Run 643: Harvest of destruction (Also: a slow return)

Run 643
Average pace: 6:02/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 11:35 am
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 30:17
Weather: Sunny, some cloud
Temp: 9ºC
Humidity: 77%
Wind: light
BPM: 175 (?)
Weight: 172 pounds
Total distance to date: 4825 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 5, iPhone 8
Shoes: Saucony Switchback ISO (185 km)

Exactly three weeks and two pulled muscles later (one lower back, one upper thigh) I returned for only my second run of November. I was expecting to be slow, generally lack stamina, and so planned on only doing a 5K.

It was a good call.

I started out slow (6:10 on the fist km), got even slower (6:19 on the second) before finding some energy reserves on the third km, where I got my best results, a relatively zippy 5:41/km. After that it was downhill again, with the final km almost exactly mirroring the first.

Other than lacking energy I felt fine–no cramps or other issues. The pulled muscle in my leg didn’t hurt at all while running and seems fine now. I just had no gas in the tank.

Strangely, although the workout app claims an average BPM of 175 (which is high and plausible after three weeks of slothfulness), there is no heart rate data otherwise, just this message:

The heart rate for the walks before and after the run recorded without issue, so I’m not sure why it didn’t work for the run. Maybe I was running so slow it got confused and shut off.

The conditions were okay. It was clear, but felt colder than the 9ºC would indicate. It had rained earlier, so there was some piddle jumping, but the only really bad spot was that one section by the field that always floods. It was flooded and after trying to skirt around it, I gave up and just plunged through. My feet are almost dry now.

The harvest of destruction came as I approached the Cottonwood Trail just past the 3K mark. For reasons unknown, almost every tree between the trail and the train tracks had been cut down. It looked like a clearcut. I expected to see protesters locking arms together. A lot of bramble had been cleared out, too, but sloppily enough that the trail was covered in twigs and other detritus. Further, recent rains had hit this part of the trail especially hard, carving lines and further exposing tree roots in what is already the tree root-iest part of the trail. It’s the worst I’ve seen it in eight years of running here. Hopefully Cottonwood is next on the list for resurfacing, as it’s clearly overdue.

Crowd-wise it was not as bad as expected, though a gaggle of photographers completely and utterly blocked the path on the Piper Mill Trail. I actually had to stop and wait for them to part to get through. Why do people completely block the trail? Do they think no one else will ever use it except them? Perhaps.

Speaking of using the trail, I saw a pair of cyclists on the way in carefully studying the map, the one that clearly states NO CYCLING in multiple spots, and which includes directions to alternate routes. I confirmed that bikes were not allowed and directed them to the alternate route. They seemed displeased and I can’t blame them, because a bike lane on a road is not as nice as a trail around a lake, but they actually turned around and left, so kudos to them.

Overall this run went about as expected. I will cling to that third km where I briefly hit my stride as an example of how I can still run decently, as long as I, you know, actually go out and run.

And now I am off to dry my feet.

Run 630: Slower and drier

Run 630
Average pace: 5:46/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 1:35 pm
Distance: 5.02 km
Time: 28:59
Weather: Sun, high cloud
Temp: 23ºC
Humidity: 57%
Wind: light
BPM: 161
Weight: 162.5 pounds
Total distance to date: 4730 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8
Shoes: Saucony Switchback ISO (85 km)

Today’s run was consistent and consistently slower, with only an 8-second gap between the fastest and slowest km, and an overall pace of 5:46/km, which one of my slowest recent runs. It was not overly hot today, but thee sun was out during the run and it was quite humid, leading to a bit of a dry mouth and a general sluggishness.

There were no other problems, but this was the first run since my ill-advised “let’s run in the afternoon when it’s 30c” where I was happy to have it over.

I wasn’t sure I was going to run today because I was up quite late last night and made up for it by getting up rather late this morning, well past the time I’d normally already be out running. I mulled it over and finally went out just before 1 p.m., which may have played a role in the conditions I encountered.

Ironically, the high cloud obscured the sun for almost the entirety of my post-run walk back home. There were also a fair number of people out, perhaps moreso than if I’d run earlier.

