Friday, August 12, 2011

Running Logs

My log books from 2001 to 2009
One of the best pieces of advice I received as a brand new runner back in 2001 was to keep a running log.  USAFit, through one of the local running stores, gave away some really great log books that year and encouraged us to record our times, distances, and notes about our runs.  I dutifully recorded each workout, entering in the number of minutes I ran, the distance I covered, what route I ran, and a few words about weather, how I felt, what I wore, who I ran with.  

I found keeping that log inspiring.  Each page represented a week and at the end of the week I could total up my minutes and my distance, and watch both of those numbers grow as my first year of running advanced toward that first marathon.Over the years I've kept many log books - one a year - until January 2009, when I switched to an on-line log maintained by Runners World.  Even now, I look back at the previous year's log to compare this year's training progress to last year's, to look up a route, or what I wore in similar weather, or what the weather was like the same time last year.

The very first entry in my brand new log book the year I was a brand new runner is dated July 10, 2001 and in it I wrote, "31 minutes; 3.5 miles."  I entered "Memorial Park" in the column titled "course" and under notes, I wrote, "Hot; ate before, which gave me cramps at the 1.5 mile mark.   Felt very strong otherwise."  Looking back at that, I can laugh at the rookie tax I paid that day.  I'm also more impressed now than I might have been that day...I was 52 years old at the time and had gone from couch potato who'd never run a mile in her adult life to running a very respectable pace in less than 4 months.

Here's another one from that first log book, dated August 4, 2001:  "64 minutes; 6 miles.  Ran neighborhood; nice!  temps and humidity perfect.  put water in mailbox.  Amber moon."  I love that I took the time back then, even as a new runner, to record the little details.  Amber moon!

Thumbing through the book was a real trip down memory lane!  A few months later, on October 23, 2001, "31 minutes; 3.1 miles; 5K race, Baltimore.  Hills!  Walked approx. 1/2 mile."  I'd forgotten about that race! It was held in conjunction with a national meeting for healthcare research professionals.  We don't have hills in south Texas!

Then, December 1, 2001:  "215 minutes; 18.6 miles; Sugarland 30K race.  3 pee breaks but no lines; great support by Clear Lake Fit [my running club]; Rainy, cold, some wind from north.  Good run, difficult last 1.5 miles.  Hands got cold; wore bra, singlet, long sleeve coolmax crew, shorts.  Was exact right amount of clothing!"  

I remember this race so well!!  It was indeed a miserable cold rain, and that northerly wind!  I will never forget the personal triumph of that day, running 30K in difficult conditions.  Many runners didn't show up; many others balked at the start line and returned to their cars.   I remember changing into dry clothes afterward in the back seat of my car while my running partner stood "guard" outside.  We  huddled together in the car for a few minutes afterward, trying to warm up and congratulating each other for jobs well done.  Stopping for Mexican food afterward, we had stiffened up so much we were barely able to get out of the car, barely able to hobble into the restaurant.  The 30K race is the last in a series of four progressively longer races, all part of the Houston Warm-up Series leading up to the Houston Marathon in January.  Six weeks later, I would run that marathon, my first, ever.

I have no idea how many miles I've covered in the ten-plus years that I've now been running.  I know it's a bunch.  I also know that I'm in the "twilight" of my running years.  As much as I'd like to keep running forever, I know that the day will come when I'll lose the ability, or the desire, or both.  I've not thumbed through these old logs in a while, but doing so now, skimming through these sometimes sweat-rumpled pages, I realize just how much running has become a part of my life.    I get a kick out of reading my little comments and asides, recorded so many years ago; my self-congratulations, my "Uggh's" when a run didn't go well, and my "Hooray's" when I conquered a new distance or had an especially good run.

During the Houston marathon this past January, I came up behind a friend and fellow runner, Jo Ann.  In her early 70's now, she still cuts a slim figure out there, but her pace is unmistakably that of someone who's running through the pain of arthritis.  As I pulled along side, I slowed to her pace and we ran side by side for a while, getting caught up.  She confessed that she has slowed down a lot these last couple of years, but also expressed her optimism; she was going to do this, to finish this marathon.  I had no doubts that she would and made a point to check her results once they were posted on-line.  I know that one day, that will be me.

When I can no longer run, I will have the memories...and these log books. They're a permanent record of an important part of my life.  If you're not keeping a log or running diary, consider starting one now.  Your memories may fade, but ink is permanent.


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