Run 658: Strobe light

I hemmed and I hawed while heading out today. Would I:

  1. Be lazy and just walk to the end of the river trail and run back (2K)?
  2. Be less lazy and do a 5K, but start right at the entrance to the river trail, minimizing total time required for walking/running
  3. Carry on to the lake and do a quick loop running 2.5K and then doubling back

I ended up going for option #3 and was glad I did.

It was somewhat humid again but cooler than last time, resulting in some sweating, but also my mouth not really drying out. This was a good compromise, really, and probably provided a bit of an energy boost.

The strobe light part happened because the sun was low enough that it was shining through the tops of the trees when I was running westward, producing a distinct strobing effect. It’s a bit distracting. By reversing after 2.5K I completely avoided the effect on the way back, thus saving myself from getting bedazzled and running off the trail and into a clutch of giant skunk cabbage.

Also of note, I saw a squirrel on the trail holding a chestnut in its mouth–with the outer shell/skin still on it. You know, the one that’s covered in spiky bits. This must be the squirrel equivalent of eating Cap’n Crunch.

I found a comfortable pace from the start and maintained it throughout, completing the run without that OMG WHY HASN’T THIS ENDED YET?! feeling hitting me.

As a result, I shaved four seconds off my previous pace, had an even lower BPM and just generally felt a lot better. Running the lake trail is more technical than the river, though it’s pretty mild in terms of curves and dips, but it’s still so much nicer to run on an actual travel and not a seldom-used-by-vehicles service road, so the extra walking is worth it. Plus, with the resurfacing going on now between Piper Spit and Phillips Point, the entire loop is pretty much 100% exposed tree root-free. Even when the leaves pile up in the fall, I won’t have to worry about snagging a foot on one of those evil wood things. Woo!

When that resurfacing is done, the only remaining area will be the strip alongside the athletic fields, which can still flood or get very swampy from the rain, or even when they run the sprinklers for too long. The drainage in the area is a bit lacking.

In any case, it’s good to be back to a regular run routine. Here’s hoping my body doesn’t goof it all up.

Stats:

Run 658
Average pace: 6:12/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 4:29 p.m.
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 31:10
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 19ºC
Humidity: 50%
Wind: light
BPM: 150
Weight: 177.8
Total distance to date: 4895 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 12
Shoes: Brooks Caldera 5 (25 km)

Run 657: The sweaty detour

I dithered a bit on getting out today and wasn’t sure if I’d walk, run or do some crazy combo. As is the case when I face this sort of indecision, I walked to the end of the river trail, hoping to find an answer along the way. And I did!

I decided to do another looping 5K run at the lake, this time going clockwise because of variety and all that.

I got to the lake under partly cloudy skies–nice for running! I started out, thinking about where I’d be on the trail when I hit the 2.5K mark and had to turn around. I noticed it was very humid.

Setting down the Avalon trail, I passed a few people and off in the distance noticed someone walking down from the Freeway trail. No one walks on the Freeway trail pretty much unless they have to, because it is completely exposed and, true to its name, within sight of the highway, which is not really the most scenic thing to look at when out for a nice run.

This turned out to be the case, because when I got to the spot where the trail splits, the turn-off for the lake loop had a big ol’ sawhorse blocking it with a TRAIL CLOSED sign on it. Fooey.

Having no choice, I continued on the Freeway trail. The sun also came out. Combined with the high humidity, I began sweating like crazy and felt like some invisible energy vampire had suddenly arrived to take my energy, because that’s what they do.

When I reached the first fork leading back to the lake loop, there was another sawhorse, but this one was pushed aside, so I tentatively set down the path. The parks people were doing some kind of remedial work at Ramsay Creek, and I could see equipment parked on the bridge. Another runner (or at least I think he might have been as he was drenched in sweat) was walking ahead of me and seemed to get through, but I decided to head back, along the forbidden part of the trail that was CLOSED, thinking I would not encounter any work, equipment or things of that nature due to the CLOSED part.

I was right! In fact, the trail was blissfully empty right up until I approached the first sawhorse from the other side. I zipped around it, feeling a little naughty about the whole thing.

Since I was going to come up short on 5K, I had to cross over the dam and run a ways counter-clockwise to make up the difference. I found a tiny bit of gas to finish and ended up with a pace of 6:15/km, only one second slower than my previous lake run. Not bad considering how humid it was. Did I mention the humidity? It was very humid.

