My brief experience as a PE teacher

The begging tone of the email that comes from the Room Mom on Monday (excuse me…the Support Manager) tells you right away how unpopular the PE volunteer spot in the first grader classroom can be.  We’re talking private school, bumper crop of stay at home parents, a freaking WAIT LIST to be the monthly Mystery Reader, and still…that damn PE spot was open on Thursday and needing to be filled.  I happily went to pull my working mom card until I looked at my schedule and realized…oh.  I’m off on Thursday afternoon.  I guess I actually COULD be in my daughter’s classroom (or, rather, the smelly cafeteria-turned-gymnasium).  With 20 first graders. All itching to play games.  And run wild.  And risk concussions.  And…ugh.  I’m certain there’s a whiner or two in there as well.

I do not do whining.  I do not do group activities with small people or concussions and I don’t even pretend to like most other people’s children very well.  But I really want to be the Mystery Reader at some point, so I emailed the desperate class mom and said sure, what the hell.  If I’m ever going to get the chance to show up and surprise my child and her friends, story book in hand, AND get to sit with the children in a quiet, controlled environment where heads will roll if there’s talking out of turn, I’d better pay my dues.

My caveat in the email to the class mom?  Please ask the teacher to plan something for me to do with them.  I love exercise and I love the theory of getting children to exercise and I especially love the idea of my child’s teacher getting a coffee break but, left to my own devices, this would entail all 21 of us strapping on our ear buds and going for a nice three mile run while listening to a podcast of This American Life.  Probably not going to earn me any cool points.  And, tragically, being the PE parent IS what makes you cool in this small person crowd.  Kids beg us to be the PE volunteer.  They speak jealously of so-and-so in their class whose mom came to do PE and played FREEZE DANCE and LINE TAG.  I work full time.  I am rarely the person who gets to take my daughter to school (often enough that I could pick her teacher out of a lineup, but barely), I am reminded always that I forgot to pack a treat in her lunch, I make her practice her violin every day.  I have no cool points.  I need help.  So, if I could just do this PE thing for 30 minutes, I’d be IN.

Thursday arrives.  There are no local natural disasters and not one of our patients in the morning dies, so I have no choice but to show up at my daughter’s school shortly after lunch.  I arrive about 10 minutes early and sneak in to the classroom, only to be greeted by multiple children all reading SILENTLY.  To themselves.  You could hear a pin drop in there.  I begin to sweat.  Look at them!  All of them, reading quietly, for God knows how long!  Seriously, how long have they been sitting here, saving up their energy and aggression?  This first grade teacher clearly runs a tight ship. These children are going to become ANIMALS when I take them to the cafeteria-turned-gym.  They will eat me alive and the last thing I will remember before I die is the smell of overripe apples and stinky chicken nuggets.

But then!  A surprise!  A WONDERFUL SURPRISE.  The teacher is going with me!  To the gym!  SHE IS GOING TO HELP ME.  Maybe because I bribed her with a Starbucks vanilla latte, but still.  I feel love in my heart for this woman.  She will be there to ride herd on these crazy people and all she wants me to do is lead the kids in stretching while she gets herself organized.  We walk to the gym and my daughter gets to lead the line with me, happily skipping while holding my hand.  I wonder, looking down at her, is this what makes the kids so happy?  The PE volunteer spot so popular with these short people?  That their grown up appears and, because it is THEIR grown up, they get to lead the line and hold hands with the one they love so very much?  So far, so good.  Easy.

