Saturday, April 19, 2008

Twice the Towpath Action

Meet Benjie. He’s an energetic three-year-old cocker (he looks like a Sussex) spaniel currently hanging out at the Euclid Animal Shelter. Rumor has it that his parents split, so they ditched their baby and went their separate ways. Not only is he already housebroken, Benjie knows how to sit and play nice with kids.

So, if you’re looking for a lovable pooch (or know someone who is), head to the Euclid Animal Shelter. He looks so much like my ol’ Skippy that it melts my heart. And I can’t imagine what it’s like for the little guy to go from a warm, happy home to the pound. I’d like to bring him into my warm, happy home, but we won’t be in it for another 1.5 months (which probably means I should stop looking at pups for now), and he shouldn’t have to wait so long!

Surely someone is looking for a good running, sitting and fetching buddy, right?

Speaking of running buddies, the Towpath is my new running buddy. We’re thick as thieves now, and it has warmed my heart to learn from Landon and TriGuyJT that I won’t be Towpath-less in Cleveland. The thing stretches for miles and miles. Woo hoo! I’ll also have North Chagrin for running, and I’m hitting the muddy trails there very soon.

Even with the Towpath an exit away, I still had trouble early this week conquering my laziness. It was less that I lacked energy or that my legs were heavy, I just couldn’t get my shoes on and myself out the door. In fact, it wasn’t until Wednesday that I met up with Landon for our weekly run.

Landon was nice enough to travel all the way to Peninsula and to let me know about other access points. Wednesday weather was stellar for a trek down the path, but it was also my first bout with dehydration this season.

Generally I don’t bring water with me when I run; I just either plan a pass by the car for a sip, a route that hits water fountains or a distance that can go waterless (with upped hydration for 1-2 days prior). But the first run in 70+ degrees can run you dry.

Before Landon arrived, I ran a little over a mile to warm up and then we hit the trail for close to 10 miles. We probably ran around nine miles a touch under 9:50/mile and then walked the last mile or so because we were just bone dry. I had yet to become a salt shaker, but I could feel my sweat beginning to dry up and it was only a matter of time before my face got crusty and white.

With that in mind, I gulped some Gatorade before my Friday run on the path and kept my distance a little shorter this time. I totally blew my training plan this week—I was scheduled to run 6x800m at 10K pace on Tuesday, easy five miles on Wednesday, tempo 7.5 miles on Thursday and rest on Friday. But I did none of them.

Running the ten miles on Wednesday definitely made me feel better about blowing off the early week training, but I was still feeling guilty by Friday. And it got me to thinking about my “speed” work.

I haven’t taken the speed portion of this plan very seriously. As you know, I took last year’s half-marathon training plan very literally (even though it wasn’t written up specifically for me) and ended up with a stress fracture. So, after almost 1.5 years running, I’ve finally learned to listen to my body and its need to build up endurance, muscle and acid-buffering before I think about being speedracer.

That being said, I ditched the 6x800 this week, but didn’t want to totally nix the tempo run. I now realize that even if I’m doing “speed” work or tempos that I don’t have to sprint and that upping my pace doesn’t mean break-leg speeds. And I’ve said that before. I just don’t seem to remember it while I’m running.

When I hit the Towpath last night, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. Friday was supposed to be a rest day, after all. So, I mixed it up.

Following a 15-minute warm-up, I ran four “comfortably hard” miles with 90-second recovery walks in between—a sort of tempo/reps run that actually felt all right. I didn’t feel energetic at all during my warm up, and I couldn’t fathom running 7.5 tempo miles. Not only am I lazy, but I just don’t think my body is there yet.

Nevertheless, I wanted to still push my lactic threshold and get some of the benefits of my would-be workouts. Here’s how it worked out:
  • Warm-up 1.5 miles at 10:00/mile
  • 4 x 1600 (8:40, 8:30, 8:12, 7:38)
  • Cool down 2 miles at 10:00/mile
I started out pretty sluggish, but my legs came back about half way through mile two. And as I pushed through miles three and four, I consciously reminded myself that the burning in my legs was a good, that my body was learning to deal with lactic acid and that the only way to feel OK in the future was to keeping pumping my arms, keeping breathing and keep running. So, I did.

The best part of running on the Towpath is the mile markers. When I run in familiar neighborhoods, I generally know distances if I take particular paths, but get me off course I don’t know the difference between three and twenty miles!

And was I ever happy to see my final milemarker! By the fourth mile, my legs had really relaxed and were feeling the burn, but not as intensely as the first two. In fact, I was really surprised at the time because that leg had gone so smoothly. It didn’t occur to me that I’m run my fastest-ever recorded mile when my pace felt that comfortable.

Overall, I covered close to 8.5 miles and ran 7.5 of them. I made it back to my car—salt free—and chugged some more Gatorade. The intensity of the workout didn’t really hit me until 9 p.m. when I was conked out in front of the Indians game, deliriously asking Neil questions that I probably won’t remember.

I had an awesome couscous, chicken sausage and pumpkin seed recovery dinner and a great night’s sleep, so I feel just swell this morning. Now, if only I had a dog to play with on this bright and sunny Saturday morning.


Natalie Prodan said...


I don't think this "pet shelter" is run by the Human Society. Therefore this dog will be put to sleep within 2 weeks.

That is what was happening to Biko. Someone found him, turned him into the Cleveland Pound and I saved him 2 hours before literally being put down.

I stress for those pet owners who cannot keep a pet. It is your responsibility to find it a new home. NEVER EVER give away a pet for free otherwise you risk puppy mills, testing labs and other "freaks" picking up your pet. Or worse, your pet is placed into the "shelter" or "pound" only to be terminated within 2 weeks. Always ask for references and follow through them to make sure that your pet is going to a good home!

Very sad! I hope this dog finds a new home fast!

While I'm on my soap box. This is why all pets must be neutered or spayed. God forbid you lose your pet at least it is protected from establishing more unwanted pets.

Lastly, people who can give a pet daily outdoor time, exercise and daily attention should get a pet. Otherwise it's cruel to be kept indoors alone with no attention, no exercise, holding "business" for more than 8 hours. :(

Oy! Biko's vet would go on for hours about that last comment and all the health issues he's seen due to owners doing this to their dogs. :(

tracie said...

awwww he looks just like my cocker charlie that we had when i was a teenager. :( can't he come and live quietly for a few months till it's time to move??? he would be an awesome running buddy on the towpath! ;)

triguyjt said...

what a gorgeous little cocker spaniel.(we have a springer spaniel, but bailey is a grand old gal at 12 plus years.

you can't go wrong...towpath or north chagrin... also..check out
chagrin river park (just off lost nation road exit on route 2)..they had nice short loops, even a sled hill with 52 steps that you can do bounding up for stuff...gorgeous river runs through it...lots of fishermen in the spring... real nice place...

ran a strong 80 minutes at north chagrin friday..but neglected the hydration factor...stupid of me..i thought the fountain by squires castle was available, but it was not operating..dumb move on my part..

Tracy said...

It makes me F****** sick to my stomach that someone could leave their baby/ bff at a pound. G, I am not sure the Euclid shelter is a no - kill. Check into that.

Dana said...

Ok. That dog is just too CUTE! It's too bad you won't be in your new home for another month or so.

You're lucky that you can plan your runs to include water stops so you don't have to carry it w/ you. I have to use a fuel belt(I run the subdivisions & don't think the homeowners would like it if I came knocking on their door for some water).

Speed is going to be something I'm going to work on once I get my body used to the road again. I hear ya on going too fast too soon..& hello stress fracture!