peculiar spontaneous runs and new themes

If you haven’t noticed, I changed the theme on this site. I’m much happier with the way this theme displays the Nike+ statistics in the sidebar. It’s fun to get back into the site’s code – it’s been much too long since I’ve done that!

Today was strange. I originally wasn’t planning to run today. My run last Monday was only mediocre at best. I went for a run on Wednesday that was absolutely dreadful. If the measure of a run’s quality is in the “just do it”, well, I did get out there and run. But it felt awful. I struggled every step of the way. Because of that, plus a terrible weather forecast (for running- 92F, humid, harsh sun), I figured I deserved a break today.

The morning and afternoon were remarkably productive. At 4:00, I realized that I had nothing planned for the next hour. I suppose the normal, sane thing would have been to kick back and relax for an hour. I certainly had plenty of excuses: “Monday and Wednesday’s runs were bad. It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s the hottest time of the day. You’ve worked so hard. You deserve a break.”

Instead I gave in to my inner runner, tied my shoes, and headed out for a run. It was hot and humid, and I intended to run slower because of that. It wasn’t easy at first – no surprise, as that first mile is usually pretty tough. So imagine my surprise when I discovered I ran the first mile at 13:12 pace – very fast, for me!

I kept chugging along, and honestly, it felt great. It felt great to be running at around a 13:00 pace, or even a little faster. It felt great to be running past cars and waving at the drivers. It felt great to feel the strength in my legs.

 

At about ~2.25 miles, I was approaching the bottom of what I’ve named “Hampton Hill”. It’s a pretty brutal hill, about a quarter-mile long, and the elevation gets steadily steeper. I’ve conquered this hill before, but it’s still far from easy. As I approached this hill today, as always, I was pumping myself up mentally. “You’re doing great. Don’t push too hard. Take it easy. Steady pace. Even effort. You can do it.”

At the bottom of the hill, I found myself repeating a mantra, a chant. With every step, I said to myself, “Easy (two, three, four). Steady (two, three, four). Even (two, three, four).” To my (oxygen-deprived) mind, the mantra seemed to be the perfect way to hold my (slightly faster than usual but not too fast) pace while pushing over this hill.

So… imagine my surprise when I got to the top of the hill and discovered, I hadn’t just held my pace. I had run the hill at a pace that was at least a full minute faster than the (slightly faster than usual) pace that I’d been holding. Race pace, basically. Yikes!

I actually had to pause at the top of the hill. The unintentionally fast pace had left me with a touch of lightheadedness (something I usually only experience at the end of races!).

About a half mile from home, my abdominal muscles started cramping. Even as I tried to push through it, my abdominals felt simultaneously weak and painful. I discovered pretty quickly that my body wasn’t going to keep running. I dropped to a walk, with some deep-breathing as I pushed through the waves of muscle cramping. I assume it was related to the stress on my muscles from my extra-fast hill run (though with my luck, it was probably just gas or something).

Here’s my splits from today’s workout:

 

Ahhhhh-mazing. I came home simultaneously exhausted and elated. I feel so incredible today.