Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Queen of the World and the Green Slime Run

Sorry about being MIA this past week, but the past seven days have been crazy.  My little guy turned four years old, and it seems that most of the week has been consumed with that noble event.  Leading up to his birthday, it was all about getting ready for it.  Following his birthday, it's been about the post-birthday letdown, putting together and playing with the new toys, and cleaning up the mess.  As an adult, I still embrace each birthday with something akin to joy.  As my dad always says when I complain about getting older, it's better than the alternative.  But, there is nothing like the pure happiness that comes from a young kid on their birthday.  It's almost as if they live the entire year just for this day.  So, we try to make the most of it.

For the past couple of years I have wanted one of my children to have a party outside of the house. It's not so much about impressing other people with an extravagant birthday celebration as it is about not wanting to do all the work of having a party at home (clean up beforehand for the guests, cook and entertain, clean up afterwards.)  Each time, though, I have been thwarted, because my kids have always wanted to celebrate at home.  Finally, this year, though, the little guy decided a birthday at a local bouncy place would be okay.  And it was!  We had eight kids as guests and they had a blast bouncing around and playing arcade games.  The place took care of providing pizza and drinks and cleaning up the mess afterward.  The little guy had a great time, and that is the important thing.  Would I do it again?  Sure!  Would I do it every time?  No.  Who could afford to?  

Finding time for a run leads to the Queen of the World

Anyway, even with the entire week centering around the little guy's birthday, I did manage to get some runs in.  On Wednesday, my hubby took the day off and that was nice.  It gave him a chance to follow along on our typical routine, which on Wednesdays of late includes my group run.  So, after dropping the little guy off with his popsicle birthday treat for his preschool class, Andy and I headed over to the coffee shop where the run starts.  Meeting the group was a lot of fun; they are all people that Andy knows, of course, but he has never run with this particular group.  Typically, Andy is a lot faster than what the Wednesday group runs, but everyone in the group is fast, so I thought he would just split off with someone and take off.  No go.  Andy ran the whole time at the back of the pack, which was surprising, as he normally is at the front of any run.  When asked why he was hanging back there so much, he said he didn't want to be accused of pushing the pace.  That was nice .... I suppose.  In any case, it's one of the few times you will ever (EVER) find me running ahead of my husband.  

There were six of us for the Wednesday group, and for some reason, instead of doing the typical four miles that I am used to, we ended up going a lot further. There was no real plan in heading out the door.  We just took off, and as we came to intersections and corners, group consensus took us one way or another.  When we reached 3.7 miles at one juncture, we pushed on rather than turn back.  I didn't voice my opinion too much.  I was feeling pretty good and was game with anything.  The run turned out to be a lot of fun.  How can you not enjoy a run that takes you past a house that always puts on a holiday lights-to-music type of show (I am really excited to have found that and will take the kids there at some point), over hills, on trails, past what is called the pteranodon nest tree, and the local high school.  It was all quite varied.  

For me, the pace was comfortably fast for most of the run.  There were a few times where I was breathing hard and everyone slowed down for me.  (At one point, we were apparently running an 8:45 pace, which had me floored.)  And, when we reached the trail, which had a couple of significant hills, I did opt to walk up the last half of those.  Towards the end of the run, I could really feel all of my common trigger points complaining, including my knees and ankles.  Just another reminder that I have to get back to strength and flexibility exercises.

By the end of the run, we had gone 6.6 miles in one hour exactly.  That works out to a 9:05 average pace.  That's nuts, but it made me feel like the Queen of the World.  It felt really good to see that I could manage that - that my runs are (finally!) improving to a point where I am more or less consistent in the 9-minute range.  It's been a long time coming, but hurray!  I was on top of the world.  Unfortunately, that feeling lasted only so long as to my next run.

The Green Slime Run

Friday's run has been dubbed the Green Slime Run, because as I was running all I could think was it felt like I was trying to run through that green slime toy I used to have as a kid.  I have to say I wasn't 100-percent going into it.  The Wednesday run was longer AND faster than I was used to, so it left me feeling pretty sore.  In fact, I wore my calf compression sleeves all day Thursday, because the shin splints - or whatever they are - on my left leg were so bad.  I had to ice a lot Wednesday and Thursday, too.  By Friday, though, my legs felt game enough to give an easy run a go.  As I headed out, I already knew I was in trouble.  I had chosen to do a point-to-point run, as I was going to meet my mom for a shopping excursion.  Unfortunately, that point-to-point had me running into a serious headwind for all but a half mile or so of my run.  And, as it turned out, I wasn't ready to deal with that on top of just not feeling into it.  I ended up walking probably close to half of the "run."  Not one of my more stellar performances.  After Wednesday's awesome run, it was a hard pill to swallow that, no, I am not some super running stud - just me, doing the best I can on any given day.

Start of a Holiday Tradition?

Ah well.  Today I hope to get back into the strength exercises that I seem to be missing so much lately, and tomorrow I will aim for a decent run with the Sunday group.  On Tuesday, the kids will be running our town's one-mile Santa Scamper for the first time ever, and I am really excited to be able to share that with them.  Andy and I have done the Santa Scamper for years.  Now, I realize they are only doing it for the Dilly Bar they hand out afterward.  But, good traditions have to start somewhere, and if a pre-holiday one-mile run tradition starts out based on a Dilly Bar, so be it.  And, that means, too, that this year I don't have to give up my Dilly Bar to one of my children.  I can eat it myself.  Yeah!

Happy Running!

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