February 24, 2008

I am recovering from...the flu?

After the food poisoning earlier this week, I didn't recover well. It felt like I had the flu all week and I only just got over it yesterday. Because of that, Friday's workout wasn't stellar. I just couldn't get motivated.

For decades, they taught children in school that there were only four tastes. Bitter, salty, sweet, and sour. And those four tastes in combination made up all the flavors of the world. But I often thought something was missing. And now western scientists have embraced what the Japanese and French have known for a long time: that there is a fifth taste: umame, the name taken from the Japanese, of course. In short, it is "relish".

Well, Friday's workout lacked umame. I started out on the exercise bike and put in twenty minutes on that OK, and then did some foam rolling and stretching, but then my run on the treadmill - which was supposed to be 3 miles - was just kind of crappy. It wasn't a lack of energy, or a lack of time, it was just a lack of umame. I was overheated, it's true. I'd have gotten the run done had it been outdoors, but the sidewalks were in no condition for running. It was just too hot in the gym. And, truthfully, it seemed like everybody was there. All the treadmills were in use.

You'll see on the chart how I got to a mile quite steadily, but then had to take off the heart rate monitor. I was coughing continually and thought that might help. It didn't and I ended up just cutting the run short. Coughing so much with people so close to me wasn't fair to them and it was making me self-conscious, which is a rarity for me.

Now, TODAY's run - a 9-miler - really went quite well. Again, the chart tells the story. Some walking, but only at regular, timed intervals (after the first couple of walk breaks, which were necessitated by coughing fits). These walk breaks today were basically at every set of stairs on the bayside promenade and a little at my turnaround point. I see several breaks in pace due to traffic (and one to wait for a Japanese couple to get their picture taken in front of the Verazzano), but in general, this was a very steady run. Look at the pacing while I was jogging - just dead even most of the way. Everything was nice and measured.

There are two very long walk breaks, but those were forced by the one stretch of my route that was covered by an almost-unnavigable mixture of mud, ice, snow, and water. I had to be very careful here and running through it was not possible. It provided a good rest, though, and I think that's what led to the steadyness of the 3rd through 7th miles and the perfect, unbroken last two miles.

Look at that again: perfect unbroken two miles to wrap up this run. Nothing particularly fast, but certainly one of my best quality long runs in a long time. Gives me hope for a decent race in St. Louis.

The weird thing is, I think those two miles are so good because it felt like I finally got warmed up. It only took seven miles, but until then, I just didn't feel like I was actually ready to run. I hope it doesn't continue to take that long. Another thing that might have affected it is that my big toe felt like it had made a hole in my sock and pushed through - you know the feeling. I wasn't going to stop and find out. It wasn't uncomfortable, but it was enough of a strange sensation to distract me from the other aspects of running which are uncomfortable, particularly my lungs. Focusing on that little odd sensation really helped. This, I think, is how running superstitions are born.

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