Friday, May 28, 2010

On Running Partners

On Wednesday (also my 22nd birthday!) I got up early at 8:30 so I would be ready to go with Tess at 9. Having someone to go with definitely made it easier to get out of bed--I'm just as likely to decide to sleep another hour as I am to put on shoes and get out the door at this point, so thank you Tess!

The run itself was still hot. My guess is about 75, and temps later that day definitely got above 90. Talking made it difficult to keep up speed, but the run felt like it went by really fast: 33 minutes felt like about 15. I could tell Tess likes to go faster than I usually go, so I appreciated her keeping to my pace. That didn't stop her from speeding along to pass people though, with me catching up eventually. She's also much bouncier, even after just coming off of a foot injury! I'm a little jealous of her natural speed, but I think it'll come for me with some patience and diligence.

I'm still a little wary of doing too many runs with a partner. For most of my running life, it's been a very solitary activity for me. I started going out to escape the house for little bits at a time, and just have some way to think. I remember very specifically my first non-gym-class run on my own, in high school. Through middle school my first step mother, Debbie, was a big runner, so she and my dad got me some pairs of shorts and sneakers and I'd go out with her for about 10 minutes at a time.

Then, one day in 9th grade my mom was picking me up from school. My sister, then 12, was in the front seat and very unhappy about something or other, so she started kicking things and managed to crack the windshield. That only made my mom yell even more, all the way home. As soon as I got out of the car, I ran up to my room, changed, said, "I'm going for a run!" then left them to their yelling match. That happened a lot in high school, and with my sister and mother filling the house with their fights, it was nice to get out alone and have some quiet save for my own breathing.

In 10th grade I made friends with Christelle, in my gym class, a french girl who looked like a model except for her height. When we discovered we both liked to run, and that we only lived a few blocks apart, we would meet every Monday or Tuesday and head out together. This went on for a few months until one day in December, when I wasn't feeling well and didn't want to go out, but she convinced me to anyway. I wore sweatpants, which I never did (I would wear shorts until it got below 20F back in high school) and a sweatshirt. I also cut the run short (which I also never did) and went straight home instead of detouring up the long, steep hill on McKinley like always.

After I got home, I got a fever and ended up missing nearly a week of school. After I got better Christelle wanted to run with me again. I did a couple times, but it was definitely no longer a regular thing and running again became a mostly solo activity. I've run with other people since then, like my dad and Debbie over thanksgiving weekends (though I much preferred circular routes to the out-and-back Debbie liked to do). Also in 10th grade, I decided to try the spring track team as well, but it was absolutely not for me--something I may get into in a later post.

Anyway, I had more mixed experiences with running partners after that. In 12th grade I ran with my high school boyfriend a few times, until one run in particular when we went on one of his routes, ended up getting lost, and went 7 miles by accident. My knees hurt after that one, since I had never gone more than 5 before and didn't do it on a regular basis. After that I was a little wary of other people's routines again, and it was almost summer anyway, which meant tennis for me.

So for now, running with friends will definitely be an option--it's fun, makes it go by faster, and we get to revel in our accomplishment together. But on days when I'm going to push distance more than usual, like I plan to today, I'm going to go it alone. That way I can really pay attention, take walking breaks when I need to, and go just as fast (slow) as I want.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two hot sub-31's

Ugh, this heat! Today is definitely the hottest day yet. Today I also didn't go out. I'm trying to get up earlier--something that's become really difficult since leaving high school--so I can avoid the heat and get the run done before I have time to make excuses.

I've been successful on half of that. Running seems to be becoming more habit than not, and I'm ever so slowly getting quicker. Even though it may not feel quick enough to me. Patience, consistency, blah blah blah. I still haven't run two days in a row, because I'm a little wary of getting injured. I notice early in all of my runs that the bottoms of my feet seem to be getting sore, which would be a new injury if it developed into anything more. Hopefully I can keep that from happening.

The other half of the equation is much more of a problem: damn heat! On Saturday I headed out at 11 (yes, I know, much too late) and ran straight through some festival thing on the esplanade. I could see, or projected, a little exasperation on all the other runners' faces as we darted and dodged around people strolling leisurely with their ice cream and other festival food. But I escaped and made it home for my first 30:57, my fastest yet since I started running again.

Yesterday, two days later, I went out at 10 am--nice try, self, but still too hot. Things were a lot less crowded, and I finished with a sprint to try to make it in under 31 minutes again. Same time, 30:57. My heart rate reached 200 by the end.

I want to get faster, but it's a tough balance between staying fresh and non-injured, and the seconds that keep on coming. I will walk a little when my HR gets beyond 180, so that makes it slower. One nice holdover from my tennis days is that I recover really quickly, so the HR goes way down as soon as I stop running. Still, it would be nice to not have to walk. I'll get there, I know, it'll just take some persistence. And maybe some cooler weather: next attempt will probably be a 9am.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

All Greens and Grays

Yesterday was one of my favorite runs so far. I only intended to go on a 3-mile loop, but I felt so good I extended it to another bridge and did 4.5 again. The 55-degree air plus drizzly mist made the water look picturesque--the sky and river were both gray, with misty bridges off in the distance, and a few lonely sailboats bobbing up and down on the water. On land everything was brown with vivid shades of green that popped. I felt like I was running through a Hayao Miyazaki film, at the spots on my route where I could ignore the presence of cars. And, as cool as my new sunglasses are, it was nice to go without.

I felt faster too. Not having wind in my face meant I did this run 6 minutes faster than last time, even though I got a stitch as I was coming back to the Cambridge side. And I've found that other runners are friendlier when the weather is "bad"--something about rain brings out more camaraderie, and I exchanged a smile or a wave with more than half of the runners passing in the the other direction.

