Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Taste of Spring...

The weather lately has been as close to perfect as it gets around here, and yesterday was no exception to that. A light breeze, 13C temperatures and bone dry pathways are a refreshing break after the winter that we've gone through this year. Spring doesn't officially start until Friday, however this is generally the best time of year as it hasn't really gotten hot yet, but it's still warm enough to head out without all of the gear that the winter entails ;)

As such, shortly after 4PM I headed out for the first time this year with a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. Aside from feeling great in and of itself, the weather also prompted many other people to head out as well. As such, there were tons of people out on their bikes, dozens of other runners just getting back into the routine after taking the winter off and children playing all over the place. It's certainly nice to see things livening up again, as most of my courses can get pretty quiet when the weather gets cold ;)

Unfortunately, my footpod battery died on me as I was starting but given the weather I just ignored it and headed out anyway. This did make things a little more difficult, as the plan called for a 7 mile run with 6x100m strides. I normally do the strides going back and forth down a straight ~2.5km stretch of road, so gauging my overall distance can be difficult without electronic aides. Fortunately, with only six of them scheduled I figured out a way to work them into a different route that I knew reasonably well and could guestimate distances. Naturally, figuring out exactly how long 100 meters is by feel is a bit difficult, so I simply counted five sets of lamp posts and went with that (I could have also used the track at a local high school, but at this time of day the kids are still there).

To get an estimate of my pace over the various segments of the run, I manually hit the lap button at roughly 1km intervals and remembered where they landed. When I got back home, I then mapped it out using RunSaturday's (more on this later) mapper and manually entered the lap distances in ProTrainer (giving me split times, distances and average pace). Fortunately, I was relatively accurate and most of the laps ended up being pretty close to what was intended. I did, however, lose count at some point during the run as the total distance was exactly 1km longer than planned (12.25km vs. 11.25km).

In retrospect, the pace was a little higher than I planned on doing the run (overall average of 4:33/km vs. 4:45/km). That isn't unexpected, however, as doing 5K races tend to make me a little too enthusiastic and getting back into control generally takes a few runs even with the watch ;) Normally, when pacing information isn't available I'd use heart rate to guide me, but strides tend to throw that off a bit. I likely could have done this in the second half of the run, but I was feeling good and elected to just run naturally for a change ;) In the end everything worked out well, however, and functionally that's all that really matters.

This weather has also prompted me to start thinking about when to get my bike changed back over for outdoor use. When I moved to the indoor trainer, I had some old tires put back on so that I didn't ruin the good ones over the winter. Between the wear that the trainer has put on them, and the gashes that prompted me to replace the tires in the first place, I don't really trust them on the road right now. Conversely, if I switch back to the good tires I'd be hesitant to do any significant mileage on the trainer as I don't want to wear them out prematurely.

As such, I'm going to have to pick a point to switch from indoor to outdoor training. While the weather is nice right now, it's still early in the season so I'm not sure I want to tempt the fates at this point ;) I'm tentatively thinking about bringing it down with me prior to the Harry's 5K in April (my bike shop is near that course), and have them make the adjustments while I'm running the race. Hopefully I'll have figured out the cycling computer stuff by then as well, as it would be nice to get that installed at the same time. Ultimately though, I likely should get another set of wheels so that I can switch between the trainer and outdoor riding on my own.

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