CHANGE IS A GOOD THING
Yes, even if that change entails taking 1 week+ off from blogging, time off from lifting, and 8 hour days spent at the courthouse.
Oh, and how could I forget the sudden influx of new readers on this blog even though there hasn't been a new post since July 20th! Hello and Welcome! This past week of running has been anything but normal. This time last week, I was listening to recorded message informing me that I had been selected for jury duty and would have to report to the courthouse at at 8:30 a.m. Which meant zero time for lifting+ incline walking at the gym and a sharp increase in my anxiety because I had no clue what was in story for me when it came to jury duty.
This news also lead to a sudden change in my running route. Due to the 40 minute drive to the courthouse, plus time to cool down from my run and shower; it didn't make sense to start/finish my run at the gym. So, the next logical move was to go back to my old routine of starting/finishing my run at my house. I hadn't done this in a very, very long time. I couldn't even tell you the last run I had where this happened. However, I was excited for the opportunity to change up my route, and hopeful that this would be the change I needed to put up some fast times.
I had no idea just how well my body would react to this new routine.
That first run on my new route was for sure the funnest, least painful 6 mile run I have had in a while. My times were honestly really, REALLY good considering just a short time ago I was at the chiropractor with both a hip and pelvis that were really limiting my running and just how much joy I was getting out of it. I had one mile that was slow during that first run, all the rest were ran at 9:45 pace or better. Tuesday's run was a little more rough, due to all the sitting I did on Monday and the fact that I was too exhausted when I finally made it home from the courthouse to actually stretch.
However, things got back on track with Wednesday and Thursday's 5.65 mile runs. That was the blessing in disguise with all this change. I really had to limit myself when it came to how far I ran, because the last thing I needed was to end up getting stuck waiting for a train and not make it home with enough time to get ready for the day. Since I knew that I was only going to be able to run those days and basically get in zero exercise the rest of the day...I knew I had to make the most of the time I had available. So, I wanted to just run as fast as I could for those 5+ miles.
I'll admit, the time off from blogging and really analyzing how my half marathon training has been going was not fun at all.
There were so many times, especially with Monday's break through run and then Thursday's 400 m PR that I set at the end of my run, that I needed to just take some time to write and reflect. Because, for once, things were going really well and I wasn't dealing with a whole lot of intense pain. Sure, the side stitches have made a reappearance on several runs this week, but I will take those any day over the intense pelvis/hip pain combo I have dealt with in the past. I can at least run through the side stitches and still manage to crack a smile or wave at someone I know as they drive past.
Yesterday's 8 miler did not go quite as planned.
I was so pumped by how cool it was out and by how fresh my legs felt that I sort of went overboard during those first few miles. My first mile was ran at 9:20 pace, and well I didn't keep that pace for long, the miles that followed were still pretty dang fast (9:35 pace for miles 2-4). So, you can imagine that by the time I hit my gel stop at mile 4 just how exhausted and winded I was feeling. I obviously didn't know just how fast I had gone out at the start, but I knew it would be a battle to get to the 8 mile mark, despite the ideal weather conditions. So, I tried to take as long of a gel break as I could. Which, was probably only 2ish minutes.
Before I knew it, I had already competed my second lap down 11th street and was feeling sort of like, "I'm doing ok but I'm not totally sure 8 miles is going to happen. But, I'm going to do my best to get as close as I physically/mentally can to that number." Of course, I had read my horoscope prior to this run and the fact that yesterday was slated to be a 5/10 was weighing heavily on my mind. So, I wasn't all that shocked when I saw someone a few blocks up let their dogs out and then subsequently just walk away. I did what any runner who has been chased by a dog on more than one ocassion would do, I got way over on the other side of the road and hoped for the best.
To say I was pissed off in that moment would be an understatement.
As I saw this dog barreling and barking at me I went from being WAY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD TO UP ON THE GRASSY BANK AND TRYING NOT TO SPRAIN AN ANKLE OR GET BIT. Obviously, I had to stop running at this point because I really did feel like getting bit was going to be a guaranteed thing if I didn't. Eventually, the dog ran back to his own yard, no owner in site, and I got on with my run. From that moment on, I knew I could no longer avoid the reality of just how quickly running outside can turn dangerous. I had to face the reality that I wasn't doing myself any favor by running alone with zero protection against animals or humans aside from my "big arms."
I finished my 8 miles at in 1 hour 18 minutes and 24 seconds. And, while I avoided getting bit or jumped on or chased for all that far, I knew that in light of recent events in the state of Iowa...running unarmed alone was no longer an option. I will be running with pepper spray from now on. I will try to be more aware of my surroundings, especially in areas that I know don't get a whole lot of traffic at 5:30-6 a.m. I noticed that on yesterday's run, without even making a conscious effort, I was looking over my shoulder every so often to make sure no one was following me. Which, isn't something I want to worry about at all, but is the reality of the world we live in today. This is not a change that anyone in the running community is happy about, least of all someone like me who has enjoyed the freedom that comes with getting lost in a long run.
One last thing to note, in regards to running outside in these dangerous and uncertain times.
The minute you say to yourself I can't run outside or in a sports bra because of what might happen...you're letting those sick/disturbed/pathetic excuses for human beings that abduct people while they are out running win. You're letting them take away your freedom, your joy, and your passion for running. That's not right or okay. If you feel safer, better running on a treadmill, by all means, do what works for you or makes you feel more in control. However, this runner is not going to quit pounding the pavement, ever. I live to run outside, and I will NOT let fear get in the way of running.