When the stick no longer works

Back in January, I did what I periodically do, and decided that I needed to sign up for some sort of arbitrary timed event (read: race) to get me to add running back into my regular rotation of exercise. So I signed up for the Stumptown Trail Half-Marathon, which is happening at the end of this month in Forest Park in Portland. I knew I didn’t want to do another full marathon (I’ve done three, and that seems to be holding strong as “enough”), and I knew that I much prefer trail running to road running. So a half-marathon (this will be my… hm, fifth or sixth?) on the lovely trails of my favorite park seemed ideal. And with five months to go before the race, I had visions of the lean, mean running machine I’d be by the race.

Except that seems to be too far in advance to be an effective prod, now. Because I know that I can procrastinate and not really train and still finish half-marathons – and full marathons, and the occasional self-imposed ultra – on mostly just willpower.

So I didn’t start running again until, well, this past week. ::facepalm::

Last Wednesday, I set out along the Burke-Gilman trail to see how long it would take me to do at least “half of a half” just by being determined. Turned out to be about an hour and ten minutes for seven and a smidge miles. Which was actually a surprisingly and gratifyingly good pace for me – averaging 11:15 min/mi on the admittedly dead-flat trail. (The really cool part to me was that my pace only rose a little bit each mile, rather than the more-normal pattern of “way too fast first mile”) That evening, though, my feet hurt more than they have in a very long time – badly enough that I had trouble falling asleep that night. And the next couple of days were marvels of sore muscles. (Stretching? What’s that?)

After some plumbing adventures derailed my plans to go for another run on Saturday, I instead forced myself to go out again yesterday afternoon. Instead of an evening run in low light and about 60 degree temperatures, this was a punishingly bright midafternoon run with the temperature in the low 70s. I felt so much worse while doing it than I had during the other run, and wasn’t surprised when my average pace jumped by about 45 sec/mile to over 12 min/mi.

But here’s the weird thing to me: my feet didn’t hurt nearly as much afterwards. I felt like I bounced back faster (though I’ve been super emotional for the 24 hours since, so maybe I didn’t recover as easily as I thought I did). I haven’t been sore. I actually almost want to go out again today, rather than go climbing.

Weird.

Anyway, it seems that “about a month” is close enough to a race to get me to go running. Does this mean that I need to sign up for a race for every month? That seems… expensive.

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