Boy, I wasn’t sure about this whole racing thing. I’ve been enjoying my leisurely solo jaunts around the block, the almost daily meanderings around the little suburban maze of my immediate ‘hood with the kids and Tucker, and proclaiming myself not a slave to any dangling carrots.
Tucker is our 4 month old Shih-Tzu/Bichon Frise puppy, btw. Part of the family. Beloved by all of us. Not excluding yours truly who was very slow and grudging to commit to getting a dog (if I wanted more creatures to depend on me I would have had more children!) but now sees this white furball of barely 7 pounds as something to incessantly dote on.
This is Tucker... he is spunky and wiggly. His favorite things to do are eat, run, and bark at the neighbor dogs being walked past our house as he watches from the window. He loves naps, cuddles, and bacon, in no particular order. He is also not shy at all with new people and will beg to be held and give puppy kisses. Especially if you have dog smells on you from your own furbaby! The farthest he has run is 3 miles. He is VERY happy to have the little humans home from school these days.
But as for the dangling carrots, dang it, Dave. DANG IT! I’m out of shape for racing and not in the mood for it, either! But since you arranged the first of the series on my weekend off work, and I really have been feeling good on a couple of recent runs and- okay, fine, I’ll do it.
The weather was perfect. Cloudy, just under 50 degrees. I started my 5-ish mile loop. Regardless which direction I go from my house, the first mile is mostly uphill, and no, there is nothing I can do to prevent that. Does it give me a slightly unfair advantage in a race? Maybe. But to be fair, the cooldown mile is usually solid downhill as well, soooo… it’s not like I get all the downhill back in the middle miles.
I knew this “race” would be a little more challenging than a regular race. For starters, there are no rabbits. I tend to run much better with some competition. Second, I live in an area where there are lots of people out and about on weekends, adults walking their pets willy-nilly on either side of the street or kids riding bikes. This has increased a lot with the stay-at-home orders in place. Normally I just hope that I can hold that snot rocket back until I’m well past them, try to establish in my own mind that I did indeed apply deodorant before the run, and go about my merry way. Now though, nope. I’m getting off the roadway, and in the ditch if necessary, to get an acceptable distance between us. If I get any suspicious looks, whatever. Feel free to ask me what I do for a job and when I tell you, you will probably become a runner on the spot. One that’s fleeing me.
Anyway. The warmup was slow and rusty. A couple people out and about. I stopped to chat/holler from a distance with a neighbor who was on the front porch. It’s nice how people go the extra effort to shout hello and ask each other how it’s going, now that the privilege of being social has its limits. I hope that goodwill continues.
I ease into the first mile. By ease, I mean huff and puff. Holy crap, this is hard. Ugh. I am honestly relieved that I have to stop for a minute at the intersection because vehicles are turning in from a busy cross street and I am one to always yield to cars because well, I am a bug and they are the windshield. Getting back into a smooth pace was hard after that. Especially since I was hitting a slight ascent. Telling myself I just need to hang on until I hit the flat part, yes please. 7:15. Meh.
Mile 2 was definitely the butter run, if there was any butter present, of this race. Because I haven’t gotten around to setting my new Garmin 235 to lap pace (because I haven’t raced and I haven’t cared about pace), I don’t have a good idea of what mile pace I’m running during each mile. So I was surprised when it came in at 7:08. Though I did stop to let cars pass me on both street crossings on the slight out and back portion to get to a full 5 miles on this not-quite-5 loop. And that mile had a lot of downhill so there’s that.
And then because I haven’t raced in awhile and I might as well be a newb all over again, the third mile was painful. Obviously I started out too fast, surprise, surprise. I managed to hold on somewhat reasonably, even though another out and back at the end of the block meant that I was running the final .1 uphill. Came in at a hard-fought 7:23 and then a rather excruciating .1 in 45 seconds.
There ya have it. Female, 35-37 AG, 22:30 if I calculated correctly (7:14, 7:08, 7:23 + the 45 seconds for .1 mile) Definitely unofficial with the stops and a net downhill BUT that’s the hardest I’ve pushed in a long time and was pleasantly surprised to not collapse in agony at that pace. Muscle memory is kind of nice, I guess, and all these junk maintenance miles have maybe been more maintenance and less junk.
