Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Getting Back Into the Swing

I felt a lot better out there today. The cramping didn't recur, thank goodness, but I still felt a little stiff in the calves, and legs in general. I still felt heavy, too, and it seemed like my feet were slapping the pavement pretty hard.

The Path Under The Stairs is a little dicey but if I stay on the south side of the path, in the shadow of the ridge of snow piled up from plowing, I'm on packed snow all the way down, and up when I come back. After that, it's pretty clear.

I took the ramp from the foot bridge down to the path along Memorial Drive. It felt like I was doing better this time too. I felt faster, and when I glanced at the GPS when I reached the walk like at 7th Street, the time was about where it usually is when I get to that point.

At 10th Street, the underpass is still under water and a lot of ice. I imagine they'll have to replace the guard rails again in the spring, as the metre and a half of ice will likely bend the existing one pretty bad before it melts away. There is also construction that's been going on since the spring.

The parking lot by the Parks office is still fenced off and full of odd piles of materials and equipment. They've routed the path along the curb beside Memorial Drive, until just past the parking lot it dodges away from the street toward the existing trail.

All reasonably clear, a little packed snow. I climbed up onto the Metawa Bridge at 14th Street as usuual. There was a little bit of a breeze from the west, but by then I was warmed up and not noticing it.

On the other side, it was quiet, and I met the few runners that I'd already met on the other side. At the Metawa Bridge, I crossed quickly when there was a lull in the traffic. The crosswalks aren't in the right place: I'd have to cross 4th Avenue, then 9th Street (which the bridge connects to on the south side of the river) then back across 4th Avenue again. There's no crosswalk on the north side of 4th.

Running down between the Metawa Bridge and the C-Train bridge to go under it, I looked over my shoulder at the mass of ice that had piled up in the underpass. A runner was picking his way through the jagged mess to the other side. I had no confidence that there were no thin spots. It had to be a metre over the lowest point of the path down there.

The rest of the run was no big deal. I still felt heavy but the leg cramps were mostly a memory. The run up The Path was the usual huff and puff, and the steepest part seemed to be unusually demanding. But it seemed to take no time to get to the top.

From there, it was the usual six hundred metres or so to my finish line, a short block to walk, and then some serious stretching on my front step.

Today's run:
Distance: 7.06 Time: 43:10
Average speed: 6:07 min/km. (9.81 kph)

Shoes: New Balance 769 (Blue).
Today's earworm: Sad L n K with happy notes.

Weather: Sunny and -9C .

Sunday, December 27, 2009

An Improvement

It's still going slow this season. I've really fallen off the rails here. I didn't get the leg cramps as bad as the last couple of times out, but they were still there. And after almost an hour they were down to a dull ache.

I headed out shortly after sunrise, running toward and along the bluff, and then down Nony's Awful Little Hill to the Centre Street bridge. I worried about being under-dressed. I was feeling the cold, but hoped that I would warm up enough from running.

At the first interval, I was slower than the last time I was out. I let go of any thoughts of having a reasonably fast run, and just concentrated on getting in the distance I wanted and getting it done.

I ran along the promenade, not the hobble that it felt like last time, but the heaviness was still there. I felt like I had gained forty pounds somewhere, the way my foot impact was hammering the pavement. I feel heavy and entirely graceless.

At the C-Train bridge I crossed to the north side of the river. The underpass under the Louise Bridge was still under ice and water, and I imagine the path on the other side might be neglected by the sidewalk plows because of that.

The run along Memorial was a heavy plodding affair. I wasn't improving my time much, and sometimes when I was on a walk break, I missed the chime to start running again.

By the time I got to the pedestrian overpass near the Boy Scouts building, the leg cramps were a distant ache, but I still couldn't get it in gear. I think I was running slower and slower as time went on.

I had another walk break just past Crowchild, and decided to call it a day. I'm usually there after about 30 minutes, but this was at the 40 minute mark, so was way off my usual pace. I turned around.

Something interesting to notice is that with the sun so low in the sky, almost all of Memorial drive from the C-Train bridge to Centre Street is in shadow from all the downtown skyscrapers across the river. Those towers cast long shadows.

When I got to The Path Under The Stairs, I actually managed to feel a bit more energetic and be a little aggressive. Climbing a slope seems to ease the kind of cramps I've been getting. But at the top, I was pretty much used up.

A sunny, beautiful day for running today, and in general I felt better than the last couple of weeks.