Unfortunately for my sleeping-in habit, the next few days will be very hot (75-80) around the afternoon/evening. Maybe I should start setting my alarm with more enthusiasm.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Real Freedom

Classes are over, the 6.115 project worked just enough and just long enough to get checked off, the project got written up, and the paper got done after a very long night. I saw the sun rise, went through a surreal sleep-deprived last day of undergrad classes ever, then slept forever.

I should have tons more time for running, and I do, if only the weather (and my new agenda) would cooperate a little better. After a joint birthday party Saturday night, I managed to run on Sunday, when the weather got pretty hot (11 am is not the best time of day to sweat), but I think if I practice my body can get used to some reasonable heat for summer. That was an awesome day because later I went to the Friendly Toast with my hall, which is one of the best brunch places nearby. We did have to wait a while, but it was worth it. Plus, everything tastes better after a run.

Yesterday was my one and only final, with cheat sheets and all. Controls. I wasn't too worried beforehand, and my grades are solid so far. I did find myself being a bit hand-wavey, but not enough to make me actually worry--I feel safe assuming most everyone else found it just as tricky if not more.

On the agenda from now until commencement, June 4: sell some of my stuff, pack up the rest, get loose ends tied up, celebrate my actual birthday, and spend time with all my friends who are going to disappear soon. And run! Today is a lovely Boston 50 degrees and rainy, but I'll see what I can do. The weekend promises heat...

Sunday, May 9, 2010


That's the only sound I heard for a good half-hour of my run today. (Also the sound my deadlines are making as they approach terminal velocity...Thursday, Thursday, eek...)

Anyway, today I decided to go long, and I'm really happy that I did. It's easier to do if I start out the run knowing I will--my mental preparedness doesn't really reach far enough to extend my runs on a whim at this point. Maybe in the future, after I've built up much more fitness. But I guess all that coughing gave my cardiovascular system a workout, because I was able to go at what felt like a decent pace much more comfortably. Until the wind hit me. I could barely hear my music at all, just tons of cold air coming off the Charles. At one point, as I was staggering sideways, I just yelled "oh my god!" which got me a smile from a passing biker. The paths felt a lot more empty than usual, but those who were out there all knew what I was facing.

I also made a point of keeping my heart rate below 180. In high school we'd run for 20 minutes every other or every third PE class, wore heart monitors, and had to keep our rates between 150 and 180. So today I let myself walk if I was getting too high, which was quite a bit when I was against the wind, to make sure I wouldn't tire myself out on my first longer run. Because of all the wind resistance and walking, the whole thing ended up taking me about 55 minutes. Much better than doing schoolwork for that extra half hour. And I got to try out my new sunglasses that I got especially for sports! All in all, a really good day (aside from the looming pile of work) and I'm excited to go out again...might have to wait until Thursday, though, when the whole mess is done.


...Well, almost. I've made it through a night or two without a coughing fit and during the day it's barely there, so I'm ready to start running again! Good news is, I've been able to get sleep, and my project now works (at least what I've done so far). And I only have one final (controls) which will be totally straightforward and come with cheat sheets, and be at the reasonable hour of 1:30 pm on a Tuesday instead of 9. The bad news is that HOLY MOTHER OF GOD I have until Thursday to get the whole micro-controller project running, write it all up properly, AND do an 8-10 page paper for my HASS (humanities class). (Other good news: I got an A+ on my last paper, so I'm not too worried; it's just that I need that time for other things that are more relevant...)

So it looks like I'm not getting much quality rest this week either. At least I won't be coughing up a lung while I'm mourning the lost sleep, definitely an improvement. And looking forward to sweating over a run, instead of my schoolwork!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Feeling Terrible

Ugh, getting more sleep would be easier if I could actually sleep through the night. For the past four nights I've lost anywhere from a half hour to 90 minutes of sleep because I'm having an extended coughing fit. So 6 hours of sleep becomes 5, 7 and a half becomes 6, etc. After a while it's starting to take a toll. I even skipped sailing class today, since having a coughing fit on the water surrounded by 15 other boats doesn't sound fun. I have yet to determine if this is allergies or a virus, but the latter would be preferable. I'm doubtful, though, because other than my throat and my lack of sleep, I'm fine.

At least things seem to be getting better with lab. I can almost make my bugs go away and come back at will by tapping the board, so I'm bringing it to the prof today to make sure nothing is loose. Running, unfortunately, will have to wait until I can actually breathe.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


So this week's been rougher than the last one because in addition to my 6.115 project (which is going horribly) I had to prepare two presentations. On Tuesday I also woke up with a sore throat, which has since turned into a cough. Since I'm singing in a choir concert tomorrow, I've decided to not run until afterwards to save my throat from the huffing and puffing. I still got outside today to enjoy the return of spring (after days of crazy wind and rain) by going sailing with my friend Rachel, on the sailing team. That was definitely the perfect thing to do today, and I feel very relaxed, despite the deadlines creeping toward me far too quickly.

In other news, I finally made it out on Tuesday to do my timed mile. I was aiming for sub-9, but managed to pull off a 9:04, which isn't bad. It's definitely somewhere to start from. I decided to time splits for each lap, which was pretty funny:
Lap 1 2:12
Lap 2 2:16
Lap 3 2:23
Lap 4 2:13

I was huffing and puffing pretty hard during the last one, when I realized I needed to step it up to get under 9 minutes. All I need to do is reach a point where I can sustain my first lap's pace for all four of them. Then go for sub-8.

Oh, and get more sleep.