I’m planning on heading to my old Sunday morning stomping grounds and my favorite local mountain for my first double-digit long run since the marathon!
Cheers to running in September AT LAST!