Friday's 3-miler did turn out to be on a treadmill, though mostly because it was pouring outside and dark by the time I got time to exercise. I first warmed up with foam rolling, half an hour on the stationary bike, and some stretching, then headed up to the cardio mezzanine for the big treadmills. I chose the "real runners'" treamills this time. :) I like these a lot better. You can set incline to tenths of a degree, instead of whole degrees, and the controls are easier to figure out in general. I had good company, too; runners all.
You can see how nice and even the treadmill makes a run. Aside from some minor monkeying with the mph setting in order to set up a pace I could handle for 30 minutes, the run was extremely even. With the forced pacing, all I really have to do is keep up. Coughing spells were difficult to handle, but by leaning a bit on the handrail, I didn't have to slow down or stop. I DID stop at the halfway point in order to stretch - my left side was all knotted up and tight.
Overall, a good run, if fairly difficult due to the warmth of the gym and no airflow. It also doesn't help to have no scenery going by, as there's no way to get a sense of accomplishing distance without looking at the distance counter on the treadmill - something which seems to change very slowly and makes every tenth of a mile an achievement in itself.
It is bizarre watching my reflection in the window glass in front of me. I have a pretty good form, even if I do have skinny little legs and my shoulders go up and down too much. Problem is, the other reflections to the left and right of me were running much faster... It is also bizarre finally getting OFF the treadmill. There's a sense of vertigo - my ears have adjusted to the mismatch between non-moving scenery and moving legs - with the result that when I actually walk on real floor and things go past me, the slowest walk looks like a fast run.
Now: SATURDAY'S LONG RUN:
You see that? YOU SEE THAT?? This was a very solidly good run, short of being "great" only by the walk breaks in the first half of the run and lack of temperature control. (Forgive the difficult-to-read graphics - I didn't wear my heart monitor, so without that data - no rainbow background.)
I've been looking around for a running partner and have thus far failed to find one. But B contacted me in response to my NYRR ad and we agreed to meet. I was a few minutes late, but she was very gracious about that. She was surprised to see me with a backpack and intrigued by my method of locking it to a bench. Anything she brings to a run, she carries with her. That impressed me right off the bat. I feel weighed down by winter running clothes as it is, and would find a jacket wrapped around my waist and a fanny pack to be too much. But she's used to it.
When I got myself sorted out, we started off. I planned two repeats of the four-mile loop. Taking the cutoffs at 102nd and 72nd streets caught B off guard. She usually just runs the whole park loop. She seems to like the Harlem hill, but I was glad not to have to do it today. (Next few weeks will be a different story.)
Pacing was the big issue on this run. She's slightly faster than I am and doesn't need the walk breaks I currently do in the first miles. She was a patient partner with a good strategy: while I took a short walking and coughing break, she'd slow her pace, but still keep jogging. When I got going again, my regular 10:15 (or thereabouts pace) got me caught up with her in a minute or two. She offered some good advice after the first two or three of these episodes and without much discussion, took the lead in setting the uphill paces, slowing down there, and then speeding back up for flats and downhills. While it is easy to know this strategy in the head, it's another thing to implement it while running and having B there certainly helped. I do need a lot of recover at the top of a hill and often can't utilize the downhill on the other side as well as I'd like.
BUT the results of this run were, in truth, tremendous. Look at the graph. In the first four miles, you'll see I walked five times (though ONLY five times!) and three of those times had me stopped, bent over, coughing my head off. (That's where the pace spikes downward to zero.) But after that fifth time, which was actually me stopping to put my sweatshirt with my backpack because I was too warm, the next four miles were a great achievement for me.
Look at that! Between markers 4 and 6 there was NO walking. Zero, Zip, Nada. And that two-mile stretch included Cat Hill! I had one bent-over coughing fit shortly after coming out of the 102nd street crossover, and then the rest of the run was pause-free. Having finally gotten my legs warmed up (though my upper half was freezing - I need a heavier shirt or should have kept my gloves on), I was able to keep moving through most coughing fits. It wasn't easy, and I'm sure B could hear my strange breathing, gasps, grunts, etc as I worked to keep up and keep going.
She'd asked me after mile 3 how I was feeling and at that time I'd answered truthfully I was tired - at that point the run was pretty miserable for me. But when she asked again on the 72nd street crossover in our eighth mile, I answered with a thumbs up and joked we could go another loop.
I didn't, of course - my mileage was done for the day and I ended it feeling strong and happy. B, however, has been training for the Bronx half, which is next weekend, and wanted to get a few more miles in, so I thanked her and wished her luck and we parted ways. I wonder if she did another four mile loop?
Anyway, I found B to be a quiet, patient, understanding runner. We talked only a little; mostly comparing notes about what races we've run and our goals for November. Hopefully, we can run together again. A few more runs like that and I should be able to reduce my walk breaks to zero.
One last thing to note: on my last few runs, I'm not ending up with happy, open lungs. Usually, after exercise, my lungs are in a refractory period where I'm free of asthma, but in the last three runs, my lungs have been just as closed as before the run. Hm.