I am lame at leading stretches.  I face these 20 first graders and limp my way through arm circles and runner’s stretches and maybe some jumping jacks, all of which would make my yoga-instructor mother cringe.  But they don’t seem to care.  Because there is LINE TAG in their future and SHARKS AND MINNOWS and SOMETHING INSANE THEY CALL ‘EVERYBODY IS IT!’ WHICH MAKES ME LOSE TEN YEARS OF MY LIFE.  There are people crashing and burning all over this place.  And one little chubby kid who runs his heart out but looks so red in the face I fear I may need to use my CPR skills.  I spend the entire 25 minutes choosing children to be it (the teacher tells me this is her least favorite part, the choosing people to be special, so she lets me do it but I think she’s just trying to make me feel a little special), and darting my eyes around frantically as I watch the crashing and the burning.  None of this fazes the teacher.  Nothing.  She calmly blows her whistle and calls children out and hugs the fallen and waits patiently for all to be quiet before explaining the next game.  It is a level of patience and, quite frankly, blindness, that I can only aspire to.

At the end, she asks her class to give me a ‘whoop, whoop!’ for helping out.  It is the most darling sound.  It means my spell as PE helper is over and I can go home.

And go for a three mile run.

Well.

Allow me to sum up the past four months of my running life: my springtime training plan went horribly awry, leaving me with neck pain and headaches that took forever to ease off; Amy and I ran only one half marathon all summer; long runs are now 6-7 miles as opposed to the double digits of last year; I discovered (and fell in love with) arm warmers…and I’m looking in to buying a set of knuckle lights and a reflective vest because I just can’t stomach the thought of heading back to the track at the Y merely because darkness now falls at 7 p.m.

I was pretty gung-ho about documenting my running life earlier this year.  And I expected, as we headed in to the nice weather of summer, that I would have more time on my hands both to run when I wanted to and write when I wanted to.  Not so, the universe reminded me.  And it wasn’t just my troublesome neck that reminded me I’m not cut out to be an intense, training-plan-following, running-6-days-a-week type of mother runner.  My daughter finished kindergarten back in June and OH MY GOD.  This summer left me longing for the days of dropping her off at daycare in the morning and picking her up there, at the same spot, each evening.  The season was a blur of ‘Where Is She Going This Week’.  Summer camps, college kid babysitters, a few weeks of driving her back and forth to Oma’s in Mt. Vernon…combined with trading daycare with other parents so that my every Wednesday off left me with not one but at least two and sometimes three antsy 6 year olds.  It was my debut summer as parent-to-an-elementary-schooler and by mid-July I knew it was going down in history as a Fail, AND WHEN DOES SCHOOL START AGAIN ANYWAY, but we’ll do better next year.  The chaos definitely shoved my running habit to the back burner.

However, the season was not a total loss.

I mentioned those weeks the little one spent with my mom, who lives two hours away.  I won’t admit this to my child until she’s grown and has children of her own…but those were the best weeks of my summer.  You want to know why?  Without my daughter here, I could roll out of bed just as daylight was breaking, force Amy to do the same, and go for a 3-4 mile run BEFORE OUR DAY EVEN STARTED.  That’s right, folks.  I fell in love with checking the running box first thing in the morning.  I always hear about moms who say they have to make themselves get up at 5 a.m. because if they don’t run early, they won’t fit it in to their day at all.  Let me just say that if that’s a luxury afforded to your life, I am completely jealous of you.  It is glorious to step out your front door just as the sun is rising, when the only sound in your entire neighborhood is your feet pounding the sidewalk.  Meeting your BRF on the corner a few blocks away and checking off the running box together?  Even better.

So there you have it.  A summer of running highlighted not by training for and running a litany of half marathons, but by the short little early morning runs that I could squeeze in at irregular intervals.  This is my life right now and it’s taken me four months to come around to the idea of accepting it, but I’m getting there.  Someday, my daughter will grow up and need me just a little less, and this will open up new doors (and timeframes) for running.  Running doesn’t have to be intense, going up a size in jeans is not the end of the world, and WHO KNEW ARM WARMERS WERE SO AWESOME.

(Seriously.  Go buy yourself a pair.  You won’t be sorry.)

(And it will motivate you to keep at the free weights, because the arm pudge oozing out the tops of the warmers is not. pretty.)

My apologies to Grandma

Today is the all-kindergarten field trip to the zoo and aquarium.  Three kindergarten classes in the school, what’s that, like 60 kids?