Other than the energy-sapping humidity, I encountered no issues while running, so overall I’m pleased to have gotten out and continue to build on my 5Ks. I don’t have any great plans on where to take this, I’m just going to keep running regularly for as long as I can and take any improvements in stamina and increased leg sexiness as they come.

Stats:

Run 657
Average pace: 6:16/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 3:29 p.m.
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 31:25
Weather: Sun and cloud
Temp: 22ºC
Humidity: 62%
Wind: light
BPM: 152
Weight: 178.1
Total distance to date: 4895 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 12
Shoes: Brooks Caldera 5 (20 km)

Run 656: Planned and prepared

I returned to the lake today and ran a 5K clockwise in what I used to refer to as the “easy” way around the lake, because it seems to slop somewhat more downhill. In retrospect, I don’t think it’s much different. Visually it’s more interesting because you’ve got boardwalks, some close-ups of the lake itself, plus fields and the possibility of encountering a horse.

I did not see any horses today.

The weather was pleasantly warm, but a tad humid, so I was both sweating and feeling a bit parched by the end. I felt a stitch threaten on my left side at one point, but kept a steady of somewhat sloggy pace, and emerged unscathed.

Because today was Labor Day, the trail was packed full of people who apparently say the following to themselves on every stat holiday: “Well, I guess I should go out and see nature or something.” Fortunately, all dogs were leashed, people with bikes were pushing them instead of riding, and everyone was generally aware and polite, save for one guy walking with what may have been his son and wife and was utterly oblivious to my presence and completely blocked my way around him until I was almost literally breathing down his neck. Technically that doesn’t count, as I had already finished the 5K, but even though the run felt like it took a lot of effort, I found enough gas to run on and off as I made my way to the end of the lake loop.

The two runs at the lake have been remarkably consistent–pace has been very similar, and my BPM has been exactly the same each time. This also marks my sixth run of the year, now putting me ahead of all 2020. Woo for clearing an admittedly low bar!

Not to go all TMI, but I went to the bathroom before heading out due to the Embarrassing Incident on the previous run. This was smart, but I know my body and felt there was a good chance I’d have to go again when I arrived at the lake. Sure enough, I had to make use of the Jiffy John™ after getting there. I was unsurprised to find the loo had no toilet paper. But I had anticipated this and brought my own! (Not a whole roll, just enough.)

I did cheat a smidgen by pausing the run to take a few photos of the lake, but it was probably no more than 30 seconds. And the shots look nice.

Here’s one. The yellow is the lily pads starting to put on their fall colors–yes, already!

Burnaby Lake from the bridge at Deer Lake Brook

Stats:

Run 656
Average pace: 6:14/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 2:23 p.m.
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 31:17
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 23ºC
Humidity: 49%
Wind: light
BPM: 155
Weight: 178.3
Total distance to date: 4890 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 12
Shoes: Brooks Caldera 5 (15 km)

Run 655: Unplanned lake run with bonus embarrassing public moment

Today I did not feel like running, but I headed out, thinking I’d walk to the end of the river trail and at least run back to the entrance (2 km). If I felt more up to it, I’d do a full 5K.

What happened next was a bit weird and pretty much my own fault.

As I walked through Lower Hume Park, I thought, “Hmm, I may have to go to the washroom.” There is a washroom conveniently in Lower Hume Park. I even had a mask with me, something I normally don’t carry when running. But I opted to bypass the washroom because it was more just a feeling (not more than a feeling). This was a bad move.

By the time I got to the river trail a few minutes later, I definitely had to go, curse my easily agitated organs. So I decided to duck up the first of two service roads that leads off the main trail and up to the train tracks. After climbing a short hill, the road bends, then there’s a short straight stretch before it bends again and then exits out to the railroad tracks and environs. I have rarely seen CN vehicles use this side road and can’t recall the last time I saw a person walking it. I had ducked up here before without incident.

As I positioned myself, I looked both ways to insure no one was strolling along to see me do my business. Now, this is an actual road, albeit a narrow gravel one in not-great shape, so if someone did come along, they would pretty much see me.

Which is what happened. Two guys on one bikes (one lower, apparently on a recumbent bike) suddenly rounded the corner, coming from the track area. I quickly pulled up my shorts, even though I was not finished and my bladder was about 10 seconds from exploding. I hopped and jogged back to the main trail, found a large tree just off the trail, and finished there. Why I hadn’t done this to begin with is a very good question. I waited behind the tree, to see if the bikers would go left (exiting the trail) or right. I did not want to have any sort of interaction with them, for obvious reasons.