For the first time in awhile, I opted to go counter-clockwise, thinking the side trails might finally be finished. The entrance to the Spruce Loop made it look done, but the Trail Closed sign was still up, so I dutifully avoided it and stuck to the main trail. As I neared the entrance to the Conifer Loop trail, I watched several people emerge from it–and it had no Trail Closed sign. So now I think the workers just forgot to remove the other sign.

Next time I’ll be a rebel and take the side trails. I will (not) miss my old friend, the tree root I tripped over, which is presumably buried under the fresh gravel.

In the end, not a great run, but I’m glad I went out and kept tomorrow open for other stuff.

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:

6:10
6:10
6:15
6:12
6:07

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.

Run 608: Back on track(ish)

Run 608
Average pace: 6:23/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 1:58 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 32:06
Weather: Sunny with high cloud
Temp: 23-24ºC
Humidity: 47%
Wind: light
BPM: 163
Weight: 166.9 pounds
Total distance to date: 4620 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8

Today’s run was all about consistency. I headed out to improve on, well, every aspect of last Sunday’s not-so-great run and achieved this. Hooray! Here’s how today’s run was better:

  • Faster pace (6:23/km vs. 6:33/km)
  • Lower BPM, 163 vs 166
  • Did not have to stop and walk at all
  • Left foot was not sore
  • Had enough energy at the end to actually do a little running on the way home
  • Only one cyclist on the trail–and he was walking his bike (!)

And here’s a few small ways the run was a tad worse:

  • It was slightly warmer, but drier, and my mouth was so parched I actually thought about how I might want to carry water or gel packs with me during runs this summer
  • A tree had collapsed where the Conifer Loop connects to the main trail, forcing me to clamber over branches to keep going
  • A parks worker in a putt-putt car nearly mowed me down from behind. Seriously, those things are quiet and they are not driven by kindly old seniors.

In terms of pace, I started out at a slower, steadier pace of 6:16 and fell way back on the second km to 6:42. This is why I don’t check my pace until after a run–seeing that number would have crushed my spirit and tossed it into the lake.

But after that I was the model of consistency and apart from a brief stitch in my lower left side along the Cottonwood Trail, I felt fine, if not quite peppy. Today it felt more like just being out of shape vs. recovering from The Worst Cold Ever, so that was actually a positive. For the last three km, my pace was 6:20, 6:22 and 6:22 again. I found my comfort zone and stuck to it.

Overall, then, a perfectly fine follow-up where I achieved everything I hoped for. After last week’s dismal effort, I was pretty sure I would see an improvement this week, so the results aren’t unsurprising. They are still very welcome.

Run 606: Slower, stinkier

Run 606
Average pace: 6:12/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 2:14 pm
Distance: 5:02 km
Time: 31:02
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 16ºC
Humidity: 53%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 162
Weight: 168.1 pounds
Total distance to date: 4610 km
Devices: Apple Watch Series 2, iPhone 8

The conditions for today’s run were different in a number of ways compared to last week’s:

  • warmer (16º vs 9º)
  • windier (it was a tad breezy at times)
  • at the lake running clockwise (ostensibly harder than clockwise) vs. running the river (which is inarguably easier)

I headed out and was pleased by a decent pace on the walk to the lake. I was less pleased by having to pee twice before starting the run, using every available public toilet along the way (which was both of them). I had decided ahead of time to run counter-clockwise, but this time I started the run on the south side of the dam, at the official 0K marker.

I headed off and at first it felt like I was running too hard and I kept pulling back, but it still felt hard. When I finished and saw the average pace of 6:12/km, I was not surprised–it nearly matches my previous run at the lake. The total run time is only separated by a mere second. It always creeps me out a little when that happens. How can I be that incredibly consistent from one run to the next over a distance of five km? Weird, I say.

Because I felt like I was working harder, I was also not surprised to see my BPM up a bit, but only a bit, and well below the threshold I prefer staying away from.

The big surprise came when I looked at the splits:

KmPace
16:14
26:33
36:24
45:53
55:57

As you can see, I was doing the opposite of pushing to hard at the start, as I was muddling along at a decidedly average pace if 6:14/km. I did succeed in slowing down, though. as I dropped to a slug-like 6:33 in the next km. I recall feeling especially slow right around the midway point of the run before finally finding something of a second wind, or maybe just a moderate second breeze.

