Sunday, May 18, 2014

Making the most of opportunities

There were plenty of running races in town this weekend, including a big half marathon. I'd strongly considered running the 10K race that was part of the half marathon, but Mr. Mom duties kept me from doing so. In the early afternoon, it alternately poured rain or streamed sunshine through the clouds. Then it was time to go to the airport to pick my wife up, and when we got home, I had a small window of time to go running before dinner. Yea!

The gym that I belong to has a lot of good things, but the hours of operation are not one of those. Sunday hours are noon to 6 p.m. Still, I knew I could get in a 3-4 mile run before closing. Five miles would've been ideal, since I could watch an entire episode of "Justified" in that distance, but my window wasn't that long.

On the other hand, the skies looked like they were clearing. Sort of. Running outside would also save me about 10 minutes of round-trip transit time (driving up the hill to the gym, parking, walking in, and the reverse).

Outside it was. Because of the clouds or maybe because my smartphone is getting old, it took a while to get a GPS lock for RunKeeper. (Yes, sometimes I feel like a dork standing outside, dressed in running clothes, holding my smartphone up to the sky in a vain attempt to speed up the GPS satellitel acquisition....)

For entertainment, I was listening to the audiobook of Peter F. Hamilton's Pandora's Star, which is the first giant book in a space opera series. (I've read the entire series but that was a while ago, and listening is a different experience.)

I started with a comfortable but fast pace, basically between 7:30 to 8:00 depending on the slope of the hills. (I live in a hilly part of town, so unless I run on the track, it's impossible to have a flat run; hence, even pacing is also near impossible, and instead, it's more of even effort.) The early part of the out-and-back route was what I'd call rolling hills. At the 1.15 mile mark, I began the sharpest downslope, a drop of almost 200 feet in altitude over about 2/3 of a mile.

You want to know what running downhill does for your speed? That 2/3 of a mile was entirely sub-7:00, with parts registering (per RunKeeper) as fast as sub-6:20, which is faster than my current 5K pace, but it wasn't more than a 3 on a 1-5 effort scale.

Of course, just before 2 miles, the bill came due for that downhill section, as I had to head back up the same hill. Apart from one tough segment where I slowed to a near 9:00 pace, I managed to keep my pace under 8:00 even while ascending.

The mile splits ended looking like this:

mile 1: 7:38 with -33 feet climb

mile 2: 7:01 with -133 feet climb

mile 3: 7:43 with 157 feet climb

I got home and figured I had maybe 10 more minutes of workout time (factoring in showering time, etc.) before dinner, and I considered tacking on an easy mile or so. But laziness won out, and I headed inside.

I had just enough time to take off my running shoes and get a big glass of ice water before it started to pour outside. Not the usual kind of misty drizzle we get in the Pacific Northwest eight months of the year, but really hard stuff that's usually accompanied by crashing thunder and dazzling lightning. Whew!

Note to self: next time, no how matter how short of a planned run, if it looks at all like there might be rain, bring a ziplock bag to protect smartphone, just in case.

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