A post-race pic!
I have also lost about 5-6 pounds lately, off of my “normal” weight that I’ve been at for years…thanks to work and a bit of personal stress/distress that’s a whole other bloop that will probably never materialize. But yay for the couple of seconds per mile for each pound less?
I was so pumped about having had a decent workout that I ran extra (AFTER stopping my watch for awhile and wheezing out half a lung, lord have mercy) cooldown distance. Up a hill. Just because. And then back down. For 6 total! And because Tucker cannot bear it when I come into the house with running shoes on when HE didn’t get a walk or run yet today, I took him out for another 2 miles. Which I regretted because I wanted to trot along at a nice 10-11 minute pace, but NOOOO, the fluffball had other ideas. He stops abruptly. often, and without warning, but just for a couple seconds at a time. Otherwise, it's 8:30-9:30 pace, straining at the leash, C'MON MOM!
I was tired. But a good tired. Thanks, Dave, for putting this together and maybe I’ll participate again in the future. On a weekend I’m not working, because 3 x 12 hour shifts back-to-back don’t mesh well with racing at all...
Speaking of work, just going to mention a little. Erie has had 8 cases of covid-19 so far, 2 of which were transported by our ambulance service (neither of them my unit). So far, thanks to the utmost care whenever covid-19 patients are handled, those crews have not yet appeared with symptoms. Whenever specific symptoms are present, we suit up accordingly. We wipe everything down in the ambulance before and after every patient, every shift. Still, testing is scarce and we are not naïve about the fact that probably numerous covid patients have been in and out of our ambulances and will continue to do so, perhaps in much larger numbers in the coming days. Everyone at work is upbeat and strong, but we are wary. Things are made more difficult by the scarcity of masks and protective gear, both with 911 agencies and in the hospitals we frequent and transfer patients to every day. We work closely with the doctors and nurses and try to communicate as much as we can about which patients may be or could be infected. We protect ourselves as best we can. An unpleasant side effect is that we are seeing more alcohol and drug abuse, more volatile situations and scenes such as domestic altercations and attempts of harm to to others and/or suicides, which is as scary to first responders as potential illness (and far more likely to end badly). What can we say—this is our job, our calling. We would volunteer our services even if not hired to do so. I chose to do this work. I couldn’t stay home and pretend my kids matter more than other people’s kids when I have the training to do this and maybe make a difference. I worry more about giving it than getting it. I pray a lot. Thank you to all you folks who have been social distancing, supporting, thinking of, praying for people on the front lines. We are all in this together and we need you guys to do your part with staying home. Each person is "essential" in the prevention of this spread!
I am grateful to have a job. Had I stayed where I was before, I would be laid off and not able to get unemployment benefits since I was part-time. I truly love what I do, and no less so because of this. This work gives me such purpose. My husband is in electrical service and repair, so considered essential as well. My scheduled shifts are nights from 5:30pm/5:30am so I am able to be here with the kids during the day. It's a little challenging to get them helped with schoolwork on top of working 45+ hours a week, but their teachers have been amazing with Zoom meetings and classes and the kids amaze me with their technological abilities (Zoom WHAT?). My heart goes out to all the folks who have lost jobs or are scared for their family-owned businesses- on top of fear of illness. These are hard times. I can’t even put into words how I feel about it, from every angle, and how it affects everything and everyone. But the human spirit is brave and hopeful. We'll get through this, and I pray we get to the other side of it as soon as possible.
At least running is not taken from us. Like always, running helps and heals. I encourage it, or any outdoor physical activity, to other people regularly. Families of patients or people who ask what they should or should not do to prevent this. By all means, go outside. Your mental health is so important. The virus is far less likely to be outdoors than in any structure or building or vehicle. Shoring up your immune system with exercise and a good diet might mean the difference in fighting off the virus if you do get it. Keep running if you can! But far enough from others that a snot rocket doesn’t stand a chance of hitting them.