The teachers requested several weeks ago that each child have a chaperone.  Probably something about keeping 60 hyperactive 6-year-olds safe and contained on the zoo grounds throughout the day.

I briefly considered taking a vacation day to go along on the field trip.

Briefly.

And then the school called on a random Friday at 9:30 in the morning to report ‘Zoey isn’t feeling well’.  Further questioning revealed no fever and no vomiting as of yet, and a lot of dead air as the not-a-nurse waited for me to say I would come get her.  Goodbye, 8 hours of PTO!  And then they changed the time of kindergarten graduation (conveniently scheduled on a Monday) from 2 p.m. (awesome, I can work most of the day) to 10 a.m. (are you f***ing kidding me?).  Goodbye, 6 more hours of vacation time!  Add to this the amount of time I’ve requested off this summer to save on my sanity and daycare costs, and that PTO bank is looking pretty meager.

And did I mention the nearly 60 kindergartners at the zoo?

Yeah.  I can barely keep it together to teach an hour of science on the Wednesday afternoons I volunteer in the classroom.  I am not your ideal chaperone.

Cue the phone call to grandma.

Grandma, I’m going to get off the computer now and pack you a fabulous picnic lunch.  I’m throwing in Valium and ear plugs and the fervent prayer that the zoo has a Starbucks just inside the gates.  Thank you for taking one for the team and volunteering to be Zoey’s chaperone today.  I owe you, big time.

Always in my head

Dear Zoey,

I was standing at exchange #8 yesterday, getting ready to run my second portion of the Rainier to Ruston relay, 50 miles with five of my good friends.  I had run 4.something miles only an hour and a half prior; I was waiting to run another 3.something as soon as Maggie came in.  The sun was out, and while it was a pretty day, running in temps that are pushing 70 can be challenging.

So I stood off to the side, getting my playlist ready to go and soaking in the excitement of all the runners around me.  Just as we could see Maggie off in the distance (there she is!  She’s almost here!), the song 22 by Taylor Swift popped in to my ears.  It had to be a sign.

Remember last weekend, when we sat on my bathroom floor, and you were giving me one of your famous pedicures?  You told me you were getting my toes ready for my race.  We had music blaring in my bedroom and you were applying layer after layer of multiple bright colors, plus small flower decals and a clear top coat “because Mommy, this will help the colors stay on and not get chipped”.  And when the song 22 came on, your new favorite, you started singing while you were painting, and I laughed because the lyrics coming from your mouth just sounded so sweet and funny.  (It’s miserable and magical oh yeah…a perfect chorus for running with a neck injury and the beginnings of a blister on your little toe.)

Anyway, you were singing and I was giggling and I promised you that, next week, when I heard this song come on during my run, I would smile and think of you and my pretty, pretty toes.

So you were in my head as I slapped hands with Maggie and took off for 3ish miles in the sun.  You were in my head the whole time, really.  Sara Bareilles sang about being Brave and the group Fun told me to Carry On.  I thought of you clomping around the house in my high heels and turning cartwheels in the living room.  I thought of you snuggling up to me in the mornings and riding your bike up ahead of me while I run in the evenings.  I thought of everything about you that I absolutely love, your perfect little six year old personality.

Thanks, Zo.  You always keep me going, even when you’re not with me.

 

Setback

Week 5 of our training plan has brought some very unwelcome setbacks.

And it was a relatively easy week!  We planned it that way, getting some of the more difficult workouts done last week, because today we run the Rainier to Ruston 50 mile Relay…and we wanted to be fresh and ready to go.  This is a race Amy and I have been looking forward to all year–we ran it for the first time last year and had a blast.  So there has been much anticipation and excitement and, basically, I’ve been up since 4:30 this morning because I’m ready to go and I can’t wait.  (I’m excited to write a race report later this week.)

