Posted by: Dark Smith | April 21, 2011

2.8 miles today, no issues…

Today, I was running alone (running partner Andy is out of town), and was a little nervous about W7D1, which has me running 2.5 miles for the first time.  As I chronicled previously, W6D2 was a little tough, and I felt like I’d struggled to run a 1-and-1.  The 2.25 mile run went better on Tuesday, and I attributed that to having my running partner to push me forward.  In any event, I was awake at 6:30 this morning, and after three days straight of training, Sunday to Tuesday, and using yesterday as an Off-Day (with massive hailstorms here at home), my body was rearing to go.  So, I got my warm clothes on (polypro legs under windpants and two layers on top), and headed out into the balmy 33F morning for a 2.5 mile run, the first of my life…

I killed it!  I definitely ran slow at first, after my 5-minute warm-up walk, and struggled in my usual uphill climb by the Library, but Mile 2 went swimmingly, and when I reached 2.5 miles, I was on auto-pilot.  I ran the last 0.3 back to the car where I usually walk.  I don’t like to go “off program” since I’m usually very by-the-book on this stuff, but I felt so damn good, I just wanted to keep running.  I thought, what will an extra quarter-mile hurt?  I really could have continued through to 3.1 if I’d been so inclined.

Looking forward to Week 7 Day 2!

Posted by: Dark Smith | April 20, 2011

Hail makes for a good Off-Day!!

Finished Week 6 of the C25K program yesterday, with the culminating activity of a 2.25 mile run on Day 3.  Andy and I ran our usual course, from MVHS to the Info Booth, and back up River Street on the Island, back up Hancock Street to the school.  First mile was slow, second mile saw me really struggling at about Mile 1.5, near the Rumford Public Library.  But Mile 3, starting at about 2.0, went really well, and I felt like I’d hit my second wind and could have finished the 3.1-mile loop that day.  In any event, it was a good workout and I was glad to have the 6th week of C25K under my belt.  I ran three days in a row this week, and was a little nervous about how my body would react, but I was able to power through a tough W6D2 workout to finish strong on Day 3.  I definitely think having a partner to run with is key for me at this point, but I also try to run every other workout on my own, to continually remind myself that I know how to do it, and can function on my own.

Luckily, I had pre-determined that Wednesday (and possibly Thursday) would be an Off-Day for me to rest, having logged nearly 7 miles in 3 days (a lot for me at this point in my running career).  This turned out to be a good choice, as we have thunder, lightning, rain and M&M-size hail today.  It would have been a lousy day for running, and it worked out great.

Posted by: Dark Smith | April 18, 2011

Week 6 Begins in Earnest…With a Hill!

Yesterday, I took on Week 6 Day 1 (W6D1 in C25K parlance), and headed out in a light drizzle, which reminded me I still need to gear up a bit.  No running hat, no running gloves, and these things seem almost crucial in a late April rain in Maine–somehow 40 degrees and rainy with a breeze does not strike me as attractive running weather.  Nevertheless, I headed into town without my running partner Andy (we are on April break, and as teachers, we don’t spend every minute together when we have days off, so I am on my own until Andy comes into town on Tuesday to do some work–yes, teachers work on days that we don’t teach) to take on the W6D1 workout:

  • 5 minute warm-up walk
  • 1/2 mile run
  • 1/4 mile walk
  • 3/4 mile run
  • 1/4 mile walk
  • 1/2 mile run

At first, my brain was disappointed that I wouldn’t be running as far as I did on Friday (2 miles straight for the first time in my life!), but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I would have a better time running a shorter distance, and that, if you stop and think about it, running 1 3/4 miles wouldn’t be that big of a deal–a statement that would have made me laugh aloud a month ago.  As I’ve discussed recently with some of my friends at the Newbie Cafe (an online community for new runners to discuss their successes and find answers to their questions), I am loving C25K because each week you make big advances, big strides, but then you get to back off a little bit and build on your success, hammer home the long distances that don’t seem so long after you’ve already pushed through that barrier, and emphasizing gradual growth over a constant steady climb.