They went left. Hooray. I waited another minute, then came back onto the trail and looked in their direction–they were near the exit, but their bikes were facing me. Apparently they were coming back. Curses. I decided to just walk to the end of the trail as planned, looking behind me periodically to see if they were following or, worse, following and closing the gap.

I did not see them.

And then I did. They were still far behind, but were clearly on the move. I thought I heard someone let out a loud hoot. One of them? Maybe. I kept walking, but did not see them again after that.

But I wasn’t chancing anything, so I decided to keep going on to Burnaby Lake. I didn’t want to do a full loop, considering I wasn’t really feeling like running at all, so I opted to take the side trails and hit the 2.5 km mark, then turn around and return to my starting destination by the dam to complete the 5K. After I hit the 2.5K mark I paused the run, walked a little farther up to make sure I would definitely hit 5K on my return, then resumed.

My pace was sluggish. My mind was frazzled, and my tank o’ gas felt empty. I actually started decently at 5:33/km, but fell off quickly after that and never regained my pace. But in a way I was just happy that I managed it at all.

And I will remember to always squirrel myself completely away from view if I ever need to go while I’m out in nature. Curse my tiny bladder.

(I also had to go again when I got to the lake. Fortunately, it has a Jiffy John™ right there by the parking lot.)

On a more positive note, I have now matched the number of runs I did in all of 2020 (five), in the space of about two and a half weeks. So that’s nice!

Stats:

Run 655
Average pace: 6:12/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 4:31 p.m.
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 31:09
Weather: Cloudy, a smidgen of late sun
Temp: 22ºC
Humidity: 42%
Wind: light
BPM: 155
Weight: 178.7
Total distance to date: 4885 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 12
Shoes: Brooks Caldera 5 (10 km)

Run 654: New shoes, faster feet

The weather was quite nice for running today–pleasant and cloudy, with a light breeze. I wore new shoes, Brooks Caldera 5s (I previously wore and still have the Caldera 4s). The main difference between them is the 5s have a much more cushioned sole, which is what I wanted as I resumed running. I can go pseudo-minimalist once I confirm my left foot won’t explode or something.

The new shoes were fine. The laces stayed tied, which is always nice, and the toe box, though smaller had enough wiggle room. I did opt for a size 9 instead of my usual 8.5, though.

As for the run, I felt strangely winded after the first km and happened to see it just as it came up on the watch–my pace was a zippy 5:36/km. I could not sustain this, so eased up. The good news is other than feeling especially sloggy midway through, I still managed to ramp up toward the end and finished under the six-minute mark, with a pace of 5:57/km. Not bad for only my fourth run of the year.

When I do my next run (tentatively set for Wednesday) I will equal the number of runs I did in all of 2020.

Overall, I am pleased at how this went, especially given that my faster pace still had a lower BPM. Woo.

Stats:

Run 654
Average pace: 5:57/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Start: 12:57 p.m.
Distance: 5.03 km
Time: 29:57
Weather: Cloudy, some sun
Temp: 16ºC
Humidity: 59%
Wind: light
BPM: 156
Weight: 178
Total distance to date: 4880 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 12
Shoes: Brooks Caldera 5 (5 km)

Run 653: Cooler ‘n faster

I returned to the river trail today for a mid-afternoon run under pleasant conditions. With the temperature a full seven degrees cooler than the last river run, I expected to be faster–and I was! I finished with a pace of 6:02/km, which is actually closer to breaking the six-minute mark than I’d have expected on only my third full run of the year. I went back and checked 2020, and it turns out that In Our First Year of Pandemic I only ran five times, so I’m only short two runs from matching that puny effort.

I started and ended at the same pace–5:49/km–and would have probably come in under six minutes if I had not sagged slightly in the middle. No big deal, though, as I consider myself to still be quite flabby and way off from peak form. My BPM was up a bit, but that matches the extra speed, so I am not ready to go into full Zoidberg “whoop whoop whoop whoop!” panic just yet.

No notable issues were encountered, though I am reminded again of how important it is to use the bathroom before running, as running jostles your bladder and bowels and these are more than just distractions when you gotta go mid-jog.

