Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My First Comeback Run!

Today I ran! Outside! For a little more than three miles! Here are eight seconds of video proof:

The video, taken during the first of eight strides I did mid-run, also gives you a good idea how I was feeling. It's not much of a stretch to say that this was better than any finish line I've experienced. A big part of it was that Cynthia joined me, bringing her confidence, her camera and her good humor (also her gadgets; I was watchless, having lost the Timex on a walk last month and having loaned the Garmin to Dan). Her presence made the run feel like a real celebration.

Everything's better with friends! Cynthia and me post-run.
It also helped that the run, while not pain-free, was nothing like the rusty slog I'd forced myself to envision because I'm a hope-for-the-best-prepare-for-worst type of person.

We arrived at a park called Golden Ponds at 8:30 a.m. The day was on its way to 100 degrees, and you could tell already as we started walking to get off the concrete before our first running steps. Egrets drifted on the pond surfaces, and at one point a great blue heron wafted up from the shore and flew to the opposite bank. I didn't care that it was hot. I didn't care that my tailbone spoke to me as we started running.

Graceful egret swimming
The first few steps felt a bit labored, but once I warmed to the rhythm, I realized that my legs, the raising of each knee, felt lighter to me than I remembered from earlier this year. It could be I was just overtrained at that point, but I prefer to think that this says something about my core muscles being stronger, doing more of the work expected of them than they were able to do before.

At the beginning of the run, legs feeling good. I wore my pink "Run" shirt from Kathy and my Brooks PureFlows.
Fifteen minutes into the run, we launched into strides, as Coach Darren had spelled out in my plan for today. We were supposed to do seven, but somehow I lost count and when Cynthia checked the data later she found we had done eight. Running faster felt wonderful. A breeze had picked up, and I pictured myself slicing through it like a knife through silk. On the last stride, I repeated "BQ by 40" in my head. Really, though, for this run I didn't think much about the Boston Marathon. I enjoyed this run for itself.

During a stride. Cynthia was nice to pause and take pictures.
After the strides we had about four minutes to cool down running slowly, and then we finished up the lap around the pond by walking. All told, it was a bit over three miles in 30 minutes. I'm not a demonstrative person, but I was elated with how this run went. My cardiovascular fitness is about as good as it could be given the lay-off from running and the tedium of the recumbent bike, and my legs didn't let me down at all. At the end, I felt hungry for more (my next run is on Friday).

Cynthia and I hugged and said goodbye at the cars. I wish we had had time to go out for a celebratory iced tea or coffee, but she had a work meeting to call into and I had a Pilates appointment. There wasn't a lot of time between arriving home and needing to leave again for that appointment, but my back and my left flank had started talking to me again on the walk to the cars. It wasn't much worse than I've felt on occasion post-Alter-G, but I wanted to nip it in the bud so I took some of my shower time to take a mini-ice bath and then drove down to Boulder with a package of peas stuck down my pants.

I think I am headed toward having a shot to finish off the inflammation, but I'm going to see how the month of bringing back running goes. At Pilates, Patty and I discovered that my IT bands and hamstrings are REALLY tight, much worse than I would have guessed. She gave me a new exercise called leg circles (mine are just like the "intermediate" ones in the link, where the model is using the band to help). This felt wonderful. And I'm going to attend Patty's class next week, so there's more Pilates in my future.

Today, though, was about one perfect run. It was about being outdoors, an understanding friend by my side, wind in the trees and on the water and the mountains above us like the beautiful but indifferent sentinels they are. It's a feeling I haven't had in too long.

Apologies to Maya Angelou, but this caged bird got to sing today.