Run 607: A bear, cramps, bikes and a sore foot

Run 607
Average pace: 6:33/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 12:42 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 32:59
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 21ºC
Humidity: 52%
Wind: light
BPM: 166
Weight: 166.9 pounds
Total distance to date: 4615 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8

This run was kind of awful, but not entirely unexpectedly so.

My last run was on April 20, 36 days ago. The main reason for the long gap was The World’s Worst Cold, which visited me over three weeks ago and continues to linger on with the occasional cough and stuff clearly still in my lungs. Perhaps I had an actual lung infection and instead of getting it treated with antibiotics, I opted for the old-fashioned cure of a long, painful recovery.

In any case, the weather was dandy today and I felt it was time to get back out there.

On the plus side, I was able to start the initial walk using Siri on the Apple Watch. Of late it usually just fails, no matter what I ask, but today Siri was feeling cooperative. On the negative side,. the pace of my first km walking was over 10 minutes. This is what the imaginary scientists I pay call “really slow.” The pace did pick up, but overall it was clear I was not yet 100%–even just walking. This did not seem to bode well.

The first surprise came as I approached the bridge on the Brunette River trail. A group of cyclists had just gone past me on the left, then came to a stop short of the bridge. There was something in their body language that seemed off. I caught up and saw why they had stopped.

There was a black bear walking down the trail toward them (and me, and another jogger who came up from behind).

A cyclist wonders how tasty the black bear would find him.

Here’s a zoomed-in shot in case the bear does not seem sufficiently bear-like in the above shot:

Woods hard, trails easy.

Some of the cyclists made noise. I wanted to shout out terrible puns like, “This situation is unbearable!” or “Don’t bear with us!” We waited to see what the bear would do, but it kept slowly advancing, seemingly oblivious of us. It went up a side trail before the bridge, but returned shortly, so we continued to move back, keeping us out of snacking range. The bear crossed the bridge, then headed up another side trail. This time there was a pregnant pause and the jogger carefully crept forward on the left to see if the bear was coming back.

It seemed the bear had found something sufficiently interesting on the side trail–perhaps an unleashed dog–and was out of sight. The cyclists pedaled and the jogger and I ran, me keeping an eye behind and to the side, but the bear was not to be seen again.

This seemed like a not-so-good omen for the run and just as I entered Burnaby Lake Regional Park, my left foot began to hurt in the way it would hurt in the pre-orthotic days. I have no idea why this happened out of the blue, but before ditching the idea of running, I went to the loo and on the way back to the starting position, I recalled how it was often easier to run than to walk when the foot got like this, so I started my run.

The run was hard. Not only was I shaking off 36 days of rust, I was clearly operating at less than 100% capacity, because even the opening km was poop, with a pace of 6:36/km. For three of the next four km the pace would only vary five seconds, between 6:32 and 6:37. Somehow in the fourth km I miraculously found some kind of small energy reserve that let me push to a fast-for-this run pace of 6:25/km, before slowing down again for the final stretch.

The sore foot was no doubt a factor, though once running it was not terrible or anything, more a background annoyance. But the lack of energy was palpable. I did not get a second wind. I didn’t get a first wind. Or any wind. I slogged.

I also did something I’ve rarely ever done–twice I paused the run and walked a bit to recover stamina and get my heart rate down, totaling about half a km overall. If I had kept the run timer going, my pace would likely have been a good ten seconds or so slower.

Once I mercifully finished the run, I just wanted to get out and back home. And then I started feeling cramps in my abdomen. Not the kind you get from running too hard (not an issue today), but more like something not agreeing with you, though I had eaten nothing out of the ordinary before heading out. This cramping persisted for much of the walk out from the lake before finally easing up. By then I was so weary it made little difference.

Due to it being a sunny Sunday, the trail was crowded. At one point a bottleneck forced me to stop to let other joggers and walkers pass. I didn’t mind too much because it allowed me to restore a tiny bit of energy. It was so busy that when I stopped at a bench along the second boardwalk to dump the gravel out of my shoes, three joggers passed by from both directions. That may not sound like a lot, but trust me, it is. It only took me maybe 30 seconds to clean my shoes.

Also I’m getting new shoes. They are great gravel scoopers, but I’d like something more comfy and less prone to scooping every jagged little rock it can find and depositing it under my foot.

One of the putt-putt cars went by me post-run and I felt the driver was going a tad faster than needed, given the little room I had on the side. But a minute or so later a family of three rode by on their bikes and the thought of them catching up to the putt-putt car and being told to get off their bikes, at minimum, gladdened my heart.

Just as I was leaving the park, a pair of cyclists were studying the map and somehow reaching the conclusion that they had to go around the lake despite a very large No Cycling sign below the map. I stepped over and confirmed no cycling at the lake and that park officials were out and would likely warn them at best to dismount. I also confirmed the contradiction of the Central Valley Greenway name, as most of it is along blacktop, and directed them to the bicycle lane on Government Street. I left, but as I looked back, I could see them heading off in the direction I’d pointed. Yay nice cyclists.

Overall, then, this run was not great. Lots of complications, the potential to be mauled by a bear, and no energy at all. I have not decided when I will run next, but waiting until next weekend is not without its appeal. This was also the first run in a long time when I wished I had a running watch with more detailed stats on things like blood oxygen saturation, so I could see how off I was with real data to back up how I felt. Somehow it might make me feel a little better.

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