Whatever it was, it allowed me to pick up the pace, so my last few km were actually run at a decent pace. But by the end I was tired. I spent the first km after the run recovering and thinking about how much more my knees were aching compared to most runs (they seem no worse for wear now). After that one km of recovery, though, I ended up finding a new reserve of energy and managed ro run/walk the rest of the way around the lake. Overall, I’m not thrilled with the result, but I’m not really upset, either. It felt harder than it should have, but maybe the uptick in temperature was enough to drag on me.

The trail was quite busy. I didn’t see too many runners going by (and none dealt me the psychological blow of sprinting past me from behind), but one was jogging with a German Shepherd on a leash and I thought it was cute and then the dog barked at me–once–as I passed by and I no longer found it cute.

There were multiple cyclists out, all of them wearing that “I’m pretending I don’t know I shouldn’t be riding here when I totally know I shouldn’t be riding here” look. You fool no one, naughty cyclists!

The stinky part is in reference to the skunk cabbage, which is nearing peak skunk cabbage aroma. It is not a delicate bouquet.

Fortunately, despite the people, dogs, cyclists and geese, there were no near-collisions or fancy dipsy-doodling required to navigate around anyone. The section near the fields was festooned with several large puddles, and these did require a bit of coordinated footwork to avoid getting soaked from the ankles down. If they do any resurfacing on the trails this year, I hope they do this section first, even if I’d really like to see all the tree roots on the Cottonwood trail covered up. At least that trail never gets submerged.

I’m tentatively planning on another run on Monday, as it’s a holiday, but I will see what my knees say (“Hell no” or “Well…okay” seem the likeliest responses) before deciding. Also, if it’s pouring rain I may lean toward the “Hell no” even before consulting the knees.

Fun fact: I set a new Move record on my Apple Watch today, with 1840 calories burned (it’s up to 1912 as I write this):


Run 600: 600th run, 600 people

Run 600
Average pace: 5:54/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 12:37 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 29:43
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 11-12ºC
Humidity: 70%
Wind: light
BPM: 167
Weight: 165.3 pounds
Total distance to date: 4580 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Today’s run was a milestone, being the 600th run I’ve officially tracked, so hooray for me on sticking with this. This works out to an average of 66.6 runs per year, which is positively devilish. If I break it down further, it’s 5.5 runs per month, which is both less Satanic and also a lot less impressive-sounding. This is because some years I’ve run a lot less due to injuries and/or laziness. If I stick to my usual three-times a week my monthly average would be 12, more than double.

So I’m pretty lazy and prone to injury.

All that said, I was of course concerned how today’s run would go with two weeks off, but the results were pleasant in that they were nearly identical to the last run. My total time was 29:43, only three seconds slower than the run on October 6th. It’s actually a bit eerie how similar they are. In other good news, my BPM was down to 167, back below the 170 threshold. While some abdominal cramps threatened around the midway point, they never fully materialized.

In terms of stamina, then, the run actually went decently. I never felt like I was plodding (or blazing along, of course), and keeping pace with my previous effort is a victory of sorts. Conditions were fine, too, hovering around 12ºC and with a light breeze. I wore a t-shirt so this was the first run in awhile where I didn’t feel overdressed.

But it was crowded as all heck. I keep meaning to start earlier because at mid-morning the trail is relatively deserted, but just a few hours later it’s booming with foot traffic. I compounded matters by running clockwise again. I did this because the proliferation of fallen leaves made the north side of the lake, with its many exposed tree roots, a greater hazard for running. Running clockwise puts me in the same direction as most walkers, meaning they can’t see me coming.

And they couldn’t hear me, either. There were so many people–usually walking in twos, threes, or larger groups–that I settled into a refrain of “On your left!” or occasionally “On your right!” when that seemed easier. And in nearly every instance, the people did not show any sign of hearing me. They would seem startled as I nipped by them. This happened over and over. It was baffling. I even started saying it louder, to no avail. I never screamed it, because I didn’t want to seem rude or suggest people are blithering idiots that need to be screamed at.

