Sunday, September 16, 2012

Is it Fall Yet?

Friday was my first off day since last Sunday.  I know most of you are thinking "Awe, poor thing, had to work a whole 4 days in a row" and yes I would normally agree with you. However,  12 hr shifts in the ER will take it out of you a little quicker than your typical desk job.  Changing careers later in life has taught this "old dog" a few things for sure.  Anyway, as I was saying, I was off yesterday and got up at my usual 6:00am.  Sat down with a cup of coffee, how I love a coffee machine with a timer, and turned on the news.  As fate would have it, the weather came on about the same time I sat down.  Living in the South you really don't expect the temps to improve until late October and I had not seen a full weather report for the past 4 days.  To my surprise, the current temp was listed as 60, even lower in a few areas, and my heart began to flutter.  Was it real, had Fall already arrived without my knowing?  Who cares, its cool, the humidity is low, get out of that chair and let's go!

I had planned to run sometime in the day, but originally thought it might be later since I did not get home until midnight from work.  Of course everything changed when I saw those temps and knew I had to take advantage of this gift before it was gone.  Running on tired legs is never much fun, but sometimes it takes pushing a bit to make advances and with my next race looming on October 6th, Marine Corp 1/2 Marathon in Jacksonville Florida, I need to make some advances.  So I swallowed the last few drops of coffee in my cup and got myself ready to head out the door.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I live in a neighborhood that is not really runner friendly.  Rolling hills, dogs, narrow roads, no sidewalks, etc. make it a difficult place to just step out and run so I usually go to one of the areas of town where I can hit the trails or run a road route with little traffic and sidewalks.  I jumped in the car and headed on my way, not really sure where I wanted to run.  I felt lead to the trails, which seems to happen more often than not, where I could enjoy the early morning sunshine and a little shade from the trees.  So I pointed my car in the direction of some of the closest trails and made my way to the starting point.  When I stepped out of the car, the cool air welcomed me and filled my lungs letting me know I had unquestionably made the right choice in time and location for my run.

I've been running long enough to know I should start out slow and increase my tempo as the miles build. Of course, when the weather is so perfect, I usually start out much to fast and then try to hang on.    This run was no different and I took off hard and checked my split at the end of the first mile and realized I was about 25 seconds faster than I should.  I thought about slowing down, but took a deep breath of that amazing coolness surrounding me and said what the heck and just kept pushing.  The miles just seemed to melt away.  When I crossed mile marker #2 I felt like I was just getting warmed up good.  By mile #3 my breathing had completely settled down and I was in a rhythm that hopefully could sustain me throughout the rest of the run.  With miles #4 and #5 came the revelation that all runners have about this time of year: This is why I run in those 90 plus degree days of Summer.  We all suffer in the oppressive heat and humidity just so we can reap the benefits during the Fall racing season.

With no set distance in mind when I started, I settled upon the number 7.  I had not run in about five days and my last run was about 5 miles so this would extend that just a bit.   Legs still feeling good and breathing easier than I could have hoped, I slid passed mile 6 and on into 7.  I hit the stop on my watch and checked my average pace and time.  I was surprised to see I had completed my 7 miles with an average pace of 8:37 per mile and total time of 58:59 and I could not have been happier.  Not only had I gotten my run in, I had improved on my pace and time from the last run.  All that was left was a little Powerade® Zero and about 15 minutes of stretching and I was ready for the day.  I know running is not for everyone and not everyone that runs enjoys the same type of weather.  That being said, I am and will always be a professed cool weather runner.  I hate running in the Summer heat and humidity.  Give me 45 degrees and cloudy any day over 95 and sunny.  So I say Hello Fall and thank you for coming.

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