Monday, November 8, 2010

Mountain Standard Time

On Sunday morning, 6:30 a.m. became 5:30 a.m. This made it easier for me to wake up for my 10-miler....and harder to sneak out.

Now that cooler weather is here and I'm training for a 5K instead of something longer, I don't always have to get up this early for my long runs. But since I ran Sunday instead of Saturday this weekend, and I take my kids to church on Sunday, I had to get it done before that. So it was briefly back to the crack-of-dawn alarm. The crack of dawn, though, wasn't as early as it had been the prior weekend. And that meant a possible encounter in the dark house...with one of my kids.

My son, Will, is one of those children who hate to miss anything. If Dan and I are talking about something he doesn't understand, he'll ask "what?" and "why?" questions until he's satisfied (or until we temporarily fool him into thinking he's satisfied). In the morning when he wakes up, he flings his bedroom door open like Henry the 8th shoving aside the heavy wooden portals of the palace, as if to announce, "Here I am! What have you been doing without me?" (Usually nothing, as we are usually in bed.)

So when I get up early to run, I creep around like a cat burglar in my own house, fearful of waking him (and therefore my husband, and probably our daughter, Ruthie, too--Ruthie's like her mother; she likes her sleep). And since the clock switch meant my running hour was closer to Will's natural wake-up time of the past months, it meant more of a chance that his active, rousing little mind would put two and two together should he hear any noises in the hall.

The mud room, through which door I exit, is literally right across a narrow creaky hall from Will's room. So I get dressed in our bathroom, eat my banana and drink my water in there too, and only when I'm ready for the final step (shoes, iPod, exit) do I slide down the hall in socked feet with the lights out, avoiding the creaky places, easing the mudroom door knob down, easing the door open, easing the knob back up--and only then allowing myself to turn on the light.

The light makes me nervous even with the door closed. I heard somewhere that the human eye can sense a mere one photon of light. Dan, who is a physicist, tells me this isn't true. But there's a lot more than one photon coming under the mudroom door crack, and if any eyeball can sense them and their meaning, it's Will's. And if Will catches me in the act of departing, as he's done twice now, it means delays and more work for his sleepy dad (who is *not* a morning person like the rest of us!).

So once I'm in there, I wriggle into my shoes and anything else I haven't put on in the bathroom (gloves? hat?), taking care not to stand in front of the dryer--the floor is *very* creaky in that spot. Then I carefully, slowly, nervously open the door to the garage and close it quickly. Only then am I free to really contemplate the run ahead.

Happily, Sunday morning brought no appearance from Will (though Dan told me he emerged about ten minutes after I left--whew!), and the run after the sneaking was gorgeous. The sun was pinking the clouds as I started, and as I scaled Baseline Hill, it turned the still-colorful autumn leaves a mixture of gold and burgundy. A chilly breeze blew. All of my senses were tingling. I felt grateful for this, as it will probably be my last early morning run for a while.

My plan for the next year has solidified now to the point that I can share it. My design right now is to train for all of my races using the FIRST program, designed by exercise scientists at Furman University and billed as especially good for people who have a lot of other things going on in their lives but want to run faster. My race plan goes like this (getting less and less specific as I go out in time):

December 4--my next target race, the Colder Bolder 5K; I am deviating from the FIRST program only in that I'm keeping my weekend run at 10 miles or longer instead of reducing to seven or eight mile weekends, so as not lose my half-marathon endurance. Next weekend I will do a half-marathon trail race in Highlands Ranch, and I plan to do it slowly, taking walk breaks a la Galloway. I also plan to do a Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving (if I can get a sitter, as Dan will be picking his mom and stepdad up at the airport), but I won't run that fast either. I'll try to save my speed (such as it is!) for Dec. 4.

March 27--the Boulder Spring Half-Marathon. My goal? To beat two hours, hopefully blast through it. Looking at the FIRST speed workouts and tempo runs is scary, but at least it won't be hot training for it. I *hate* hot weather.

Interlude: run the Bolder Boulder 10K with my dad, who hasn't run it before. In fact, I don't think he's done an organized road race. I think he'll be hooked once he's done it, and running with him again will be SO FUN. I won't worry about my time in the least.

June--an as-yet un-chosen marathon, with sub-4 hours as my goal. Hopefully wherever it is, it won't be hot.

October 1--my first (probably not last) attempt to qualify for Boston, hopefully at the St. George Marathon, if I can get in (yes, there's a lottery for that one!). It's got lots of downhill portions, and it's not horribly far from here.

So there it is: my agenda for the next year! Just reading it makes me feel good. Like all nerds, I enjoy homework.


  1. Some great goals you have to get you there to your BQ attempt! The 5K training is very good, as it will get you comfortable at faster speeds. My best marathon was after a hard 5K season.

    Funny on the exit through the mudroom, I have the same exit and am equally sensitive to light. I'm buying the "one photon" theory. --Alex

  2. Thanks, Alex! I'm already getting butterflies in my stomach when I think about my 5K. Any race strategy advice? The way the race is set up, you're supposed to be racing only people who are your pace or slower (because all finished within 2 minutes of each other in the Bolder Boulder last May). Theoretically, that means I could win. But I've done this race three times and never even been close to the front. Either some of these runners are ringers, who ran the BB much more slowly than they could, or I'm doing something wrong....

    As for the one photon thing, I swear it's true....