Sunday, July 19, 2009

Running with Family

Over the past few days, I have been in Pennsylvania with many members of my mom's side of the family to celebrate the life of my Aunt Lani, who lost her fight against cancer in June. Though this is a sad occasion, I am grateful that it has brought us all has been a long time since I have seen many of my relatives, especially those who have lived on the West Coast, but for some reason insist on moving further and further east.

As I head down to the hotel's lobby before my morning run, I not only bump into a number of my relatives enjoying breakfast, but also my cousin Dave...who looks ready to run.

Earlier this trip, I learned that Dave has had difficulty establishing a regular running routine since moving to Paris, France (he's obviously moved the furthest east). That said, though he only gets to run perhaps once a week, he has been doing 7 milers, averaging between 8 and 9 minutes per mile. Since I had planned on averaging 8:30/mile for 7 miles today, running together is a no brainer.

On Friday, I ran an orbit around Pittsburgh Mills, the mall situated around our hotel...and was disappointed that the complete orbit (including the adjacent Sam's Club and Wal-Mart Supercenter) is only 3.5 miles. Dave and I ask the front desk for suggested running routes, but the suggestions are completely worthless. We decide to wing it.

Armed with my trusty Garmin, I set the pace and choose our route on-the-go. This unexpectedly cool and overcast morning is a refreshing change from Friday's heat and humidity. While running, I learn that my cousin has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, been doing triathlons, has also run a full marathon (completing it in less time than my first despite never having run more than 7 miles before that including while training). He shared amusing anecdotes about his full marathon (being passed by a guy wearing a shirt stating "82 and still running") and half marathon (his 2 seconds of fame when he is mistaken by the press as the winner). Time passes quickly.

Despite only making left turns while outside the perimeter of Pittsburgh Mills, we somehow find our way back to Pittsburgh Mills Blvd. Rejoining the orbit gives us 6.69 miles by the time we return to the an average 8:26/mile.

Before this trip, I knew there were a couple half marathoners in the family and a 3rd cousin who is registered for the next New York Marathon (his first full), but this is the most I learned about Dave in decades. You learn so much more when you reconnect in person. Hopefully it won't take another memorial celebration to get any of us together again...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fast 7 Mile Run

Some runs do not go as planned.

My alarm is set to wake me up at 5:30am. I intend to start a 6 mile run before it gets too hot. It goes off. I am completely oblivious...and do not wake up until after 6:45. When I realize I will not be ready before 8:00, I contemplate shortening my run to 5 miles. Not having run since Sunday, I start worrying that my legs will rebel...perhaps a 3 miler will be sufficient. I finally step outside at 8:45.

One thing I have realized since I started running again is that I should never let concerns dictate workouts.

For starters, as soon as I step outside, I realize my concern about the temperature is overblown. Yes, the sun is hitting hard, but a breeze compensates for the heat. I start running uphill (as is usually the case) and am not feeling nearly as winded as I expected when I reach the top. When I start downhill, my pace picks up faster than I expect and I complete mile 3 in less than 7 minutes. When I reach the bottom of the hill half-way through my 4th mile, I realize I am on track to match the pace of my 3rd, so, even though I have a half mile ascent ahead, I make the effort to maintain the pace...and actually end up beating it.

Since the ascent continues, I conserve energy over the next mile...but am surprised to see that my pace did not slow as much as I expected. I start thinking about setting a fast 10Km split knowing I cannot match my PR (achieved on a run featuring significantly less elevation change). That said, I anticipate a time better than last year's hilly 10Km race.

I beat it by more than a minute.

To achieve this time, I had turn my ascent into interval training...a benefit of this not being a race day. Just keep in mind that speed was the last thing on my mind before I started today's run. Nor was distance. I feel good enough to add an extra half-mile down- and uphill segment to my workout, so I do without hesitation.

Some runs do not go as planned...and that can be a good thing.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

First 15 Mile Run of 2009

I have had a few 14+ milers, but today is my first to crack 15.

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