Stats:

Run 653
Average pace: 6:02/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Start: 2:57 p.m.
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 30:18
Weather: Sun and high cloud
Temp: 20ºC
Humidity: 51%
Wind: light
BPM: 158
Weight: 179.2
Total distance to date: 4875 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 12
Shoes: Brooks Caldera 4 (25 km)

Run 652: Lakeside under the clouds

Today I decided to take advantage of the cooler weather to go for a longer run, at least in terms of total distance–I still kept the run part to 5K.

A few actual sprinkles at the start made me switch at the last minute to a long-sleeved running shirt, but this ultimately proved unnecessary, as the sprinkle ended before the run started and only briefly returned after I was done.

As for the run itself, my pace was slower–as expected–due to the lake trail being a lot more fiddly than the wide, flat expanse that is the river trail, but it was in line with what I was expecting. Around midway through, I almost started developing a stitch in my lower left back, but it ultimately fizzled out before amounting to anything. My feet held up and while my legs may be a bit stiff tomorrow, I emerged otherwise intact. Woo!

It felt good to be back at the lake and the combo of it being a weekday and also a rather gloomy one for mid-August meant there were few people on the trail–and no dogs at all!

Some random notes:

  • A construction crew was shoring up the river bank and I had to navigate between trucks and a running excavator to get past them. This is where making eye contact with the people operating machines that can smush you is very important.
  • The trail on the lake was in generally good shape with no puddles from the showers, and work proceeds on the resurfacing between Piper Spit and Phillips Point. This leaves the area around the athletic fields as the one last major stretch that needs resurfacing. Some original resurfacing is starting to show its age, but is still generally holding up.
  • The Spruce Loop has multiple trees that are leaning very conspicuously over the trail. I suspect the next major wind storm will topple at least one of them.
  • The bridge at Dear Lake Brook has a few steps that feel like they are on the verge of collapse. I’m kind of surprised they haven’t started work on a replacement bridge yet. Maybe next year!
  • I did three walks instead of two (normally one to the lake, one coming back from the lake) because I accidentally ended the second one early. I’d still like to see a confirmation for ending a workout on the Apple Watch, so you can hit the “No, I did that by accident” button.
  • Splits show a pretty typical pattern: Fast(ish) start, slowing by the middle, then picking up toward the end.
  • The spibelt pretty much flopped. It kept drooping, low enough to start bumping into my junk, which is not something you really want while running. I’m not sure if it’s because the iPhone 12 is bigger and heavier than the iPhone 8 I used previously, because the belt is too loose, or because the donut I have on the waist currently is pushing it down. Fortunately, the phone actually sits pretty still in the pocket of my shorts, so I just ran with it tucked away in the left front pocket.

Stats:

Run 652
Average pace: 6:16/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 12:57 p.m.
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 31:30
Weather: Cloudy
Temp: 16ºC
Humidity: 82%
Wind: light
BPM: 154
Weight: 178.2
Total distance to date: 4870 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 12
Shoes: Brooks Caldera 4 (20 km)

Run 651: The first run of 2021 (!)

A little while back, I checked my running stats and discovered that I hadn’t completed a 5K since September 2020. Egad. And I haven’t even been injured. The global pandemic, for all the terrible stuff it has wreaked upon the world, actually gave me more time to run, but the will evaporated.

I vowed to get in another 5K before the first anniversary of my last run came up, and today was that day, woo!

I did my usual walk down the river trail but when I got to the end of Cariboo Place, I stopped the walk and started a 5K run, the first in 342 (!) days.

I knew my pace would be slow–and it was–but surprisingly, it was actually better than that last run in September 2020, though BPM was a little higher, but still in a comfortable range.

I actually felt fine, though had forgotten just how dry your mouth can get when you run in the summer. Apparently doing little 2K runs isn’t enough to fully dry you out, but a 5K is more than plenty. Given how it’s generally getting hotter now, I may have to think about some sort of water bottle again.

My bad foot (the left) behaved. I was starting to get pretty tired by the 4K mark and almost thought of pausing the run when lo! My left shoelace came untied (for the second time), giving me the perfect excuse to stop and catch my breath. I continued on fine after that.

In terms of splits, I was faster than expected for the first km at 5:46/km and stayed under 6:00/m for the second, but began to lose steam after that.I finished stronger, though, so that brief respite to tie my show really seemed to help me tap into my last energy reserves.