So.  Let’s just talk about my neck for a minute.  That ugly, pesky little herniated disc has started causing problems again, but hey, only when I actually have to MOVE my head.  It all started Tuesday, after our hill-repeat-in-the-muggy-evening run.  I had a dull headache afterwards but brushed it off.  Wednesday morning greeted me with the same headache that I tried to ignore and pretend it wasn’t a migraine but, of course, it was.  And then, BAM, Thursday I woke up and my neck felt all cranky.  Add another migraine to the day and I was officially sidelined and a little panicky that I wouldn’t be in good shape to run our race.

I’ve been dealing with this injury since I started running three years ago.  I’ve listened to all sorts of smart professional people tell me I really have no business running in the first place.  However, I have found that with the right blend of anti-inflammatories and stubbornness, I can keep going.  But this training plan, and it’s increased intensity, has started to take it’s toll.  I’m wondering if I need to back off or quit all together.  I want to keep running for a long, long time…a 10 week training plan that leaves me with faster miles but constant neck pain just isn’t worth it.  But then again…maybe if I just back off a little bit, and rest, I can be back in the swing of things by next week.

It’s always a balance, always a gamble.  I ran my slowest 3 miles in quite some time on Wednesday, and took Thursday off altogether.  Zoey and I made it through 27 minutes of Family Circuit class at the Y last night before my neck started whining again, so we left.  I woke up this morning feeling, so far, okay. I’m nervous that running today could really screw up my head, in more ways than one.

 

Dear Kindergarten Teachers,

I am writing to lodge a complaint.

It’s May.  As in, school will be out in one month.  So, as a somewhat whiny mother who has volunteered countless hours of her precious few days off in your classroom, I just want to know:  can we slow it down a little?

I have sent my child to school every Monday with her homework folder completed, even if it meant waging battle with said child on both Saturday AND Sunday morning, before I was even adequately caffeinated.  Show and Tell?  For 26 weeks, we came up with an item to share with the class, something that starts with the Letter of the Week, even when the letter was X, and when the final letter item was stowed in the little backpack and I had breathed a sigh of relief that I wouldn’t have to use high levels of thinking anymore to help find age-appropriate show and tell items, you threw me a curve ball:  now we’re sending sh*t that starts with a SOUND, like ‘th’ or ‘sh’.  Well played, my friend.  I didn’t see that coming.  You know what starts with ‘wh’?  Whiskey.  You’re lucky I didn’t send in a poster board of inappropriate words that start with ‘sh’.  Can we stop the Show and Tell madness?  I’m tired.

And thanks ever so much for starting the new tradition–ONE MONTH OUT FROM THE END OF SCHOOL–of math homework every. night.  Because it’s not hard enough to convince a squirrely six year old to go to bed when it’s still daylight…now I have to practically sit on her while yelling ‘you can’t play outside, you have HOMEWORK’ every weeknight.  I’m not going to lie, I was hoping I could delay this nightly-homework-ritual for a few more years.  It takes her approximately 27 seconds to complete the worksheet, once she starts.  It takes upwards of 27 minutes to get her to sit down and start.  I feel there are better ways I could be spending these 30 minutes every evening.  Like drinking wine.  OH WAIT.  Math homework and wine drinking go hand in hand.

I’m almost done, I promise.

Just to remind you, we’ve done a lot for these kids this year.  You’ve prepped fine, smart, almost-first-graders.  I’ve sent endless cupcakes and paper cups and large boxes of Goldfish crackers to help keep your classroom running.  I’ve sat in tiny plastic chairs and cut out large scarecrow body parts and Johnny Appleseed body parts and other paper body parts that were destined for the recycle bin before I even finished snipping them from the page.  We’ve endured countless emails from the Room Mom regarding everything from volunteer schedules to field trip schedules to school auction donation schedules.  I’ve sent my child dressed up for every theme you ever dreamed up, and trust me, there was a stretch near the beginning of the year when you had a theme for EVERY SINGLE FRIDAY.  I want you to know, my standards are much lower than this.  If my child shows up at school fully clothed, I’ve done my job.  Bonus points if the clothing she’s wearing actually matches.  An every-Friday-theme added a level of stress to my life I hadn’t stopped to consider prior to sending my child off to elementary school.   I somehow missed the Farm Day theme and felt briefly guilty until my daughter asked me ‘what’s farm wear, anyway?’  But don’t worry, I made up for it on Silly Slipper Day and School Pride Day and Color War Day and even Camouflage Day.  I hate camouflage.  My grandmother bought her a $7 camo shirt from WalMart so she could wear it exactly once.  You’re welcome.