There was a kid about 3 or 4 on the second boardwalk, slowly and somewhat randomly walking down the middle, oblivious to everything around him (as an aside, this is probably not the best spot to let a small kid get ahead, because if he goes exploring over the edge, he’s in the swamp). I figured “On your left!” would make no sense to him and tried to think of a phrase that would work as I got nearer. At the last moment I settled on gently but firmly calling, “Look out, kid!” then slowed down further, put out a hand and made sure we would not collide, as his parents fruitlessly called to him from behind.

There were also several cyclists, but my vow to not complain prevents me from saying more. For the best, anyway.

Post-run went well once again and in some ways this is now becoming my favorite part of the outing, because I don’t worry about pace, I just run for as long as I want, then walk for a bit, then run again. It’s unstructured, less demanding and makes the running part feel more fun, somehow.

Here’s to the next 600 runs.

Run 599: A horse, a lot of people, bicycles, poop, fallen branches and a slug (me)

Run 599
Average pace: 5:53/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 1:01 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 29:40
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 13-5ºC
Humidity: 54%
Wind: nil to light
BPM: 174
Weight: 164.2 pounds
Total distance to date: 4575 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

I decided to try something different today and deliberately start slower, to see if I would have more energy for the latter part of the run. This did not work, as my whole run was slow instead. But it did work in one way–the third km, where I normally slow down, was actually my fastest–but it was still slow, just edging the pace of my last run by one second at 5:42/km.

My first km was 5:55/km, which is sort of appalling. and my BPM was still way up, to 174 this time, so I’m essentially achieving the opposite of what any rational person would expect, working harder and achieving less.

The only real plus side is I didn’t experience any actual issues during the run.

The trail was crowded, too. I started by gingerly jogging past a horse on the Avalon Trail. Horses are generally fine, but when you pass by one you realize just how big they are and I’d prefer they remain calm as I go by, given this size. Also on the Avalon Trail was the most horse poop I’ve ever seen. I actually had to navigate it like an obstacle course. It was weird.

And perhaps because it was sunny and I started a bit late, the trail was jammed with people. No real issues encountered, but I had to stay alert to avoid collisions and ensnaring myself in dog leashes (but thanks for leashing your dogs, dog people!)

A parks worker had one of their putt-putt cars on the Cottonwood trail, but I couldn’t quite see what he was doing, as he was behind it. Then I saw a large branch topple horizontally onto the trail. Oh. It may have been broken and become a hazard. He was slicing it up with a chainsaw stick (I’m sure it has an official name, but this is at least accurate regarding its appearance).

Not too far after him I encountered a crusty old man on a bike who was riding more like a 20-something meth addict. I wonder if the parks worker with the chainsaw stick had a word with it. Or cut his tires to ribbons.

The other frustrating part of the run was the GPS in the iPhone. Again, it seemed to be giving inaccurate results. I started well ahead of the 0K marker (which, if you’re running clockwise, is actually the 10.3 km marker, too) and despite taking no shortcuts, still had to run past the 5K marker to actually hit 5K. I had covered nearly 5.4 km at that point, so this is hardly a small discrepancy. It’s bad enough to have a slow run, it’s worse when it gets dragged out unnecessarily. :P

Maybe I really will try with just the watch one of these runs to get a proper comparison. It was so off today I actually had a thought to start looking at a dedicated sport watch again.

Overall, a continuation of a disappointing trend. Hopefully things will improve soon™.

Run 581 and 582: Down, but not out

Run 581
Average pace: 6:15/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 12:40 pm
Distance: 1.98 km
Time: 12:25
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 28ºC
Humidity: 33%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 164
Weight: 164 pounds
Total distance to date: 4487 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Run 582
Average pace: 6:22/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 1:02 pm
Distance: 3:01 km
Time: 19:14
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 28ºC
Humidity: 32%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 164
Weight: 164 pounds
Total distance to date: 4490 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

I got started later than expected, but it didn’t look like it would be too hot, as the temperature was around 24ºC when I headed out. I originally planned on running at the river but the lack of shade convinced me to go ahead and do a counter-clockwise circuit on the lake instead. Was this a miscalculation? Read on to see!