Conditions were not great, but could have been worse. At 27C, it was warmer than I’f prefer and it felt humid, but at least the smoke of the last few days had cleared up.

Overall, it felt good just to pull it off. I’m not exactly sure when I will run next, but it will be sooner than 11 months. :P

Stats:

Run 651
Average pace: 6:08/km
Location: Brunette River Trail
Start: 3:45 p.m.
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 30:51
Weather: High cloud, some sun
Temp: 27ºC
Humidity: 43%
Wind: light
BPM: 156
Weight: 177.1
Total distance to date: 4865 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 12
Shoes: Brooks Caldera 4 (15 km)

Run 650: Return to Burnaby Lake

The last time I ran was five days ago. The last time before that was on June 1, which was also my last run at Burnaby Lake. It had been 70 days since my previous run and I was so out of shape I had to pause the run and walk for a minute or two twice before I could finish. My pace was an incredibly slothful 6:28/km.

Today, 96 days after my last run at Burnaby Lake, I returned with new shoes, in better (but not top) shape and…did better than the previous lake run, but worse than the river run, which is to be expected, given the lake trail is much more windy and hilly (even if the hills are modest).

I ended with a pace of 6:12/km, which is slow (but still much faster than the last lake run), and I did it without stopping, though at around the 3.5 km mark I was starting to feel a bit tired. Shortly after the 4 km mark I felt what seemed to be a very small but sharp piece of gravel in my left shoe and it bit into my foot with every step. I paused at the Still Creek bridge, roughly around the 4.5 km mark, emptied the shoe, then finished the run.

It was mostly cloudy, which was nice, and despite higher humidity, the temperature was low enough to keep excessive sweating from getting excessive.

The walk to the lake was slower than my usual river walks and I think I was unconsciously holding back a little, knowing I needed enough fuel for a 5K run, plus the 9 km or so walk after. I arrived at the lake just before noon and there were people everywhere. The first two km the trail was packed–someone was always in my view ahead. The side trails gave me some respite, but even there I passed a couple.

The numbers tapered off a bit once I moved past the entrance near Piper Spit, then picked up a bit again on the Cottonwood Trail. As expected, the resurfacing of the trail is now complete, which means the entire stretch has gone from 10 million exposed tree roots to none. As a runner, this pleases me greatly. I have some concerns about the edges of the trail, as they seem a bit mushy and I suspect we’ll be seeing some notable erosion when regular rain comes in the fall, but it’s still a massive improvement overall.

After finishing the run, I was a bit pokey again on the first km heading back, but soon found enough energy to run on and off the rest of the way, probably ending with a split of 60/40 to run/walk.

The heel emerged intact and as of now, some hours later as I write this, does not feel any worse for the extended outing.

The people on the trails fell into roughly two groups:

  • Those who did their best to go single file or otherwise make room as I passed (pandemic-aware)
  • Those who made no effort at all, except to leave just enough room for me to pass

The latter group was far, far greater in number. Did I mention cases of COVID-19 have been spiking like crazy over the past month?

There was also a bonus threesome who were apparently so caught up in their own world that even when I clearly called, “Behind you!” when I was pretty close, did not react or move in anyway whatsoever.

And of course, multiple people on bikes because rules are for losers. As always, I hope all suffered flat tires midway around the lake.

On the brighter side, I saw turtles again, two of them! Seeing turtles makes me happy. I never see them in the actual turtle nesting area, though.

The only after-effects from the run right now is just being really tired. My body is clearly not used to this level of walking and running yet, but I’m getting there.

Run 650
Average pace: 6:04 km (6:12/km)
Location: Brunette River Trail (Burnaby Lake, CCW)
Start: 12:01 p.m.
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 31:05
Weather: High cloud
Temp: 21ºC
Humidity: 65%
Wind: light
BPM: 151
Weight: 172.6
Total distance to date: 4860 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 8
Shoes: Brooks Caldera 4 (10 km)

Run 649: The third pandemic run

In a way it’s both hard yet easy to believe this is only the third time I’ve been on a run since the pandemic took hold here, which was in mid-March (about five and a half months ago).

At first, the park trails were super-crowded because everything was closed and there was nowhere else to go. I said, “Nope!” to jogging among crowds of potential virus carriers and for awhile I just avoided running outside out of that fear of catching COVID-19 (and to a lesser degree being asymptomatic and spreading it to others).

But as I continued on my daily walks and those walks began morphing into walk/runs I knew I would eventually decide to do an actual run again.