I think what I’m saying here is that we’re all tired.  The moms are tired.  The kids just want to play outside all the damn time.  YOU have to be tired.  So feel free to slow it down.  Together, we’ve raised 19 kids who can read and do simple addition and subtraction.  They can mostly keep their mouths shut when they’re supposed to and, thanks to your handy classroom chart, they only use the bathroom four times a day.  Call it a victory and let’s just coast thru this last month of school, shall we?

Laundry

Can we just talk about laundry for a moment?

Running five days a week has put a serious toll on the washers and dryers living in our houses.  Especially when it comes to sports bras and running shorts…you might think I am constantly running these machines because I am keeping up with my six year old who changes her clothes on a whim, but you would be wrong.  She, naturally, has enough clothing stuffed in her closet to last until the end of third grade.  Her mother, on the other hand, has twos pairs of running shorts and only one running skirt she feels comfortable wearing in public at the moment.

And sports bras.

Amy and I both own a hierarchy of sports bras, ranging in fit and comfort from super-snug-and-supportive to why-bother.  It costs a lot of money to keep the girls from swinging up and punching me in the face, so my rotation contains only three bras.  The oldest, and most stretched, resides on the bottom of the pile, so that when I pull it out and buckle it on (yes, buckle, as in 11 hooks from top to bottom), I know it’s time to run another load of laundry.  Way back in February, I swear I never even reached the bottom of the bra pile.  Now, thanks to a training plan and unexpectedly gorgeous weather early in the year, I’m wearing my why-bother bra more often than I would like.

So, when you come to visit my house, and you hear the hum of the washing machine in the background, take pity on the machine.  It’s been so overworked lately.

Race pace, tempo, interval. Three terms for ‘just run fast’.

Tuesday night workouts are fast becoming the sessions Amy and I love to hate.  Last night wasn’t much different.  We dragged our sad, tired selves to the park at 6:30 and, as usual, Dash was the only one of our trio who hopped happily from the car and spun himself in to circles of excitement at the prospect of running.  Amy and I should probably try peeing on multiple trees during our warm-up…maybe that’s the key to boosting running enthusiasm? 

(Side note:  Dash becomes borderline psychotic at home when he senses a run might be in his near future.  He whips himself in to such a frenzy, banging everything in his path with the Tail of Death, that Amy can’t even get dressed for a run until she’s literally ready to walk out the door.  Last night, I got a photo text as I was leaving, a blurry image of Dash with socks in his mouth, and the caption ‘here’s your sock!  Please can we go now!’  It’s seriously a level of excitement that shames the both of us.)

We set off for our one-mile-ish warm up, toward the high school track.  On tap for the evening:  after a warm up, run two laps around the track at race pace, followed by one lap of recovery jogging.  Repeat three times.  Cool down.

I’m noticing, three weeks in to this plan, that interval training can be disguised as tempo runs or the term ‘run at race pace’.  I’ve done plenty of reading and flipping through dog-eared pages of TLAM, only to reach the same conclusion each time…you need to run fast.  You need to run fast, and hard, until your chest burns and, until you think you can’t go any further, and then you need to keep going for another lap, or another 30 seconds, or until your knees buckle.  

“These runs teach you to run through fatigue.”

