Sunday, July 13, 2008

To run or not to run

I miss running. Until this morning the most I had run at one time, for the past 6 weeks, was about 3.5 miles. Sure, I've been beating my brains out swimming and cycling, and adding in some walking when the air quality was vaguely decent, but 3.5 miles. Last year by this time I had run 300 miles more than I've run this year. I miss it. A LOT.

With that in mind I decided to see how much running I could do, see if my knee was ok, see if my back was ok, see if I could breathe in this cruddy air. Although it's been upgraded to "moderate," that means the air quality is still bad. The team run was scheduled for 8:30 am this morning, in Walnut Creek, with my group running 40 minutes (it's another recovery week). Since I don't sleep I decided to get out there earlier, before the heat, and see what my body could do.

I felt tight the first mile or so, then it started to flow. My breathing wasn't great but it wasn't awful either. I walked up the big hill but it was during my regular 9:1 break anyway. I ran to just past the 3 mile turnaround and headed back. I ran down the big hill, trying out my knee, and it still felt ok. I was still feeling fine until about mile 5 then I hit the wall. Apparently not eating well for the past couple of weeks didn't work well. Go figure.

I slowed down a bit but made it back to the parking lot with close to 7 miles. I was tired and I wasn't going to run any additional miles with the team, but after a break of about 5 minutes I was feeling marginally better and decided to go back out for a mile or two. Which turned into a decision to go the scheduled 20 minutes out, 20 back.

I was slow as molasses and tired but I continued running. I switched to a 4:1 just to keep going and that worked fine. I had to run around the parking lot to get it in, but I finished with 9 miles. Nothing hurt. Not my knee, not my back, not anything. I felt pretty darn good physically and the mental improvement was incalculable. I needed that run.

So now the decision is whether or not to run the San Francisco Marathon, second half. I have a bit of a streak going at that race; since 2002 I've run the half 5 times and the full once. That makes me one of their "loyal runners" (even though for some reason their database isn't showing my 2003 half). I like the race (although I don't like their shirt), I like supporting a local marathon.

In my real, tri training the race is the day of a long bike ride, scheduled for over 2 hours, with a 15 minute run to follow. An important brick and one I hesitate to miss. But I want to run. I think I need to run. The decision will be imminent.

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