By the time I got to the lake the temperature had gone up to 28ºC. This is Africa Hot territory, it’s significantly warmer than the last run (16ºC) and I’d kind of skipped out on the runs during the week, so I was going in with a full week off. Plus I’d walked the lake loop yesterday, which might have left me feeling tired (though I felt fine heading out).

I started off and thought I’d push just a little for the first km, knowing my pace would surely droop after, so it might lift my average time a bit. I averaged 6:04/km, which is already not great. By the time I neared the 2K mark I had crashed out to 6:28/km, which is very bad for less than 2 km of running. I did not feel good. I mulled my options, then decided to call the run there (had I looked at the watch I would have pushed the wee bit to make it an even 2 km because I’m obsessive like that).

I switched to a walk and after about a km I felt recovered enough to start running again. I set a goal of 5 km but would be satisfied by just picking up the remaining 3km of my original 5K.

I definitely felt better hitting the 2K mark this time, but I was exercising a lot of caution. Even then, as I got into the sun-baked stretch leading up the bridge at Deer Lake Brook, I knew I would stop at 3 km. I looked at my watch a lot. I finally hit 3K shortly before the bridge and happily switched over to walking again.

The walk out actually went fairly well.

The factors playing into this stop-start run would seem to be:

  • lack of regular running leading to generally lower stamina level
  • the knees complicating things in their own way
  • significantly hotter weather
  • strong breeze contributing to dry mouth/thirst

On the plus side, I did get in 5K, just not all in one go. I didn’t give up, I regrouped and tried again–and succeeded. My BPM, despite the high temperature, was actually down from last week. If you combine the two times you get an average pace of 6:18/km, which is nearly identical to last week when the weather wasn’t really hot and gross.

On the negative, I felt like I was running on the proverbial empty tank. I was hot and bothered in the not-sexy way. I know I could have kept pushing on the first run and probably made it to 5K, but it would have been a protracted experience of misery. I’m happy to know my limits and work with them.

With Jeff away on dirt bike vacation next week, I have no real reason to not run after dinner, though it looks to still be hot. I ponder my options. Maybe I can carry a watering can and just keep sprinkling water over my head. Or hook up some VR simulation and go for a very convincing facsimile of a run.

Run 579: The longest run ever

Run 579
Average pace: 6:14/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 12:36 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 31:21
Weather: Sun and cloud
Temp: 18-20ºC
Humidity: 44%
Wind: light
BPM: 168
Weight: 163.4 pounds
Total distance to date: 4480 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Or at least it felt like it.

I headed out again with two full days off, my first back-to-back(ish) runs in a long time. Usually when I do this my pace is faster on the second run because I am a tiny bit more in shape than the previous run.

That did not happen today.

I expected the knees to be sore from the start and they were. In fact, the 4 km walk to the lake seemed to stretch out way beyond 4 km, which was not a good sign. But it was warmer and semi-sunny, so I set off with slow-and-steady being the favored approach.

The first km was actually not that bad. I came in at 5:48/km, which is faster than the previous run. By the second km the wheels were wobbly, slipping to 6:12/km, a fair bit slower than the previous run.

And then the wheels came off. For the third and fourth km, my pace was 6:34 and 6:49/km. By this point my knees actually didn’t feel bad, but my stamina had packed up and left the country. The gas had been siphoned from the tank. Elvis had left the building.

I didn’t just feel slow today, I was slow. I plodded. I thought about pausing the run and walking for awhile. I thought about stopping at the 4K mark. As I neared the last stretch by the athletic fields every step felt like I was getting no closer. I looked at my distance. 4.84 km. Normally that’s a number I laugh at as I sail to the finish. Instead, it felt like it would not move. I keep looking, seeing it go up in horribly small increments. I finally heard the triumphant ding that signaled 5K completed and congratulated myself for still being upright.

My external monologue immediately after (and it was external, between gasps for oxygen) went something like this:

“Fuck.”
“Fuck.”
“Fuck.”
“Fuck, that was hard.”
“Fuck.”

I used my potty mouth quota for the entire month in the space of a few seconds.

In a final irony, the walk back went fairly briskly, with a rare sub-9 minute pace of 8:58/km, so neither knees nor stamina were an issue once I actually finished the run (or perhaps more accurately after the run finished me).

