From spotting American bison to eating “tachos” to running my longest distance in years, this was a week marked with several firsts.
But before we get into that, here’s what was on the schedule for week seven:
- Tempo run – 8 mi
- Track workout – 7 x 800s
- Long run – 17 mi
I had great intentions when mapping out a more scenic route for Tuesday’s longer tempo run. But, as they say, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”…
My goal was to do part of the run on some nice, soft trails through Golden Gate Park, which is much more forgiving than concrete.
The reality was that a quick eight-mile loop ended up being a tiring adventure. I ended up getting totally turned around in the park and had to rely on my phone’s GPS to find my way home, plus I could tell I wasn’t fully recovered from last weekend’s 15-miler.
By Thursday, I was hoping the lead would be out of my legs, but they were still feeling heavy from the previous two long runs.
Luckily, there was plenty of action on the track to keep my mind occupied during the speed intervals.
My times ranged from 3:36-3:46 for each 800-meter segment, which was just below the goal of 3:45-3:48, but felt tougher to maintain than in past weeks.
Quantitatively, the workout was a success…but qualitatively, it got me thinking about cutting down next week’s tempo run (currently scheduled for 10 miles) if I’m still feeling sluggish.
In the meantime, I’m focusing on fueling up with healthy fare like this quinoa-kale salad from Evolution Fresh, a Starbucks-owned chain out here in California that specializes in juices and salads.
I know I said I’d lay off the quinoa during training, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt in such a small amount, especially because this salad – complete with butternut squash, black beans and seeds mixed with a mild harissa sauce – is one of my favorites.
But then again, sometimes you just need to let loose…
Case in point: When your husband’s birthday coincides with 25-cent wing night at the local bar.
Those little nuggets of joy on the upper right are tachos, or tater tot nachos.
Yes, they’re as wonderful as they sound. No, they’re definitely not the best nutrition for training. But that didn’t stop me from devouring them. Potatoes count towards carb-loading, right?!
Good thing Saturday’s long run was a 17-miler! I was admittedly nervous going into it, though, because I haven’t run that far in years.
Brian (aka Pavement Runner) and I met up again to knock out a few miles through the Marina, along the Embarcadero and down Market Street before joining his usual Saturday morning group.
By the time Brian and I finished our run and started out with the group on their planned nine-miler, we had about 10.5 and 7.5 miles under our belts, respectively.
Feeding off the collective energy really helped, especially because my confidence, energy and sanity started wavering around mile 14.5. Thanks to kind words of encouragement from Brian, plus Milo’s nine-minute run/one-minute walk technique, I was able to keep plugging along.
The route took us through Golden Gate Park and right by the resident herd of American bison. It was a fun mid-run surprise (I had no idea they were there, so I had to do some research on them later) and, of course, we had to stop and get a picture.
By that time, we had just a handful of miles to go, so between the good conversation and a final push from energy gels and chews, we were able to finish strong. Sweaty, but happy, we trekked over to a nearby coffee shop to grab some post-run treats.
It was a morning that made me realize why I love running and why I do things like train for marathons when friends and family (and, let’s face it, even I sometimes) question why.
I used to say it was worth it for than moment when you cross the finish line, that sense of elation and accomplishment. But for as great as the PR’s and fun race medals are, what it’s really all about is the community.
Regardless of where we came from – or where we are going – when we’re on a run together, we’ve got something in common that unites us. And that’s rewarding enough in itself.
So with that in mind, it’s with renewed enthusiasm that I venture into week eight…stay tuned; we’re almost to the halfway point!