Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gorgeous Day (Also, I'm Slow)

Today was a perfect day to run, and I had plenty of company. I love running along the Charles on a day like this because on one side I have water and sailboats, and on the other rolling grassy mounds and trees in bloom. Two scenes for the price of one.

Of course, having so many other people around means I'm getting passed. A lot. Seriously, the only other runners I pass are going in the opposite direction. So my straight-ahead view is other people's backs, getting smaller and smaller.

I refuse to get frustrated--all the more reason to run some more, so I can get better. Today I wore my heart-rate monitor, so I actually timed myself too. 3 miles in 34:26--eek, that's a lot worse than other times I've come back from a hiatus. I did try some other paths that led me in wrong directions today, so I blame that too.

Still, I am trying. Pretty damn hard. My watch tells me that my average heart rate was 185, and I know I saw a 197 there at one point. If you subscribe to the whole (max = 220-age) thing, I got really close to my max, though I didn't really feel that way. I'd be curious to see what my max really is, but I'm tired enough today. I can tell I'm going to feel this tomorrow too.

Oops, and it's time to go to lab--the powers that be have kindly opened it up on this beautiful Saturday, and I can't help feeling guilty when it's open and I'm not there. Let's hope things work today.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On Timing

The legs are pretty sore from two days ago, but definitely in a good way. Anyway...

In high school, I used to think that if I didn't have time to run at least three miles, it wasn't even worth bothering. That made more sense then (when classes ended before 3) than it does now, when 4 weekdays out of 5 I only have an hour-long break (or less) between classes. Plus piles of homework that take much longer than 4 years ago. Also, I don't feel comfortable going out into Boston/Cambridge when it's dark, so it's tough to figure out when to go. Luckily it's spring now, so daylight is more plentiful.

Unfortunately, spring also brings some tricky weather of its own. Today there was a flash thunderstorm right before I was planning to go out, but it was sunny again by the time I got home from work. The problem with having only an hour to go out, though, is that a 3-mile run with a shower at the end cuts it very close and I have to rush. So, I decided that I would jog to the track, time running a mile as fast as I reasonably could (so I can see where I'm starting from and how much I improve later), then jog back. Unfortunately, the track is only open to the track team from 5-7. Ugh. So I ran back home again, not wanting to just jog around without knowing how far I was going.

So the benchmarking will probably have to wait until the weekend. A lot of my free time between classes has to be spent in lab nowadays, since I have a beast of a final project to finish before May 13. Thanks to Gmaps Pedometer, though, I discovered that I actually did run a mile today. We'll see how it goes when it's timed and official.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

First Step

Yesterday, I watched the Boston marathon for the first time. I had seen a marathon before, when my first step mom ran New York when I was in high school. I've never been fast, and sometimes running feels like the worst chore in the world, but I ran consistently starting at about 9th grade--until I got to MIT. Suddenly schoolwork came in piles that took hours and hours rather than assignments I could do in my sleep. And the excuses kept coming. I was on the varsity tennis team freshman year, which had tougher practices and much farther travel for weekend matches, so there was no time for extra runs on top of that (especially when it got dark so early). I got shin splints during spring season, after a winter off, which took months to recover from because I was inconsistent with my exercises. Then my running shoes were too old and my knees hurt, but I didn't have the time/money/inclination to get new ones. And the schoolwork kept coming, not to mention the northeastern winters that, while nothing new, made sweating outside for even a half-hour extremely unappealing.

My intentions were good, though, and during summers and other breaks I would be almost diligent again like in high school. But something would always come up--the start of a new term, or, like this past February, eye surgery that could not wait and required me to rest for about a month. Not that I would have kept up my running anyway. Classwork during the week, socializing during my free time, catching up on sleep, short daylight hours and freezing temperatures through the end of March don't exactly leave me with a burning desire to lace up my shoes.

Enter the Boston marathon, what I hope will be the kick I need to keep this up for good. It was exhilarating seeing the elites zoom by, as well as the "regular" people who came in packs much later (and from some of whom I got sweaty high-fives!). My friends and I were on Commonwealth, at about mile 25. I could see what toll the miles had taken on the runners. Some smiled and pumped their fists and generally riled up the crowd; some pressed ahead with a calm, determined look on their faces; some grimaced in pain, barely lifting their feet. But they had all come so far. Even making it to Boston means that they've already run a marathon already. And they were 95% of the way through this one, the big one, with all of the biggest hills behind them.

I want to know what that's like. For a while now, I've had vague intentions of running a marathon, but never any concrete plans for doing one. Today, though, I have taken my first step: a 3-mile run. Three miles is my baseline for what I know I can do after I've been on hiatus for a while. Of course, I'm sure this one took me over 30 minutes, and it was tough. But weather is on my side, and maybe even classwork: it is my senior spring, after all. Even if it's not, I'm ready to stop the excuses. Luckily, the more I run the easier it gets. Right now, I need to focus on getting my body used to running again so I can avoid something like my shin splints. Which means some serious consistency. I hope that by the end of this year I will have run a half-marathon. Perhaps a marathon will come in another year. And maybe one day I'll return to Boston, this time on the other side of the barriers.