The higher temperature and sun likely played a factor. I sweated a small amount, which is more than I have for most of the spring. Still, the complete bottoming out was weird and a little disturbing. I even ran the “easier” side of the lake, going clockwise. It made no difference.

On the plus side, I didn’t stop early, I never switched to walking, and I actually picked up the pace in the final km, even if I felt a little like barfing those final few steps. On the neutral side my BPM was the same as last time–168–which is higher than I like, but still below the threshold of 170.

I am both curious and terrified at what the next run might be like.

Here are the splits with bonus commentary.

KM Time per km Comment
1 5:48 A decent start. Knees sore.
2 6:12 Getting kind of tired already. Not thinking about knees as much.
3 6:34 It feels like walking except super tiring now.
4 6:49 Please make it stop. Can I stop? I want to stop.
5 5:50 Running faster will make it stop sooner.

Run 577: Sore knees, cramps, so very tired, but no plagues of locusts

Run 577
Average pace: 6:09/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 11:21 am
Distance: 5:05 km
Time: 31:11
Weather: Sunny
Temp: 18-20ºC
Humidity: 54%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 162
Weight: 165.8 pounds
Total distance to date: 4470 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Well, I now have two back-to-back runs with a pace of six minutes per km or more. This is not a good thing, but it’s still better than collapsing halfway through the run because my knees exploded and getting carried off by a pack of dingoes.

First, the conditions. It was a lovely summer-like day, with warm temperatures, a light breeze, and clear sky. I actually sweated a little, but it wasn’t too bad, and the air wasn’t super-dry, so I didn’t feel parched. The sun did feel surprisingly toasty when I was out from under the tree canopy, though.

And the trail was not as busy as last Saturday, which was nice. A few unleashed dogs threatened but never quite got underfoot. Overall, a fine day for a jog.

But the walk to the lake left my knees feeling sore, which is not helpful when you are about to start running. My mantra was again to just go through and not push at all, not even for the first km, which is usually easy peasy.

A couple ran past me just before I was to start, so I milled a bit to give them some space. I didn’t want to catch up to them and pass, because that would require accelerating to pass, then running faster long enough to create enough space to keep them from being on my heels. My knees were in no mood for this.

My pace for the first km was a pokey 5:59/km, so I stayed true to my word. The second km was only slightly off because, as feared, I closed the gap on that couple and ended up having to pass them. Surprisingly, my knees were not really any worse for this, but I did begin experiencing some cramps shortly after. Normally cramps are a sign that I’m just plain running too fast, which is currently impossible, so it’s more likely a sign of, “LOL you are SO out of shape, slow down before you rupture something.” And I did slow down.

In fact, my pace for the third km fell through the proverbial floor, dropping a massive 22 seconds. Here are the splits for all five km:

1 km 5:59
2 km 6:02
3 km 6:24
4 km 6:25
5 km 6:07

I did pick up for the final stretch, but was definitely in that “please lord let it be over” state of mind. Well, maybe not that bad, but I was certainly glad to end the running part and go back to the walking part. The walk back was fine, though this time I didn’t have the energy to mix in any running, save for a bit during a few small stretches. Mostly I want to get back and have a nice bubble bath and pretend I had the world’s best knees.

Another positive from the run was a BPM of 162, about the same as the last run and well below the 170 max I try to stay under.

But much like my broken tooth that got infected and forced me to see the dentist instead of pretending they were mythical creatures, I am likely going to have to talk to my (new) doctor about the knees. Perhaps I can be outfitted with bionic replacements or given some miracle cure that will make them feel a hundred years younger. If the actual cure is “find some other exercise that doesn’t involve running” I will be sad and such.

I might try running on Tuesday. A 5K at the river will be a gentler experience and my pace might be better as a result. This could be a pleasant psychological boost. Now I just have to actually do it, instead of simply writing about it yet again.

Run 575: A new bridge, a new stink, knees and bonus running

Run 575
Average pace: 5:49/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CCW)
Start: 12:15 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 29:17
Weather: Cloudy, some sun
Temp: 11ºC
Humidity: 64%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 167
Weight: 169.1 pounds
Total distance to date: 4460 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Last week I did an elliptical/treadmill workout at the Canada Games Pool because the weather was poop and I didn’t feel like running in poop. That meant it’s been two weeks since my last outdoor run, so I was curious to see how it would go.