So very true.  Tuesday evenings are dreaded only in part because they challenge or push our physical fitness.  The bigger challenge is in our mental fitness.  Because let me tell you, after one lap of a two lap race pace/interval/tempo/sprint, it’s my mind that is telling me I need to slow down, not necessarily my legs or my lungs.  My brain is crying ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING, YOU CRAZY PERSON?  SLOW.  DOWN.’  But, when pushed, my body can almost always give a little bit more.  It’s tapping in to that mental reserve that is the greatest challenge. 

We finished our four speed-up-slow-down rotations although, as usual, I was ready to quit after the first one.  I gasped out as we ‘recovered’ at a very, VERY slow trot, “you mean…we have to do…THREE. MORE. OF. THOSE?!” Amy assured me we could.  And, as usual, we felt badass and accomplished when it was finally time to walk off the track.  Happily spent, we joked that, between the two of us, we are the perfect runner…I go out fast and pull ahead in the first lap, but lose steam quickly.  Amy builds up to her speed slower but can finish faster because she hasn’t used all the gas in her tank.  We used our cool down time to slowly walk back to our cars, chatting about the upcoming Rainier to Ruston relay, stopping to let Dash sniff and pee as he chose.  

And, while I always love to check another box off the training plan hanging on my fridge, I am particularly proud to check off the Tuesday boxes. 

Decode the following:

Tuesday’s workout:

1-2 mile WU; H: 8 x 1 min in Z4; 1-2 mile CD.

Yes, that’s right.  We’ve completed week #2 in our training plan, a slightly less exhausting 7 days than the previous week, emphasis on slightly.  Tuesday was our one challenging workout, partly because it required some studying of different sections in TLAM to figure out what, exactly, we were supposed to be doing.

Hill repeats.  That’s what it basically boiled down to.  We ran about a mile and a half to warm up, arriving at one of our ‘favorite’ hills so we could run up/walk down it 8 times.  This, to me, seemed only slightly more bearable than the sprinting workout from the week before, although Amy W strongly disagreed.  We ran full bore up that hill, in Zone 4, the first time.  (Zone 4, according to TLAM, should feel “slightly less uncomfortable than a root canal”).  We walked back down.  Again.  Maybe in Zone 3.75.  Walked back down.  Again.  By Repeat #6, we were struggling.  Repeat #8 was Zone get-this-the-f**k-over-with.  

Oh.  And then we got to run 1.5 miles back to our cars.  THAT wasn’t pretty.

Amy had to give me a serious pep talk as we hobbled back to the library, where we had parked.  My legs were aching and I was hot and sweaty and uncomfortable.  My mind seemed to be the only over-active organ in my body, and NOT in a positive way.  It’s a mile and half!  THIS should be easy!  You run this all the time, why are you dragging?!

Well.  

As Amy reminded me, I was dragging because our bodies weren’t used to this level of intensity in our workouts.  I was dragging because it was 85 degrees in May in Washington.  I was dragging because I had been on my feet all day and, instead of opting for an easy 4 or 5 miles like I usually do on a Tuesday evening, I had chosen to run up and down a stupid hill over and over and over again.  

Right.

Hill repeats left my body and mind feeling spent.  I fell in to bed that night and slept like a log. (So, you see, better than interval training.  I may not have felt that fabulous runner’s high, but I also didn’t lie in my bed for hours, trying to find a comfy spot for my achy knees and hips.  Not a bad trade-off.)

So, after feeling pretty awful following our Tuesday billy-goat work out, you can see why I wasn’t super excited to arrive at Amy’s house Wednesday morning after our kids went to school.  On tap for the day was a ‘fun workout’.  We translated this to ‘easy run’, and set out for one of the local neighborhoods with long stretches of flat sidewalk.

It was the polar opposite of Tuesday’s run.  First of all, we were starting out early in the day, with overcast skies and cool temperatures.  We climbed exactly zero hills.  We ran at our normal, easy pace, very conducive to gossip and chitchat.  My legs felt light and five miles passed by quickly.  We happily ended our run with a trip to Starbucks and a sense of relief because, finally, we had gone for a run and enjoyed ourselves.

