Running through Suburbia


I went for a long run Friday afternoon. I had set out to do 10 miles. I hadn’t done a long run like this yet that wasn’t on a track or on a trail so I wasn’t sure yet how I was going to stay on pace with the 13 min miles that I have been doing at the track. At the track I just jog two laps, walk one lap, repeat over and over again and my pace remains the same. Running through the city would mean having to deal with stoplights and traffic that would interfere with my pacing by making me stop. I hate stopping. Unless, I’m done, in which case I love stopping.

I decided that I would run the route that I drive to work and then just keep going from there. I work 5 miles from home. I laced up my new shoes, grabbed a bottle of water, put on my headphones, and headed out the door. It was a pretty nice time to go for a run. The sun was still out but it wasn’t a hot day. I think it was in the 70’s (Southern California!) so it was nice.

I drive this same route every single day in each direction. It only takes me a few minutes to drive to work and back. Running takes considerably longer. Duh! There are so many things I noticed yesterday while running that I have never seen before while driving. Nothing spectacular but still stuff that I had never noticed before. The most memorable thing for me is that behind a high row of bushes that I see from the car while buzzing down the road is a huge house, maybe mansion, that I only observed because I was going slow enough to see it.

I kept a good rhythm. I read a blog post earlier that talked about keeping an eye on your running form. Keep your head up and eyes forward, relax your shoulders, abs tight, strike with the mid-front of your foot, and keep your feet under you to spring you forward with minimum effort. I made a conscious effort to do that whenever I started looking down or relaxing my abs. I passed by the driveway at work, looked at my GPS watch and it showed exactly 4 miles. I kept going. My old neighborhood is a few blocks down from work. Many years ago, I had created a little 2 mile loop through there. I decided that I would run to my starting point and do a few loops from there until I hit the ten mile mark and then I would bum a ride back home from someone. I got to the starting point, mile 5, and kept on going. I was listening to The Black eyed peas station on my phone. It’s nice running through the neighborhood. It was nice and quiet, and it’s cool seeing all the Christmas decorations up already.

Around mile 6 I started getting tired. It’s a funny thing to say that I barely started getting tired at mile 6 because the first time I pushed myself to run 6 miles non-stop I was so exhausted that I broke down a cried when I was done (more on that in a separate post later).

As I was jogging, the song “I gotta feeling” started up.

Maybe it’s because the guitar riff was matching up with my footsteps but all of a sudden I felt energized again. I ended up playing the song twice more before moving on to the next song.

At mile 8, my left knee started hurting really bad. This started throwing off everything. I remembered that scene in Rocky IV when he finally cut Ivan Drago’s cheek and his coach yelled out, “You see? You cut him! He’s not a machine! HE’S A MAN!!!” That was a turning point in the fight because at that point Drago started falling apart. That’s how I felt about my knee because it started throwing everything off. It’s like the road had been throwing everything it could at me and it finally found the chink in my armor. All of a sudden my breathing started getting out of control, I started slumping my shoulders and relaxing my stomach, I was hanging my head down. I would notice that I was doing one of those things, correct it, then fall apart on another thing, so finally during one of my walking breaks, I took inventory of what I was doing wrong, gave myself a little pep talk,  and once I started up again made sure not to do those things anymore. “Get it together, man. You’re almost done.”

Mile 9. At this point, I had already got off the phone with my wife and she was on her way to pick me up. My knee was hurting really bad now. I started picking out landmarks, “jog to the tree, walk to the next tree, jog to the fire hydrant,” I ran\walked like that for the entire mile and right as I was crossing the finish line I saw my wife’s car pulling up. I had finished my race and kept up my 13 minute mile the entire way even though the last couple miles felt like they took forever.

I came home, drank my protein\creatine drink, showered, and spent the rest of the night icing my knee. Oh, and I ordered more pizza than I could possibly eat. I fell asleep watching tv. All in all, it was a pretty good night.

PS. I also needed to take this opportunity to try out my new shoes. I bought some “Tough Mudder” trail shoes from Under Armour. I had used them twice so far on shorter runs and those first two times I took them out, they fit real good in certain areas but too tight in others. Turns out I had the laces on too tight and my socks were too thick. These shoes are form fitting so you can’t just wear thick socks. During my run yesterday, with the laces relaxed a little, and with thinner socks, the shoes felt great. No tightness anywhere, and they’re really lightweight, which is really important because when you’re tired and every step you take is heavy, the last thing you need is a heavy shoe weighing you down. Heavy shoes are what I am used to though because I usually only spend about $20-$40 on a pair of shoes from the local sporting goods store and this is the first time EVER I have spent over $100 dollars on footwear that weren’t cowboy boots. The shoes felt great and no blisters- Always a plus. I included a link if anybody’s interested. Shop UA’s Latest Footwear.