Run 486: A mild improvement

Run 486
Average pace: 5:36/km
Location: Brunette River trail
Distance: 5.05 km
Time: 28:21
Weather: Cloudy
Temp: 12ºC
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 164
Stride: n/a
Weight: 166 pounds
Total distance to date: 3820 km
Devices/apps: Apple Watch, iPhone

I switched back to the Brunette River trail for the first midweek run and conditions were kind of blah. It was 12ºC but rain threatened so I wore a long-sleeved shirt. In the end, it didn’t rain so I would have been fine in a regular t-shirt but I wasn’t uncomfortable at all, so no harm done.

I modified my strategy for avoiding the big zig-zag at the end to reach 5 km (the end-to-end distance on the river trail is about 1.9 km, so to reach five km total I would normally go two full lengths then run back and forth over the last stretch to get that last 1+ km in). Today I spent an extra 10 minutes walking up to about the 1 km mark. I started there and just did two full lengths after, hit 5K and it was good.

The run went better than expected. I could feel a bit of a burn for the first stretch but never pushed so hard that I cramped up. Even so, I got a bit of a second wind partway though, something that hasn’t happened recently. I finished with an average pace of 5:36/km, my best effort so far this year and handily better than the 5:51/km slog of my previous run at Burnaby Lake.

The extra bonus: no bugs!

Overall I am pleased by today’s effort. The right heel did not present any issue during the run, though it is a slight bit tender tonight.

A shorter recovery (from embarrassment) run

Run 350
Average pace: 5:17/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Ran Spruce and Conifer Loops and Piper Mill Trail
Distance: 5.04 km
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 23-20ºC
Wind: light
Calories burned: 373
Total distance to date: 2942

Tonight the bar was set low: run only 5K, beat my horrible pace of 5:37/km of the previous run. Given that I was only running half as far and had yet to turn in any 5K even close to being as awful as 5:37, the odds were in my favor.

Fortunately nothing conspired to prevent the gimme of a better run. My pace was slow for a 5K at 5:17/km but a whopping 20 seconds better than my previous outing. The overall pace was faster than the first km of my last run (5:17 vs. 5:18). I was even trending toward my fastest km on the last one. The only downside was a bit of a sag between the 3 and 4K mark. The run was very consistent otherwise.

My stomach threatened to cramp about halfway through but never quite got there and with the shorter distance my left foot and other assorted body parts all behaved.

As a bonus, the low sun meant lots of shade and cooler temperatures. I sweated more from the effort than from the heat.

Overall, an encouraging effort after Black Sunday. Now I need to start getting the times down again.

The warmer and slower run

Average pace: 5:12/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Distance: 5.06 km
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 14-17ºC
Wind: light
Calories burned: 402
Total distance to date: 2551 km

Today the temperature climbed to a nigh-freakishly high 19ºC. Since I headed out late morning for the run it ranged from 14-17ºC. This is far from being too hot for running, it just feels weird for mid-April.

I also decided to finally wear a proper t-shirt. Wearing the long-sleeved one would have been a nice trip to sweat city, so I don’t regret that.

Yesterday I did one of those power walk thingers where I do my run route but walk it instead. After completing the route I then walked to Lougheed Town Centre, some 17 km or total in all. It took about 2 hours and 40 minutes and I definitely felt it by the end. I figured this might impact my run today.

Another warning sign was being slightly up in weight this morning–usually a sign I’m packing water and water tends to make me heavier and slower.

And I was. The good news is the pace of 5:12/km still ties my second-best of the year. The bad news…well, there isn’t any, really, other than the disappointment of not meeting my last zippier pace.

The first km started out about the same but I’d already dropped two seconds by the end of the second km. The last km also saw me starting from a slower point to the typical faster finish. I nearly felt a stitch at one point and may have held back a little to ward it off.

The heels of my Nike runners are starting to noticeably wear so I’m contemplating new trail runners or busting out my New Balance MT110s again. I’ve been leery about using minimalist shoes since the Achilles tendon injury but I figure once for testing may not hurt (much).

Annoyance of the run: half a dozen on bikes, including one couple with a baby seat (equipped with functioning baby) who were riding fairly fast. Idiots.

Unexpected delight of the run: The Running Room was having some kind of event (I had no idea and saw no signage before starting out). As it turns out, the end of their circuit happened to be the Still Creek bridge–the exact spot I am currently ending my runs. There was a big electronic board showing times (I didn’t pay much attention to it) and a bunch of people gathered around, including one who looked like he might be the timekeeper. He and the others cheered enthusiastically as I crossed the apparent finish line. That’s the first time I’ve had anyone cheering me at the end of the run. It was weird but nice.

The eye of the storm run

Average pace: 5:17/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Ran Spruce and Conifer Loops and Piper Mill Trail
Distance: 5.03 km
Weather: Cloudy, light showers
Temp: 10-8ºC
Wind: strong
Calories burned: 398
Total distance to date: 2521 km

The wind was blowing up to 25k/hour so I chose to head out wearing my running jacket. My logic was that I’d be fine in a long-sleeve t-shirt if it was windy or if it rained but not both. And the sky looked like it was preparing to stir up a nice brew of wind and rain.

As it turned out, I escaped the rain until after the run ended. At that point it showed on and off for the walk back. The wind blew fairly consistently, though, so I didn’t particularly regret the extra cover the jacket provided.

About halfway through the run I developed a stitch in my gut and it was just strong enough to inhibit my pace. I didn’t want to end up slower than the prior run (falling back is rather discouraging early on when you’re trying to build on each run) and even goosed it a little at the end. I was rewarded by shaving off an entire second off my previous run, coming in at 5:17/km. Sure it’s small enough to be a rounding error, but I’ll take it.