 

I didn’t die during the first week of our training plan…it’s a miracle.

I almost started this post with the line “Amy and I decided we needed to start a rather intense training plan because our running life has been a little ho-hum lately…” but I knew she would be quick to correct the statement by saying WHATEVER LADY, THIS WAS ALL YOUR IDEA.  She would be right.  I was re-reading one of my running bibles, Train Like a Mother, and I stumbled across the ’10k: Own It!’ plan and thought hmmm….THIS sounds like a good idea!

That was a few weeks ago.  We’ve completed Week One, and it’s been an exhausting (and achy) week.  My favorite day so far has been Friday, which was the freaking rest day.

Monday wasn’t bad.  An easy three miles.  No sweat.  We came home from work, grabbed the kiddos and their bikes, and hit the trail.  Interval training was on tap for Tuesday but we’ve done that before, right?  Yeah.  Right.  We started with the one mile warm up, chatting as usual while Dash stopped to pee on every twig and branch he saw, slowly making our way toward the local high school track.  And that’s when things turned painful.  We were supposed to all-out sprint for one minute, followed by a one minute recovery of a slow jog or walk.  AND THEN REPEAT THAT TEN TIMES.  I’ll let you guess how many recovery minutes were spent jogging and how many were a feeble, stumbling walk as we attempted to catch our breath.  Oh, and guess what, you’re supposed to cool down with a one mile slow run, which we couldn’t skip because we had to get back to our cars.  Probably best, now that I think of it, because if we had parked at the track we would have surely collapsed in our vehicles as soon as the awful sprinting was over.

HOWEVER.  I must say, I felt a runner’s high that I haven’t felt in a long while, the high that comes from pushing yourself farther than you thought you could go.  I didn’t even care that I was stinky and sweaty and headed to Winco to go grocery shopping.  So that’s saying something.

The real problem came a few hours later, when I tried to go to bed.  My body was exhausted but my achy hips and knees wouldn’t let me settle in to sleep. I had the same problem Wednesday night, even though we only did an easy three miles that day.  My body seemed to be in a constant state of WTF-are-you-doing-to-me?  It couldn’t get comfy enough to rest.

And then we got to Thursday.  I can’t remember the last time I so desperately wanted to skip a run.  Amy and I worked in the procedure room together that day, which meant we were on our feet from 7 am to 4 pm.  Then we were off to the Orting Trail for our first ever tempo run.  The term tempo run was a little confusing to me up to that point.  I had read about them, understood the general concept.  Run a set portion of your workout at 75-85% of your max effort.  Run hard enough that you’re barely able to talk, but not so hard that your lungs feel like they might cave in.  So…somewhere in between a fun run and a sprint?  I had to actually get out and do it in order for it to make sense, but trust me, I wasn’t wanting Thursday to be that day.

But we did it anyway.  4 pm:  time to switch the Dansko clogs for the running shoes.

I’m pretty sure I was driving Amy nuts by constantly looking at my phone (I run using the Map My Run app), because normally I strap it to my arm and don’t check it again until we’re all done.  But I’m neurotic and for some reason, I had to make sure we were doing this workout ‘right’.  Also, I won’t lie, I wanted to be CERTAIN we didn’t go one measly stride over the prescribed four miles.  1-2 mile warm up, 1 mile at tempo pace, 1-2 mile cool down.

It turns out, running at a tempo pace was pretty much what I expected–far less fun than our typical run, where the gift of gab flows freely, but far less painful than sprinting.  AND, while checking the Map My Run stats later on, I discovered our tempo pace was 9:15!  Very impressive for two 10-11 minute mile girls.

Also, after completing four days in a row of training, I did not feel one bit guilty for my huge dinner and early bedtime on Thursday night.  Because by that night, exhaustion won out, and I slept like a rock.  And now here we are at Sunday, and after two rest days in a row, I’m definitely ready to tackle our six mile long run.