Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Breathing Through It

It’s about time: after months of trying to find a way to run anything but my in-a-hurry-to-get-anywhere pace, I found my limiting reagent. The midday heat.

I know, I know that’s not the kind of slowing down I’ve been targeting, but I was able to run 3.52 miles this afternoon at 8:51 pace around Kent. It was, more than anything else, an accomplishment just to complete the run for me.

I walked the 1.5 miles to the rec. center over lunch and could tell the mugginess wasn’t going to be friendly to my lungs. So, I tried to be reasonable. I set my sights on an EASY 30-minute run. And that’s just what I did.

The walk over made for a nice warm-up to the run. Unfortunately, I forgot my socks and had to run sockless with those stupid ballet-slipper blisters from last night. It was only mildly uncomfortable… and just a bit foot-sweaty. Lucky for me I didn’t pick up any additional impediments.

So, I struck out on the road and focused on running a very easy first mile, which came in around 8:42. It’s always fun running around campus after classes have let out, and it was even better to run up the uber hill (I call it the huffer-puffer hill) that heads out of campus without complications. I swear every time I ran that hill during the semester a PARTA bus would smog me as I heaved and hoed up that hill. Just as I would reach the crest and take a big breath a big plume of smoke would consume me.

Today I was just smogged by a garbage truck and cement truck. What can I say? I’m really fortunate in some areas.

But the nicest thing about an uber uphill is the lovely downhill that generally follows. I tried not to take too much advantage of the hill (because I was trying to maintain that slow, steady pace… and, you know, my ability to breathe) and actually ended up slowing my second mile to 9:02.

As I rounded the front of campus and longed for an iced green tea as I trotted past Starbucks, I felt fairly comfortable with my pace and was breathing at a very normal rate for me. There was no wheezing, gasping, wanting to die.

See, last year I spent most of the year running on a track and thought it would be a good idea to taking my skills to the hilly streets of late-July Kent. It must have been in the lower 90s with 1000% humidity. Every perceivable part of campus was under construction and tractors, bulldozers and workers were kicking up as much dust and dirt as possible. It was like an ozone action day on speed. And there I was. Running.

Suffice it to say that less than two miles into the run I was two seconds from either having an asthma attack and dying of shame (I was running with a friend) or just plopping on the ground and crying. The shame thing would have kicked in there too.

Until then, I had been under the impression that I was in great running shape. And I was… so long as that running was done on a climate-controlled track with a flat surface.

That was the last time I ran in really warm conditions (and it was after that occasion that I pretty much quit running until January 2007). As the weather began to pick up this year, I wanted to stay outside and ease myself into summer with the hope that my improved physical and mental conditions would lend themselves to an easier time breathing. So far so good. But we’ll see what the remainder of this summer has in store.

Having slowed a little more than I had preferred, I picked up my pace as I neared the end of my targeted 30-minute run. I headed back to the rec. center at an 8:44/mile pace for the last mile and a half. It wasn’t as far as I would have liked to have run, but this time of year is about building up for me.

And learning how different running in the early morning (my weekend routine), in the evening (my weekday tendency) and in the middle of the day. It’s no wonder I’ve avoided lunchtime running for the past three weeks!

But it’s back to the pool for me tomorrow. As I walked back the 1.5 miles to work this afternoon, I was burning for a swim. Today’s run will be a good lesson for tomorrow as well: I have a long way to go to get back to the 3,000-4,000 yards I was swimming a few weeks ago.

On one last positive note, I've run 29.7 miles toward my 100-miles-in-four-weeks goal (started last Tuesday, May 22). Not bad! I have about 70 miles to cover in 20 days...


Jim said...

I feel your pain with the heat. No fun. It's gonna take some creative scheduling on my part down here to get in workouts between bouts of 95ers. Nice job on clicking off those miles toward the 100 mile goal.