The weather was slightly cooler, but still mild and I ran counter-clockwise, but conditions were otherwise similar.

My average pace turned out to be identical–5:49/km. The knees held up, as before, and my mind was mostly mulling over where that thing called stamina went, as 5 km feels more like 500. Still, I got through without any issues and when I’d walked enough to cool off I began to run/walk the rest of the way to the trail exit, probably adding over 2 km of extra run time. Mt walking pace for the 9 km return trip was exactly 8:00/km, which is basically impossible at an actual walking pace.

The knees felt stiff during the walk back, which had the curious effect of making me want to run, as it was more comfortable.

My BPM was a bit higher at 167 but still below the 170 threshold.

The skunk cabbage has reached its stinky phase. Fortunately it never gets super-stinky, just kind of “yeah, wouldn’t want to be locked in a room with that” stinky.

The new bridge, which was in place but not open for the previous run, was now open and had a nice grippy concrete surface poured on it. The old bridge is mostly dismantled, with only some of the superstructure remaining. The new bridge feels very solid and has a sleek and sexy curve. We’ll see how it fares in slippery conditions.

Overall, I felt better than expected given the time off. I managed to keep to my previous pace, so that’s encouraging.

I make no promises now, but I will try to run before another week has passed.

Run 574: Geese, bikes, deforestation and a new bridge

Run 574
Average pace: 5:49/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 1:47 pm
Distance: 5:03 km
Time: 29:20
Weather: Clear, some cloud
Temp: 12-14ºC
Humidity: 40%
Wind: light to moderate
BPM: 163
Weight: 167.1 pounds
Total distance to date: 4455 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Today’s run can be divided into Good and Bad.

Good:

  • the weather was pleasant and mild, the sun actually felt nice
  • my knees surprisingly didn’t bother me
  • I didn’t experience any other issues, though I could feel a bit of that “not-quite-in-shape” burn
  • two geese standing right next to the trail at an especially narrow point did not react as I passed close by, apart from one shifting slightly. There was no hissing or pecking, from either the geese or myself.
  • the bugs at Deer Lake Brook were gone, possibly having already died from old age
  • the new bridge is in at Still Creek

Bad:

  • I had the first taste of dry mouth for the season, as it was rather breezy
  • my knees actually felt worse on the walk back after the run, though they’re fine now
  • I was surprisingly slow at 5:49/km. I think the weekly pace (ie. running only once per week) is catching up to me. I plan on running on the holiday Monday to start getting into regular runs, totally for real this time.
  • the new bridge at Still Creek is closed, so you still have to use the old one. For now they co-exist peacefully.
  • a weirdly large number of cyclists on the trail getting in the way and such. Also briefly a horse, though the rider stopped just short of moving onto the “no horsey” part of the trail.

Signs of spring were all around, too:

  • the water fountain by the dam was awakened from its winter slumber
  • the “Icy conditions” signs have been removed
  • general increase in green, with trees budding and blooming all over

The skunk cabbage is also on the verge of blossoming, too. This is the time of year when it looks pretty and isn’t stinky.

Pretty before the stink.

Four (!) trees have been cut down since my last run at the lake, including several that had been leaning rather precariously. A fifth that had a large branch angled over the path, requiring you to either duck under or go around has also been amputated. This past winter has probably seen more trees come down (via storm or chainsaw) than in the seven years I’ve been running here.

Overall, I am left a bit nonplussed by the run. I was hoping to get a pace in the 5:30s range, but at least the knees were fine. Well, I shouldn’t say fine. I’ve come to realize that for awhile now (several years, at least) my knees have been very tender whenever I have to use them, like when I kneel on the floor to tie a shoe or scrub something off the kitchen tile. They feel weirdly sensitive. I can replicate this by going into a crouch. I have no idea if running caused this, or if it’s hereditary (my dad had bad knees) but I’ll keep running for as long as I’m able to or possibly get bionic knees.

One other positive was the BPM holding at 163. It’s been remarkably stable, which seems like a good thing. As I get in better shape it should go down. I just need to do more stuff to actually get in better shape. :P