That day was today.

I had a 70 day gap between my previous two runs. This time it was an impressive three months, as my last run was on June 1–92 days ago.

That last run saw my pace drag to a slothful 6:28/km, but while I was slow today as well (the splits reveal that I really ran out of gas on the final km), my time was actually much better, due to all those daily walk/runs. Perhaps the most impressive change was my BPM. Despite three months between runs, it fell from 163 to 151.

6:04/km still ranks as Pretty Slow, though, so I am eager to see that pace improve.

Overall I felt pretty good. I felt a bit of a burn, but it was mild. I took it relatively easy, knowing that this was going to be tougher than the 2 km stretches I’d been doing lately.

Pace-wise I started out fine, then immediately saw a big drop in the second km. The next two saw my pace improve back to where I started before my energy reserves magically floated away. I did not commit to a heroic burst of speed at the end, I just keep going until my watch blissfully informed me it was all over.

The heel was fine. I mean, fine in that I can feel it, but it doesn’t hurt at all to run on. The new Caldera 4 shoes are nice so far. They are lighter than my Cascadia 12’s, yet have more cushioning and so far have done a much better job of keeping debris out.

I’m not sure when I’ll do my next run, but I suspect tomorrow will be a return to the walk/runs, as I have a feeling my legs are going to be a wee bit sore in the morning.

Below I’ve included the previous stats in brackets for comparison. I’ve omitted a few stats that aren’t especially relevant for comparison.

Run 649
Average pace: 6:04 km (6:04/km)
Location: Brunette River Trail (Burnaby Lake, CCW)
Start: 4:49 p.m.
Distance: 5.02 km (5:03 km)
Time: 30:29 (32:33)
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 23ºC
Humidity: 54%
Wind: light
BPM: 151 (163)
Weight: 171.8 pounds (175.1 pounds)
Total distance to date: 4855 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 8
Shoes: Brooks Caldera 4 (5 km)

Run 648: Holy lack of stamina, Batman

Run 648
Average pace: 6:28/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 12:53 pm
Distance: 5.03 km
Time: 32:33
Weather: Clouds and sun
Temp: 19ºC
Humidity: 53%
Wind: light
BPM: 163
Weight: 175.1 pounds
Total distance to date: 4850 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 8
Shoes: Saucony Switchback ISO (210 km)

I would say it’s hard to believe it’s been 70 days since the last time I ran outdoors–March 22, just days after everything started getting locked down in B.C.–but when you look at my stats, it’s actually quite easy to believe, because I was not so much slow as struggling to keep moving over a distance I would in peak condition find trivial to run.

I knew I was in for a challenge when I walked the 4 km to the lake and saw my pace averaged 10:02/km. It would normally be about a full minute faster. And this was just walking.

Undaunted and without madding crowds due to the early afternoon start on a weekday, I made a pit stop at the Jiffy John (no sanitizer–boo, are they trying to give us Covid?) then set off on a five km course counter-clockwise around the lake, setting a steady pace and knowing that the goal was merely to finish.

And finish I did, though at several points it felt like the run was going to finish me instead.

You can see graphically what happened in this map of the run (Apple, please make these maps available on iPads and the web, thanks, and change them back to being light instead of dark. Dark is weird and ugly. Or at least make it a toggle):

The GPS did not fail twice, but my body did!

As you can see, I started out slow and occasionally–such as when the ground slopped downward–got a little faster before going slow again. Partway into the Piper Mill Trail my lungs were ablaze and I had to do something to keep them from scorching from the inside out, so I paused the run, then resumed once my breathing and heartrate settled a bit–before I reached the end of the Piper Mill Trail, at least.

I puttered along until I got about two-thirds of the way down the Cottonwood Trail. Again, I struggled to keep going and paused for a minute before resuming, after which I was abler to keep going through to the end.

My total time was a perhaps worst-ever 32:33, with the average overall pace being 6:28/km. I’m certain that is my slowest average pace ever. It certainly felt like it.

But I did it and while I may be sore as all get-out tomorrow, right now I don’t feel too bad. My BPM was 163, which is actually lower than my previous run, but this was likely due to the fact that my pace was so incredibly sluggish.

I did refill the tank to run a bit on the way back, though, so I have some dim hope that things will improve if I keep getting out there.