Today's run:
Distance: 10.39 Time: 1:08:52
Average speed: 6:37 min/km. (9.05 kph)
Rest distance: 0.68 km. Rest time: 7:00.
Total distance: 11.07 km. Total time: 1:15:52.

Shoes: New Balance 769 (blue).
Today's earworm: wistful L n K.

Weather: Sunny and -11C.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Feeling Old and Slow

It was a tough run this morning. I was looking forward to it, too. It's not too cold, and the snow started just nicely. It's the kind of day that's fun to run through.

I'd also found some shoes yesterday, too, and they were feeling very good this morning. I actually found the same shoe as last time, not realizing it until just now, because they are blue trim instead of the yellow of the last pair. I expected the shin splints, and they came back, not too bad in the beginning. I crossed Centre Street bridge, and was surprised how soon my first rest period came.

I welcomed the walk break, but felt the wicked tightness in the shins. By the second break that hurt lots. I got to the Louise Bridge, and of course with the ice jam that's been on the river for a couple of weeks, the path is under water. So I took the C-Train bridge across to the north side of the river.

At the end of the bridge, I turned briefly to the west, but things hurt. So I turned east to head home. I did start to loosen up a tiny bit, so by the time I got to the ramp up to the foot bridge, I felt I could continue. The plan developed to continue at least to Edmonton Trail, then cross south again and back track to Prince's Island and head home.

After crossing under Centre Street, I thought a little about continuing to maybe Bridgeland Station and crossing north there, running through Bridgeland and up the hill there to head back home. That might have given me a dozen kilometres, at least. But things were no better by the time I reach Edmonton Trail, so I stuck to the original plan.

Interestingly, every interval seemed to be slower and slower. My pace was dismal. It seemed to take forever to get to Prince's Island, and crossing that, to climb The Path Under The Stairs. I stuck it out to my usual finish, but it felt like it took all morning.

Today's run:
Distance: 8.45 Time: 58:51
Average speed: 6:57 min/km. (9.36 kph)
Rest distance: 0..50 km. Rest time: 6:00.
Total distance: 8.95 km. Total time: 1:04:51.

Shoes: New Balance 769 (blue).
Today's earworm: Permanent L n K.

Weather: Light snow at -9C.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hurtin' in Alberta

Jeez, what the heck? I was out - finally - for a run after the cold snap. Just too wussy to get out in that -45C wind chill, I guess. But man this was a hard run.

It was all packed snow, and not so bad for slipperiness. The Path Under The Stairs had a couple of spots at it's steepest that were a little dicey on the way down but for the most part it was pretty good running conditions.

But oh, so slow! No speed, and major pain in the shins. I was locking up, almost. I thought about stopping but figured I might just lock up permanently if I did. And heavy and slow. That's what it felt like. Every step was jarring and I just had no flow with it at all.

Is this what happened when you don't run for two weeks? It was tough!

Today's (actually yesterday's) run:
Distance: 5.56 Time: 37:10
Average speed: 6:41 min/km. (8.98 kph)

Shoes: New Balance 769.
Today's earworm: Sad and blue L n K.

Weather: Mostly cloudy and -8C

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Late Afternoon Run

When I work at home on a running day, I usually take a break at noon, and run then, but today I felt I was on a roll and kept working right through noon and most of the afternoon.

A half hour before sunset, I was done, though. I changed and stepped out the door. Jeez, it was cold! I mean not crazy cold, but it has cooled off considerably in the last couple of days. The snow we got yesterday wasn't too bad though, and I found that what was icy on Sunday was now packed snow and quite good to run on.

I headed down The Path, taking it easy though. There were still icy spots and I did a bit of a dance at one point when I found one with the heel of my shoe. A little arm waving for balance and I was good.

Across Prince's Island and down the promenade. It was pretty packed and icy, but not bad and I made good time.

I still felt the shin splints but had none of the fatigue that I had on Sunday. It felt much like I was back to my old self, if I ignored the sore legs and heavy wooden feeling in them. Still, my time was off.

It didn't take long to warm up either. Running is funny that way for me, hard to get out and get going. Cold and stiff at the start, but I know if I stick it out, I'm going to feel pretty darn good about getting through one more run.

Today's run:
Distance: 7.09 Time: 42:46
Average speed: 6:01 min/km. (9.95 kph)

Shoes: New Balance 769.
Today's earworm: Sad and blue L n K.

Weather: Clear and -5C