The trail was replete with many a puddle that required dodging and one alongside the athletic field that was so huge I opted to take the field around it–until I discovered the field was a quicksand-like sodden mess. I managed to pick my way along the muddy left edge of the monster puddle.

I also encountered a man with his young boy riding their bikes. I said nothing, as there seems little point when they’ve already reached a place where they’d have already passed at least three “no bikes allowed” signs. I guess it was good they were not racing along.

Speaking of racing along, a pair of women were walking along with both of their dogs off-leash. No surprise here, but the one dog, a collie, was hyperactive and racing off the trail, into a nearby stream, under a small footbridge, back onto the trail and then was off again into the stream. There are several signs along the trail (the parks people really like signs) noting that the streams are fish habitats and dogs are to be kept out. Were there fish eggs in this stream the dog would have shredded them into oblivion. Again I said nothing. It’s not like these people don’t know, they simply don’t care. The best I can do is hope karma deals with them appropriately.

Too bad I don’t believe in karma. 😛

Back to the actual jogging–this marked the first time in months that I completed three runs in the space of a week. Weird! The left shin felt a tony bit tender afterward but other than that the feet and legs are fine and the overall level of post-run stiffness has diminished noticeably.

My next run will probably be a 5K on the river trail so I won’t have as direct a comparison to these last three runs, but it will still be interesting to see how it goes. Excelsior!

A train-ing run

Average pace: 5:18/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Ran Spruce and Conifer Loops and Piper Mill Trail
Distance: 5.04 km
Weather: Cloudy, light showers
Temp: 9-10ºC
Wind: light to nil
Calories burned: 399
Total distance to date: 2516 km

The sky was partly clear when I headed out today but it proved to be all tricksy and deceptive, as it quickly clouded over as I headed to Burnaby Lake. The showers held off for the actual run, producing only a very light drizzle toward the end.

After the run it rained for the next 5K and stopped after I exited Burnaby Lake Park. It was a very localized shower, apparently.

The run felt a little harder compared to Sunday and I hopefully took this to mean I was picking up the pace, though for the first half I couldn’t tell. It turned out I was right as I shaved a full six seconds off the previous run, coming in at 5:18/km. Still slow as heck but not bad for a second run after a long layoff.

In other good news the feet felt more comfortable, and the muscles generally did not feel as sore during or after the run.

My next run will either be Friday or Saturday. It looks to be wet but I think I’m past the newbie stage now where bad weather is a convenient excuse to stay home and eat my weight in potato chips.

The title for this post comes from the fact that a train rolled past me while I was jogging along the Cottonwood Trail stretch. I should mention that it was on the track that parallels the trail, not actually on the trail with me. Why do I find trains so cool? I don’t know. But I do.

Cramps! Bees! Baseball! A run!

21ºC and high cloud for tonight’s run. For a change of pace, there was virtually no wind.

A baseball game was in progress at the eastern diamond and I was reminded yet again at what a great motivator baseball is for running. This particular set of teams were applying what you call serious wood to the ball, cracking them out regularly at high velocity and with an alarming tendency to head straight toward the northern stretch of the path I run on. I tried to pick up the pace each time I neared so I’d clear the line of fire before the next pitch was released. One ball went into a tree, which is as you might guess is not part of the playing field. Another ball got knocked into the street. I consider myself lucky to have escaped without a goose egg on the noggin.

I had a good start but tragedy struck between the 2 and 3 km mark. Okay, not really tragedy, more like a cramp in my abdomen. I ate a little more than an hour before running and it’s the only thing I can think of to explain it. Whatever the cause, the cramp was enough to put a serious dent in my pace. I almost packed it in but usually a cramp eases up after a few km, so I continued on. This particular cramp made itself comfy, though, and persisted through the remainder of the run. Stupid cramp.

As a result, my pace was a very sluggish 5:39, a whopping 12 seconds off my last run, but I at least got the full 10 km in. And Tiger Woods didn’t congratulate me for the 100th time for completing another 5,000 miles, so there’s that, too.

The final insult came at the end when two bees stubbornly kept flying around the fountain. I was parched but they would not leave. I ran the fountain spigot and splashed water. They buzzed about a bit then settled back, one of them perching on top of the actual spigot itself. A nearby pail was half-full of water for thirsty dogs. I proceeded to take the bucket and dump it directly on top of the fountain. This persuaded the bees to leave long enough for me to get a few sting-free gulps of water.

The chart nicely illustrates where the cramp struck. Note how the pace in the 3rd and 4th km shoots up by a ridiculous 6 and 5 seconds. That pretty much sealed the run right there. By the end my pace had moved closer to what it would normally be, meaning the cramp had either lessened or enough endorphins kicked in for me to mostly ignore it.

Distance July 21st July 17th July 13th July 11th July 5th
1 km 5:05 5:06 5:10 5:15 5:10
2 km 5:08 5:09 5:14 5:20 5:13
3 km 5:14 5:12 5:18 5:24 5:14
4 km 5:19 5:14 5:21 5:27 5:18
5 km 5:24 5:17 5:23 5:29 5:21
6 km 5:28 5:20 5:25 5:31 5:24
7 km 5:32 5:22 5:26 5:33 5:27
8 km 5:36 5:24 5:29 5:35 5:30
9 km 5:39 5:26 5:30 5:36 5:33
10 km 5:40 5:27 5:30 5:37 5:34