I definitely should have run first thing this morning, but watching Daniel Craig in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was infinitely more important than getting to sleep early last night. We all have our priorities.
At any rate, the weather here is gorgeous today - sunny, low-ish humidity, a cool breeze - just perfect. Unless you are a runner. Then, it's just a little bit too hot, a little bit too sunny, and the wind is either too strong or non-existent.
When I headed out to run this afternoon, it was already 77 degrees. After having to walk for a lot of Saturday's run because of the humidity, I knew I needed to pace myself well if I wanted to run the whole 45 minutes I had planned for today. I started out slowly and was running into the wind for the first half. Sometimes that was okay, because it would cool me off, but more often than not, it wasn't a very cool breeze, so it just forced me to struggle a bit to keep my pace up. I kept feeling like I was running so slowly that I was almost running in place, but after a few minutes, I could really feel myself tiring out, so I knew I had to keep it slow.
After the first mile, I was really struggling, and I was worried that I'd have to take a walking break. I think if I hadn't taken it so easy last week and cut myself a break, I probably would have walked a lot today. But because I felt like I didn't get a solid week of running in last week and I need to be able to survive that 10k in about three weeks, I continued to push myself. I reminded myself that my "happy life list" or "bucket list" or whatever you want to call it doesn't say "Run a 10k under a 10-minute mile pace." It just says "Run a 10k" (it used to say "Run a 5k" by the way - first thing I got to cross off!!). So although I like to think that I need to be running faster all the time, the main thing is that I'm running. And today, I ran.
I tried to think about the part of my route that was right ahead of me (especially since I felt like every time I looked at the time, I always had thirty-plus minutes left). And I just...kept....going. It was slow, but I was running. I had it in my head that I just wanted to hit the 5k halfway mark, that if I did, I would consider that a win for today. But then I passed it. And kept going. I realized that I was definitely going to hit four miles for today (which is not ALL that huge for running 45 minutes, but I was so hot and tired, it was a big deal to me today). Because I knew I was really going to be tired on the back half, I turned around about twenty seconds early and headed home. On the second half of the run, I got to thinking a bit (I love it when I can think about something besides how tired my body feels while I'm running, because it makes me feel less tired). I passed a group of people sitting on the beach (in bikinis - is it really bikini season already? I mean, I'm wearing shorts and a tee shirt, but I was running...anyway, I digress) and although I'm a huge fan of sitting on the beach and relaxing, I was proud of myself that I was taking a lunch break to run. A few months ago, the most athletic thing I was doing was scrubbing my bathtub and today, I ran four miles. That made me feel pretty good about myself! And it's made me feel like other things are possible in my life too.
As I was running, I also passed a woman on a bike - a serious biker. You can tell the difference, because leisure bicycle riders are wearing regular clothes and sit up straight on their bikes. They sort of meander along, and you can tell they're either trying to get from place to place, or their just enjoying the weather. The serious athletes are the ones with helmets, wearing spandex, and crouched over their handlebars like they're in the Tour de France. As she passed me, she waved and smiled and it made me feel like part of this club of athletes - people who work out when it's hot, or even when it's raining - definitely a cool feeling!
Despite that though, I've been having a bit of an internal debate with myself lately, wondering if I might just be a recreational runner, and not a competitive one. I really loved the experience of my two 5k's and have enjoyed all my training up until then. But since then, having to ramp up my running has really been a mental struggle and I feel like I'm trying to get over this threshold to become a real distance runner. I'm not sure if it was because I had two bad weeks of running right after the 5k's, feeling like my body was revolting against me and finding it hard to get back into the rhythm of running or if it's because I just don't want to run more than 3 or 3 1/2 miles at a time. I'll have to figure that one out. Mainly I have this question in my head before I run, but then when I get back home after a good run (or even today, after a tough run), I feel great and enjoy seeing how far I can run. So who knows?
At any rate, I finished 4.06 miles in 45:10 - an 11:07 pace. I wasn't very happy with being over 11 minutes again, but since it was hot today and I deliberately slowed myself down, I'm going to cut myself some slack. I think tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same, so I plan to get my butt out of bed earlier and run first thing instead, and hopefully I'll have some better speed. Tomorrow is a short run (ha ha, I love when I call 40 minutes a short run. It sounds short, but it sure doesn't feel that way!). Then I've got Friday off and I've got a nice long 55-minute run on Saturday. In about a week or so, I think I'll actually be running to the post office in town and back - I always thought that was so much longer than it actually is...