Bike, run, run or run, run bike…

So my activity pattern that has emerged over the past couple weeks has been a bike ride, a run, another run, then a day off or a run, another run, then a bike ride and a day off. One of the two runs is a shorter run of 3 miles, and then the second run is a bit longer of 5-6 miles. I think the mix or shorter runs, longer runs and a bike ride have been giving me ample time to rest and keeping my body health as I work back into increasing my weekly running mileage (and long runs). Unfortunately my bike rides recently have been indoors on my trainer. It is not as much fun, but the weather has prevented me from biking safely outside. This past Sunday I ran a 6 mile run (my second Sunday in a row), it was a bit cool outside (in the 20’s). I have two pictures below, one was before my run, and the other was after my run. I will let you, the reader decide which is which!

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6 Mile Run!

Yesterday morning I did my longest run in several years of 6 miles! I was very encouraged by successfully completing the run and feeling good the next day. I was worried before the run because my muscles in my lower left leg had cramped up on me a couple days earlier and still felt tight. I massaged and stretched out the muscles then eased into the run to make sure they were warmed up and ready to go. Below you can see the data from my run, I started off “slow” then inadvertently (not intentional!) picked up the pace for the second three miles. The run didn’t feel good the entire time, but it was a good run overall.

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It is dark so early!

On Monday I left my office about 5pm to go for a run and discovered it was practically dark outside. I was planning on doing 5 miles, but only ended up doing four because I couldn’t see any more. I already do not run with my glasses and when you add darkness on a trail that has no lights… well, that basically means I was running blind. So, note to self, start runs earlier!

I looked back at my first blog post just over a year ago; at that time I mentioned I weight 175lbs. While that is not considered overweight or obese for me, I was noticing changes in my body I was not happy with. Beyond the weight gain, I also noticed I was getting winded doing every day activities. Since then, I have dropped over 10lbs (down to about 164), and feel much better physically and even mentally! While I have no aspirations of getting back down to my college running weight (about 155lbs), I do want to get back into being able to run longer runs (10 miles or more) and racing 5k and up races.

I look at the progress I have made since getting the ok to start running again and have accomplished quite a bit. I started in April 2014 running for about 10 minutes 2-3 times a week (probably somewhere around 8:30 to 9 minute mile pace). I have gradually increased that amount every 3-4 weeks for the past seven months and am now running 4-5 times per week for 3-5 miles at 6:45-7:30 pace. I am excited about my progress and look forward to dropping my times and increasing my distances. This upcoming weekend I am planning on doing a 6-7 mile run which would be my longest run in probably 6 years! Below is a picture of my run last night, it is encouraging to see that my pace (for the most part) got faster as the run went on, even when there was some hills in the way.

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It’s Fall!

Fall time is here, within the last week the leaves have changed color and within the last couple days it seems like there are leaves on the ground everywhere. It is absolutely beautiful scenery when all the trees change color and leaves on the ground. This past weekend we also had amazing weather, if you did not get outside and do something then you missed out big time. I went out and watched the USI men’s and women’s cross country teams compete on Saturday. It was a shorts and t-shirt kind of day, very different then earlier in the week. The top finisher for the USI women was second place and the men took the top two places, overall, a very successful day for the program I think.

I have been continuing to bike and run consistently. My runs are feeling more and more comfortable. The picture below is the data from my watch, the graph with blue is the pace for my run yesterday. I got excited when I looked at the data and saw how even my pace was the entire run. I went back and looked at other runs, and basically, when I have tried to run consistently I have not been (because I am likely distracted by the watch) and when I ignore the fact I am wearing my watch I run at a constant pace. As I said in my previous post, I think I need to get past the novelty of wearing a watch and that is starting to happen. Regardless of the watch, I am continuing to run farther and my body is feeling good before, during, and after my runs which is much more than I could say in the recent past.

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Dear dog owners…

On my bike ride home yesterday, a big dog that was unleashed in their front yard (no owner in sight), came charging at me as I was riding by. It was very much a “OH S**T” moment, as I was going at least 25 miles an hour on a semi busy street, with a dog charging at me from my front right side not knowing if he was going to run into me, if I was going to have to swerve out of his way, etc. Anyone who has ridden a road bike knows that when incidents like that happen, you do not have much time to react. Luckily, the dog slowed as he got close to me and there were no injuries to myself or the dog. But dear dog owners, please leash your dogs who could very well become hazards to people exercising and cars driving by your house on a heavily used street (especially during rush hour)!

In my last post, I wrote that my wife gave me a Garmin GPS watch for my birthday. Before I got the watch I had been refraining from wearing a watch during my runs because I was just running on how I felt, not necessarily running for a certain distance or time. While I have enjoyed the data from the watch, I do wonder if I am running faster because I am wearing the watch. Is my competitive side coming out more because I now know my fastest mile and average mile pace during my runs? I think yes, but because I was not wearing a watch before I cannot say definitively. Of course, this could also be attributed to the novelty of the watch; it is a new toy, so I am paying more attention to the data on it then if I have been wearing it for a long time. Either way, I like it, I like the information it gives, and I will continue to wear it. So far my average mile pace has been between 7:15-7:25 with my fastest mile about 7 minutes. I know this is very far ahead of where I was four months ago when I wasn’t even able to run.

Mammoth Caves

My wife and I took advantage of the fall break (and to celebrate my birthday) by spending three days at Mammoth Caves National Park in Kentucky. I remember going to some caves in California when I was younger (I cannot remember the name of the caves I went to), but Mammoth was completely different. If you have not been to Mammoth, put it on your bucket list. I was amazed at not only the size of some of the chambers and tunnels within the caves, but also the history and other unique characteristics (massive stalagmites and stalactites). My wife and I went on four tours and saw four different parts of the cave. We went on two lantern tours, where instead of using the electric light systems they have in the cave we used gas lanterns. While the lanterns provided less light, they did provide a different perspective of the cave.

The explored part of the cave system is about 400 miles; we got to see maybe four miles of the cave system. I thought I would get claustrophobic, but there were very few parts where I had to crouch low or make myself small to get through passageways (I did have to duck a lot to not hit my head on the ceiling!). When I did feel claustrophobic, it wasn’t necessarily because I was in a cave, but being in a narrow passageway with people in front and behind me (thus, making the space seem smaller!). The cave lived up to its name of Mammoth, it is absolutely massive.

For my birthday my wife got me a Garmin watch, which is a GPS watch that keeps track of your running pace and distance (among other things). I tried it out a couple times and found out that a run I have been estimating as 4 miles is actually 3.5 and what I have been calling a 3 mile run is 2.9 miles. Considering I have not worn a watch during my runs for a long time, I think my estimations were pretty good!

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