Run 615: Bicycles and sprinkles

Run 615
Average pace: 5:42/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Start: 6:20 pm
Distance: 5.04 km
Time: 28:49
Weather: Cloudy with sprinkles
Temp: 24ºC
Humidity: 51%
Wind: light
BPM: 159
Weight: 167.6 pounds
Total distance to date: 4655 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8
Shoes: Saucony Switchback ISO (10 km)

The sprinkles were the rain kind, not the fun kind you put on ice cream. But it didn’t amount to much.

I was bad/lazy on the weekend. After skipping running on Saturday due to sleeping in and other commitments, I vowed to run on Sunday, which was commitment-free. Come Sunday and it rained. Normally I don’t mind, but even though it was a light rain, it was steady, meaning I’d be soaked within minutes of stepping outside and remain soaked for almost three hours after.

The prospect had minimal appeal. By minimal, I mean none.

So I waited for a break in the weather, but each break seemed to only be minutes long. In the end I frittered away the afternoon before the guilt finally got to me. Around 6 o’clock I headed out and did a near-5K walk. It didn’t rain.

All if this means I went four days without running. I went into tonight’s run expecting to be slower, but was unsure how much. Was the last run a fluke? Would the new shoes lead me to a more pedestrian pace on the second time out?

As it turns out, I was slower, but my pace was only off by five seconds–5:43/km vs. 5:38/km. This is within the usual variance from one run to the next. My BPM was up slightly, but still below 160 at 159. Other than that, I had no issues at all. The stitch from the last run stayed away this time and no other problems emerged.

Bicycles? Yes! For some reason there were hordes of cyclists, but they’re allowed on the river trail and it’s flat and wide, so it was more a curiosity than anything.

I also got stopped just moments after starting the run by a cyclist. He said he was new in the area and all the BEARS WILL EAT YOU signs apparently freaked him out. He wanted to know if the area was infested with bears and perhaps demons or other deadly beasts. I told him in eight years I’d seen two bears. He asked me how to act if you see one. I explained, even though the signs he mentioned also explain this quite clearly. He kept going on, then it started to sprinkle. He said he was glad he wore a jacket (it was actually muggy and pretty warm at 24ºC) and the thought of getting wet seemed to motivate him to finally leave.

I also mentioned seeing coyotes and bobcats in the area, but never mentioned the python. He’ll probably never come back.

The new shoes performed admirably again. I am delighted at how easy they are to pop on and off, and how simple it is to “lace” them and never worry about the laces coming untied.

Overall, this was another solid run, proving the last was no fluke. I should get one more at the lake before going away on vacation for a week, so it will be interesting to see how the shoes hold up under slightly trickier conditions.

Run 614: New shoes, apparently with turbo boost

Run 614
Average pace: 5:38/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Start: 6:26 pm
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 28:18
Weather: Cloudy
Temp: 20ºC
Humidity: 63%
Wind: light
BPM: 157
Weight: 169.1 pounds
Total distance to date: 4650 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8
Shoes: Saucony Switchback ISO (5 km)

Yesterday I bought a new pair of trail runners, my first purchase in a long while. Woo, new shoes. Specifically I got the Saucony Switchback ISOs, which come with a wacky lacing system that doesn’t require actually tying the laces, as you use an attachment to wind the tension of the wire-like lace instead. It seems a bit gimmicky, but also makes sense, too. Once the tension is set, the lace is locked until you actually pop the release mechanism, something that would be extremely difficult to do accidentally.

Still, you never know what new shoes are going to be like, and my last two runs, one at the lake and one at the river, have both been on the slower side.

I put on the shoes and delighted in how lightweight they are. The feel is a bit loose, unlike the Cascadia shoes, which fit snug enough to leave almost no wiggle room. In fact, the Switchbacks are so light in terms of weight and material that they reminded me of my New Balance MT100 minimalist shoes from way back when.

One of the best things I can say about them is how shortly after the run I stopped thinking about them and thought of other things.

The weather was mild and cloudy, though it was conspicuously more humid, which meant sweating. Still, even though I pushed a bit at times, I never felt like I was gasping for breath. I was working, but it felt controlled.

I did have one complication near the end, a stitch in my lower left side. It lasted maybe 300 meters or so and I basically ignored it, willing it to go away. And it did, so I clearly demonstrated my superiority over stitches. At least for today.

What surprised me the most about the run was the sheer speed. My walk to the river trail was sluggish, so I certainly didn’t feel primed for a fast pace, yet I ended with a pace of 5:38/km, a full 33 seconds better than Monday’s run at the lake and 24 seconds better than my previous river run. To put this in context, I finished the run almost three minutes earlier than on Monday. My BPM was also lower at 157.

The workout app tracks cadence and with the new shoes it was 172 SPM, which is in range of my usual pace. I suspect that this will not change much with the new shoes. Maybe if I also got new legs…

Overall, this was a surprising and pleasant result. 5:38/km is far better than my usual runs of late, so it’s possible it was a fluke, but maybe it’s the start of a trend. I’ll have a better idea on Saturday when I do my next run at the lake.

Note that since I have new shoes, I am tracking how much I’ve run in them, as I usually just wait until the shoes fall apart to replace them, which is a bit sub-optimal.

I am a big fat liar

I did not do a writing prompt as promised. I am bad. But I did read a bunch more of the prompts, so that’s progress of a sort. Let me amend my original goal to “I will do a prompt in the next few days and then every day after for a total of two weeks.”

That seems reasonable. I think I can do it. I just need to focus. Focus focus focus. Focus. And not be a liar.

