December 21, 2007

I am a runner again

First things first: kindly note the new Nike+ widget in the upper right of this page. This widget contains graphs of my last five runs, automatically. It is, however, no substitute for screenshots of the Nike+ website graphs.

My Monday run, shown above, was a tad truncated, due to weather. It was sunny and all, but cold and with strong winds. I headed up hill toward Prospect Park, meaning to get in a fulll 3.4 miles, but the winds were just too much. I was tiring quickly and walking more than I'd like. Despite feeling much better than a few weeks ago, I'm still low on the cardiovascular fitness scale; the winds made it that much harder. Factor in a return of mild shin splints and it didn't take me long to shorten this run. Once I'd made it to Prospect Pkwy & 8th ave, I decided to run back down hill to the bank and end my run there. You can see my per-mile pace was slow - that means walking - no matter how smooth the graph looks. The big dip is where I stopped to deposit a check.

Wednesday's run was much improved. More calf stretching and some Tylenol 8-hr and the shin splints were down to a dull pain. Again, the graph belies the reality: this run was much smoother, with the first 3/4 mile run continuously and the walk breaks kept very short. This was an out-and-back along 2nd ave, one of my favorite routes for just getting steady miles in. The weather was cloudier, but no wind, and that really helped. This run tired me out tremendously; I had to walk up the last half of the short hill between 3rd and 4th aves near 40th street. Who'd have thought Sunset Park actually had some real elevation?

I wonder how the Nike+ gadget keeps track of pace - what the sampling times are and what, exactly, the graph is showing. It's not an average pace, but it doesn't seem to be accurate in terms of actual pace at actual distance - it's been smoothed and exaggerated somehow. But there's no denying the actual time spent running, and for now, the distance reading is close enough. I'll have to calibrate it again soon though. Perhaps a workout around the Central Park Reservoir, where there are markers.

Today's run went VERY well. I didn't go uphill, though, which means I'll have to tomorrow, when I put in the "long run" for the weekend. (It will be raining Sunday, so I have to get this done tomorrow). Instead, I did the 2nd Avenue out-and-back again; well, ok, it's more of a loop, since I run from 4th to 2nd, then across on second for about a mile and a half, then back up to 4th and then home. I intentionally extended today's run past the 5K mark. Though most of me wanted to turn around right at the halfway point, as noted by the iPod in my ear, I didn't - I tacked on an extra quarter mile. I wanted to see if I could run to the point of being fully warmed up. It has always taken three miles before the magic kicks in for me. And sure enough, passing the actual three mile mark today (actually, about 2.75 mile mark), my legs got into it and I was moving WELL. There's a difference between moving and moving well. My legs didn't feel like stumps that *I* was moving; they felt like a smooth machine I was merely controlling. My lungs were working well. I was in no pain, and some energy had returned. In short, I was finally RUNNING AGAIN, as opposed to jogging. To confirm this, my per-mile pace tended to be quicker than 10 minutes per mile the whole run. The overall pace was just over that at 10:13 - which allows for the two short walk breaks and the three moments of waiting for traffic. God it feels good to get back to the sub-10 area, even if only for a couple of miles.

After uploading the run from my iPod, this little banner popped up on the Nike+ website as I was looking at my graphs. Wow. 1 more kilometer to hit 250! (The website resets its units based on your last run's units - I've been setting my run distance to 5K.) Wait, let me look closer. I've run 249.94. What? I need a lousy .06 kilometers to finish my 250?? That's 196.8 feet! A mere 2,362 inches! For crying out loud, I did three times that on my cooldown walk to my house! This is like being in the middle of saying "I do" and the preacher interrupts to say, "I'm sorry; it's five-o'clock; can we pick this up tomorrow?" Aargh!

Tomorrow: 4 miles minimum - goal is the water fountain at Prospect Park and 9th street.

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