Still Here, Lurking in the Background

I haven’t posted in a while because there just hasn’t been much to talk about. A few weeks ago, wildfire smoke from around the area moved into the Tri-Cities. Both air quality and visibility suffered. (At its worst, I think our visibility was down to not much more than a half-mile.) From my office window, I can see the wind turbines on Jump Off Joe; that’s about nine miles south of here as the crow flies. Until the air cleared, at best I could barely make out the ridgeline. Our temperatures were also in the triple-digits. This is the environment in which I started running again. My first run was free of both heat and bad air: I ran at the Kettles bike trails on Whidbey Island. Although it’s much more damp over there, the cooler temperature was a blessing. I ran just over three miles, and it took me almost an hour. I cut my run/walk intervals back to 2:00/0:30, and that worked fine. The knee was pretty okay with it, with the exception of a few twinges. And the good part is that I gained almost 1200′ of elevation during this run.

The next day, I paused my drive home to hike Rocky Coulee near Vantage. I wasn’t well-prepared for this hike. I only had one water bottle (about half a liter). I was wearing trail running shoes and shorts; long pants would have been better. But I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity the check out some of this trail.

I figured that I need to restore my running endurance on flats for a while. Hill repeats, sure, but I don’t want to risk running descents until I’m certain the knee can bear it. I think my overall endurance is still pretty good — my resting heart rate is still 52-54 – but running is different. I’ve picked out a goal race – Chamna Chase Heavy Half – in October that’s flat. I’m hopeful that sticking to the flats, strength training, and perhaps getting rid of some of this extra forty pounds of fuel I’m carrying, will improve my odds of running injury-free.

A couple of weeks ago, when it was hot and the air was bad, I did a couple of short runs at Chamna. Between the conditions and my conditioning, the 2:00/0:30 was too much. I ended up with 1:1. That worked, but I’m hopeful it was more due to the temperature and the poor air quality than my cardio vascular system. That weekend, I was scheduled to ride the bike leg of the Power of Pasco sprint triathlon. The night before, our runner dropped out. She was having a lot of trouble breathing, and couldn’t bear being outside, let alone running a 5K. I let came prepared to walk the run leg – it’s on asphalt, so no running – and our swimmer was content to let me do so.

The air was so bad that although we could see across the Columbia River, we couldn’t see the surrounding hills. That day proved to be too much for my system, and my sinuses were irritated and my throat was scratchy the next day.

I started a core-focused small group training at the club. The last week of July was the trial week. The first session left my shoulders sore that night. In the morning, my glutes were sore. By lunch, I could feel it in my abs. Clearly, I have a lot of work to do! I signed up for the class, and so far I’m enjoying it. I have a goal of being able to do a legitimate push-up by the time the class ends in mid-September.

I’m also trying to focus more on my diet. I’ve actually set my MyFitnessFrenemy account to adjust my daily caloric needs in accordance with my goal weight and my current weight. Not loving that part, but if I’m going to lose weight that’s my best option. As always, some days are better than others. On the plus side, it’s summer: there’s a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, many of them coming out of our yard. (I’ve fallen in love with grilled zucchini!) It’s still a struggle, though.

I’ve sharply cut back my grain consumption, and I’ve come very close to eliminating processed grains from my diet. In the interest of seeing how my gut reacts, I’m cutting out dairy. It’s not strict; I’m cutting out cheese, ice cream, half & half, and probably yogurt. (I say “probably” as to the yogurt because there’s still a cup of homemade yogurt in the fridge and I hate to just throw it out.) I’m not scouring food ingredient labels for whey & casein. Thus far, I’ve done pretty good. I managed to have dinner at Fat Olives without ordering a pizza. (I left the cheese in the salad, too.)  I’ve found a way to make brown rice that I enjoy eating it — it is still not as wonderful as white rice, though — but I usually have just a half-cup instead of a full cup. (I wish you could see my sad face as I write that. I miss rice.)

Tonight, I have a ‘time trial’ run on my calendar. It’s in the mid-eighties. I’d planned to go to Zintel Canyon, but I think I prefer the idea of running in Chamna again. The goal is to establish a baseline pace for a two mile run at “fast but not all-out.” I have no idea what that pace is right now, but I’ll check it again in four weeks and I’m hopeful I’ll see some improvement.

This weekend we’re headed to Eastern Oregon to watch the solar eclipse. (We’ll drive down Friday and camp until Monday’s event.) There’s a five-mile run on the calendar, and a local suggested a run along one of the gravel roads nearby. I hope that’s not too horribly dull. I’d like to find some things for The Hubs & I to do, but we need to careful because his lungs won’t like the elevation  – 4000′  – and he’s healing a bit right now and that limits what he can do. We hope to check out the local sites and have some relaxation and recreation.

I’ve just spent about a thousand words describing how nothing much has been going on. I suspect there’s a touch of laziness that drove my absence from this blog. But alas, I have a training calendar now and training means writing. Thus – I am back!

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