The weather was decent–pleasant, but not hot, partial sun and a light breeze. There weren’t a lot of people out, and the majority of those that were made little to no effort at physical distancing, except where it was impossible to avoid, such as on the narrow boardwalks. A surprising number of joggers were out and even more surprising, I passed one of them somehow. They must have been in casual running mode.

Despite some recent heavy rain a few days earlier (which was unusual compared to the weather trends we’ve seen this spring), the trail was in good shape, so puddle jumping was not needed, with one major exception.

This section of trail was completely submerged for some reason. Luckily, it’s right off the fields and you can actually detour around it by heading up the access road and hooking left at the first turn-off to rejoin the main loop.

A river runs through it…but shouldn’t.

Overall, while I am a bit shocked at just how slow I was, I can’t say that I was surprised at being slow and finding the run a bit of a struggle. Seventy days is a long time between runs. I will try not to go another seventy days before the next one.

Run 647: The first pandemic run

Run 647
Average pace: 5:48/km
Location: Brunette River
Start: 1:42 pm
Distance: 5.03 km
Time: 29:13
Weather: Cloudy
Temp: 12ºC
Humidity: 55%
Wind: nil to light
BPM: 166
Weight: 171.5 pounds
Total distance to date: 4845 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 8
Shoes: Saucony Switchback ISO (205 km)

Technically today was not my first run since the global pandemic started, but it was the first since, to frame it colorfully, shit got real, with lots of closures and a huge emphasis on “social distancing”, which I will get to in a bit.

First, this was my first run in three weeks. I’m not sure how I managed to go another three weeks without doing an outdoor run. I swear I’m not lazy. Today I headed out in mild conditions wearing my light long-sleeve shirt and would have been fine in a regular t-shirt, as it was not cool in any way (in all senses of the word).

I wasn’t sure if I was going to run at the lake or the river, so I walked to the end of the river trail to give me more time to decide. Given how many people were about, I chose the river trail, as it would be easier to keep some separation between myself and potential plague carriers.

This turned out to be surprisingly difficult, despite the river trail actually being a gravel service road that is wide enough to (barely) accommodate two vehicles passing by each other. Why? Because people are dumb or indifferent. Observe below.

Good people: Walking close to each other, staying on one side of the trail. Lots of room to pass by without getting close.

Bad people: Spreading themselves as far across the trail as possible, making it impossible to keep the recommended safe distance away, which is six feet or two meters, depending on how metric you are. For example, two friends (?) were walking down the trail, but they were walking down the middle and also had some strangely large gap between each other, effectively providing three narrow channels for me to choose from. This would be like if every chalice at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was poison. You can’t help but to choose poorly.

There was another pair that did the opposite, which creates nearly the same issue. One was walking a dog (all dogs were leashed today, which was nice, if odd, to see). One walked on the left side of the trail, the other on the right, with a gap between them that again left me insufficient space to squeeze through as per social distancing recommendations. Why would you even walk like this? It would be like walking on opposite sidewalks down the street. Do they secretly hate each other? Does one of them have dog allergies? These two ended up making me alter my run.

Oh yes, the run. It was surprisingly stressful because I did not want to have to keep carefully dodging around people who could potentially be carrying COVID-19, I just wanted to run. I almost felt like stopping early to I could just get out of there. After going between the two–let’s call them “space” people–I realized that given where they were, I would have to pass between them at least two more times to complete my run. I opted to turn around early before getting to them the second time and when I got back to the entrance I was at about 4.5 km done. I ran off the trail and onto the sidewalk on North Road, figuring I’d do the last 500m by running into and through Lower Hume Park. It was then that I saw directly on the sidewalk a huge group of people. I mean, this is something I never see. It’s like they specifically appeared to induce anxiety in me. I waited a few moments for a gap in traffic, then crossed over to the empty sidewalk on the other side.

I didn’t hit 5K as soon as I would have liked, so had to turn out onto the field and finished as I ran across the baseball diamond. It felt a little weird.

The actual run itself was fine, especially given the three weeks away. My pace was 5:48/km, better than expected (though as always the river trail is more forgiving than the lake), though my BPM ticked up a bit to 166, though it’s possible my general fretting may have contributed there. I was pretty tense the whole way, only relaxing a bit during those rare moments when no one else was in sight.

I actually wished it had been raining so these people would have stayed home to watch Contagion on Netflix.

I’m not sure when I’ll run outside again. Maybe when the weather is miserable, which will ironically make me happier.