Is 5,000 writing prompts enough?

I’m about to find out. I just picked up the book 5,000 Writing Prompts (Goodreads link) by Bryn Donovan, in an attempt to grease the wheels or whatever metaphor you prefer to get my writing rolling/moving/something other than very still and quiet again.

The book is divided into convenient sections and so far I like the little tidbits she adds to a lot of the prompts, noting stories that have used the same ideas, which are especially popular (and why) and more.

She suggests an exercise to pick a random prompt every day and spend 15 minutes writing something based on it, then repeating this for two weeks, to better build or rebuild the writing habit.

I’m going to try this starting today because why not? Because I’m reading the ebook version, I’m going to go with a high-tech solution for randomly picking a prompt, since they are numbered, by using a random number generator. It’s almost like having the internet write the story for me, or something.

Anyway, the first result will be ready later today, or else I’m a big fat liar.

Run 613: Warmer, slower and sort of crowded (eh)

Run 613
Average pace: 6:11/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 11:06 am
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 31:05
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 22-24ºC
Humidity: 49%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 162
Weight: 166.9 pounds
Total distance to date: 4645 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8

I only have myself to blame.

I was going to run Saturday morning but got up a bit later than intended and started doing chores. Eventually I decided to run on Sunday instead. Easy peasy.

But I had arranged to meet Nic at 1 p.m. Sunday so my schedule would be tight. And I slept in a little later than intended again. Whoopsie. I could do a shorter run at the river, but it seemed a waste on the weekend, so I further resolved to run today, which is the stat holiday known as Canada Day.

Stat holidays tend to be quite busy at the lake, as I’ve noted in the past. And I didn’t get out until a good hour later than I’d planned, putting me square into late morning.

It could have been worse. The initial part of the run was not bad in terms of crowds but by the time I got to the Cottonwood Trail at the 3K mark it became fairly bonkers, with lots of people in both directions, including a large walking group doing that thing all walking groups do–spread out over the entire trail, making it impassable. As I approached them, I simply chose openings where I could to duck through, then ran off the trail where it was safe. Their leader (?) shouted something to them as I approached (in Japanese, I think) but they didn’t seem to respond. For all I know, he may have been saying, “Who wants my leftover liver-flavored chips?”

After that the crowds pretty much cleared up, so it was an odd concentration.

Yesterday Nic and I traversed the seawall and I ended up with 33,553 steps on that day. This is a lot. I wondered if it might affect my run, along with the slightly-longer-than-average three days off. It did!

I started out slower, but remained fairly consistent. It’s like I just didn’t have enough gas to get up to full speed, finishing with a pace of 6:11/km. On the plus side, there were no issues and I literally did not think about my knees at all. Yay!

The splits show how consistent I was:


At least I had a semi-peppy finish. I suspect the hotter temperature also had an effect. I started sweating early on and kept on the whole way. This may also be why my BPM was up, though still quite comfortable at 162.

The BPM chart is interesting. The first half of the run I was around 168, then the second half it dropped down to produce the 162 average. I worked a lot harder the first half and appeared to gain some form on the back half.

Also, the dam is undergoing a three month construction project. For now it remains accessible, though they’ve closed off the north stairs and put in some temporary ones, which I used at the start of the run. They are wooden, which actually makes them nicer than the steel stairs I’d normally use.

While I would have preferred a better overall pace, I can’t be too bummed at this run, given the overall balance of positives vs. negatives. Due to the shorter work week, I’ll probably run next on Thursday to get back on schedule.

Songs that got stuck in my head today

In no order:

  • “Puppy Love” by Donny Osmond. This evolved from a conversation about Barry Manilow coming out in his 70s. The song is kind of creepy in retrospect, and could easily be captured in video as such just by framing the vocalist in specific ways, changing nothing else about the song.
  • “Jesus Christ Superstar.” I have no explanation for this.
  • “Echo Beach” by Martha and the Muffins. Probably because I walked by a lot of beaches today. I can remember about ten words from the song, but fully remember the tune.
  • “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by The Beach Boys. After describing the stellar quality of the film stock used to record a documentary about making the song back in 1966. How I came to describe the footage to begin with evolved from the observation of how pictures from digital cameras from only ten years ago look pretty bad today. Also, I had seen clips from the documentary this morning on YouTube so it was fresh in my mind. Bonus observation: The music and vocals on this song are pretty incredible for what would seem to be a simple pop tune.

This concludes my random sampling of music running through my head, and also concludes my posts for the month of June.

See you tomorrow on The Blog Hardly Anyone Knows Even Exists.

I stared at myself while eating gelato today

At the conclusion of our afternoon of walking a whole lot, Nic became quietly obsessed with having some gelato for dessert. After fruitlessly searching along Davie Street, he turned to technology (Google) to save us and we made our way to a place near Robson and Bute. They have a row of seats along a counter and on the wall in front of the counter is a large mirror. This means you get to stare at yourself while eating your gelato. I found it mildly unnerving. Then I took a picture of myself in the mirror, with my eyebrows slightly raised, because this is apparently a thing I do nearly every time I take a picture of myself. I don’t know why.

It’s gelato, not poo, I swear.

The perspective is kind of weird in the shot, because my right hand looks to be about the same size as my head, which it is not.Also, I am not a goth despite all the black I’m wearing. Not to my knowledge, anyway (I do own three albums by The Cure.)

Photo of the day, June 30, 2019

Another photo from the walk around the Stanley Park seawall today, this is a shot of trees and ex-trees along the cliffs above the seawall.