My friend Danny has graciously caved into my begging and agreed to be my running coach from afar, which is awesome because he has spent a lot of time around competitive running (whereas I just kind of jumped into it once, and have never actually been coached), has a sister who is one of the country’s best 1500m runners, and he’s much more conservative than I about taking care of his body. He actually said to me, after excitedly reporting that he had run 14 miles: “Lauren, that is serious distance, I truly feel you need to be healthy mentally, physically, and probably even spiritually to undertake distances over a half…the body wasn’t made to do that” <- lifted directly from gchat. This is a guy I need on my side, keeping me in one piece. Also, he pushed me to enter the UMass Dash n Dine 5k in April where I PRed by over a minute. I have a bias towards longer races and normally won’t sign up for a short one unless I have a good reason. So I guess you could say that Danny brings out the best runner that I can be.
Anyway, I’ve been instructed by my new coach to keep my runs to 3-5 miles, long runs not over 6 for the first two weeks. Two days on, one day off (got this little tidbit on Friday…you’ll notice that I did not abide by it until then). After two weeks, we’ll re-assess.
So Tuesday was the day I learned I am allowed to run again. Tuesday I went for a quick spin around Audobon (1.9 mi, 16:13, 8:32 pace). I also had a failed attempt at running with the dog – he cuts you off, takes up the entire sidewalk, slows wayyyy down then speeds up as you do only to slow down again once he’s in front. Picture the WORST human running partner you can imagine, then add them stopping to pee on nearly every bit of vegetation and almost pulling you over to chase after lizards. He’s a goofy, annoying pup but I love him.
Wednesday I decided to go ahead and make it two laps around the park (no dog), and made it around a tad bit faster but still wayyyy slower than I’ve run in a long time. Still, running is running. This recovery is tough stuff. 2.8 mi, 31:15, 8:24 pace.
Thursday I planned out a run from the gym, a total of 4 miles, during which I had some weird internal conflict. 3.99 mi, 29:29, 7:22 pace. Luckily, I overcame that issue and saw the first glimpse of semi-normal pace. When I plugged in my time for the run and saw that, I felt that burning of excitement right under my sternum that happens when something really awesome but really uncertain happens. Maybe I didn’t lose as much as I thought I did!
On Friday I didn’t have to get to work until lunch time, so I headed out for a run before it got too hot. My definition of too hot has had to be modified a lot since I got here, because it is always too hot. Overnight lows are in the high 70s pretty much every night, and it generally reaches 80 (feels like 86!) by 8:30AM. In my book, I call that “miserable”. However, there are plenty of runners here that have absolutely no regard for the fact that this city is somewhat akin to Hades, and they run at exactly noon in zero shade down the St. Charles streetcar line. If these people can do it, my level of insanity needs to be amped up a notch. So, I headed out for a 3-miler following a path I took with Louie on a walk on Tuesday and tried to ignore the fact that I was melting. I felt like crap from the sun and my right shin was a bit achy starting out, but I ended up doing not so bad 3.2 mi, 23:17, 7:29 pace.
Saturday I was lost in a black hole of homesickness, or hillsickness, or anywhere-but-here-sickness. New Orleans is hot, crowded, and there are no mountains. What the hell am i doing here? Really, the issue was that I was prevented from taking a nice long morning walk because of some maintenance men, then I had to brave the traffic to go to my least favorite place: the mall. All of this on approximately 5 hours of sleep is enough to make any outdoor-lover, cool weather-craver, shopping-hater go crazy. I followed the mall (4 hours of zero success) with approximately an hour of wallowing in self pity. I do not recommend this. Go outside, walk around, find some friends, or do what I ended up doing eventually: go to the gym. I spent some time on the elliptical, then hit the weight room for some core stuff, including side and back extensions, incline leg lifts, I got friendly with the iron chair, and ended with a couple tried-and-true ab circuits from Buns, Guns, and Guts, the class I taught at UMass. I’ll share them here when I post another at-home circuit workout.
After a day of rest, I decided that Sunday would be my long run. Long = 6ish. I left another excellent intern-dominated party at a reasonable hour after indulging in just one Sea Dog blueberry beer (an homage to home), and went to bed to be ready. I got up at 6:30 and was out the door an hour later. After spilling water from my awesome new cup that will get its own post directly into my crotch which distracted me and caused me to swipe a car with my mirror (which folded right in and therefore caused no damage), returning home to change my shorts, and parking at Audobon, I was off! I ran a figure 8 around the park and fly with an extra loop of the park. I decided to create
lazy good running habits from the beginning of my recovery, and took it really easy. I ran on dirt as much as possible, and didn’t push my speeds. Not that I could go too fast with the maple syrup-thick air (ok, I exaggerate – it was actually only 80% humidity today). My stats at the end of the run were as follows: 5.88 mi, 47:50, 8:07 pace. Most notable part of my run: a little boy, still in his PJs, playing on some piece of construction equipment and super excited about it. Adorable.
These numbers are just estimates, because mapmyrun.com, which I have used for the past year and a half, doesn’t have the dirt path at Audobon so I had to free-hand it based on the satellite view. In fact, I’ve been having a really rough time figuring out mileage because here where there are a million and one streets, it’s hard to know exactly where you went all the time. Street signs are missing, there are no distinguishing factors between one street and the next, and there is often construction or something going on to discourage you from sticking to your planned route. This has all made it clear to me that I need a GPS watch!