In any event, as my workout continued, I found myself climbing Franklin Street from the Porter Avenue end, which more or less resulted in me running the 3/4 mile distance (which is not yet very easy for me) completely uphill, the last 1/2 mile being rather steep.  My legs and lungs were in a competition to see who was burning up more, and although my feet were moving quite slowly, I continued to climb, and eventually reached the top, without walking.  This was a major success, and I enjoyed the reward of a long, gradual downhill back to my starting point, allowing me to recover, and stretch out my last 1/2 mile run.  What a great workout!

Tomorrow, W6D2 with Andy.  Updates then.

Posted by: Dark Smith | April 16, 2011

First 2-mile run of my life!

Yesterday, my running partner and I did the W4D3 workout, and even though I was a bit apprehensive / concerned about the likelihood that I would complete the run, I finished the first 2-mile run of my life.  It felt pretty awesome to get that far, considering that I had only been running 1 mile at a time as of Wednesday, and Wed. was the first time I’d done that in years.  We started out pretty strong, at about 1.2 miles I started to slow down, feeling a little tired, but knowing I did NOT want to stop running.  At 1.8, a side stitch tried to take me out, but at that point, I knew I had it.  I stopped at 2.0, feeling like I probably could have finished the 3-mile loop, but wanting to save that, the way you save the last chapter of a book for a moment when you can really savor it.

Off-day today, then back to work on Sunday, excited for W5!


Posted by: Dark Smith | April 13, 2011

In the beginning…

So, why am I running for the first time since I was 13?  And why am I blogging about the experience?  Good questions.  The first answer is easy.  The second, slightly more complicated.

In December, I became engaged to a beautiful woman with whom I have shared my life for the last five years.  As our July 16 wedding date approaches, I have felt the need to improve my fitness.  I want to look sharp in a suit, and look as good as I can for my fiancee on our wedding day.  This is normal enough, right?  So, after a few weeks of hemming and hawing, and with the spring thaw that comes late in my part of Maine, I decided that I would run my way to a fitter figure, and clear a second hurdle at the same time: my 20-year aversion to running.  Yes, it is true, I have a dislike / borderline-fear or hatred of running.  I ran track in junior high, and ran about a 7-minute mile.  Since then, I have avoided distance running.  I just do NOT like it.  But, running at this stage in my life has become something akin to a self-induced challenge, an “I dare you” challenge I’ve issued to myself.  Maybe its an early onset of some pre-midlife gut-check.

Now, why blog…  As you just read, I am averse to running, and frankly, I don’t fully trust myself.  🙂  So, this documentation is a way to a) encourage myself to stay engaged in the process, and b) remind myself of how far I am going in this process.

If the reader wishes to follow along, offer encouragement, or draw inspiration from this blog, then I humbly invite you to be part of my journey.


Posted by: Dark Smith | April 13, 2011

The First 5k

After three weeks of following Cool Running’s Couch-to-5k (“C25K”) program, I had worked my way up to running 90 seconds at a time, walking 90 seconds, running 3 minutes, walking 3 minutes, etc.  Its kind of funny to think about being at that point, as I am right now a bit farther along than that (more in a minute).  Up until now, I had been jogging strictly on a treadmill indoors, both at home, at the gym, and in hotel gyms when I was on the road.  If I used to hate running, I hated running on a treadmill twice as much.  There was nothing, or so I used to believe, worse than running on a treadmill, because:

  • you don’t go anywhere
  • your view never changes, and
  • you worry you are going to fall because of a loose belt, or something like that.

So, when I finally reached a point when I could get outside and begin running on the road, I jumped at it.  As it turned out, there is a convenient 1.5 mile stretch of road just outside my door, beginning from my driveway, which makes a nice 3-mile “out and back.”  After a few days of running (now working up to the occasional 1/2 mile jog before walking), I decided that it was time to register for my first 5k.  I scoured, and found the “3rd Annual Portland Sea Dogs Father’s Day 5k” on Father’s Day, June 19, in Portland, ME, about 80 miles from my house.  This seemed like the perfect time (last week of school, where I teach), perfect place (I love the Portland Sea Dogs AA Minor League baseball team) and perfect occasion (proceeds go to prostate cancer treatment; my father battled prostate cancer about 12 years ago).  I was convinced this was the run.  I am now registered, and working my way toward this 3.1-mile race.