Offseason antics

It’s been three weeks since the marathon – which I can hardly believe. My next big race isn’t until early May, so training doesn’t start until mid- to late-February. And I am blissfully happy about being in the off-season. It’s been a very long year. 

So what have I been up to? Well, over Thanksgiving, it was pretty much a whole lot of nothing besides eating, lounging, visiting with my future in-laws, eating, going on an occasional walk with their dogs, and did I mention eating? We tried a run on Thanksgiving morning as sort of a must-run-on-Turkey-Day tradition, but NB was congested (I called it marathon flu. He was actually running a fever at one point) and I just… wasn’t feeling it.

The next week, I headed back to the gym: I hopped on the elliptical, I jumped back into my spin class, and of course pilates – my absolute favorite. After a week and a half of pretty much no running, I went for an “easy” run on Thursday. Too fast. Then I ran a couple more miles on Friday, also too fast.

And on Sunday, we went to a race. There was a 5K and 10K with the option to do it as 15K. Well, both courses were short (apparently a volunteer misplaced the turnaround cone for the 5K, and the 10K – well it was probably six miles on the nose, and it just wasn’t an officially measured course. Which is fine, whatever). I ran the 10K, and NB – after having pushed hard in the short 5K – paced me for the first 4.5 miles before dropping back, and helped me get some pretty rockin’ splits. My age group (they did decade AGs since it was such a small race, though I’ve recently aged up to the 25-29 group otherwise, which probably means no AG awards until I get CONSIDERABLY faster) was all bunched up so I got 5th, but it was still pretty sweet. And I won a raffle prize – Asics arm warmers. And I had just been complaining about having lost one of my arm warmers I bought last year!

Saturday, we went to the Jingle Bell 5K, which was a fun event but very poorly run. It was cute: everyone was dressed very festively, a lot of green and red, some people wearing elf or Santa or  Christmas tree (yes, people dressed as trees) costumes, and everyone had jingle bells tied to their shoes. We weren’t planning to race it, just run 8:00-8:30 pace, have some fun. It was supposed to be a certified course, but according to Elite Runners & Walkers’ facebook page, after the turnaround cone was set, the cops moved it (why???) and the lead cop (on a bike, I assume) turned onto the trail too soon. What DOESN’T make sense about that explanation are the mile markers. Mile 1 was right on the money, mile 2 was at 1.8, and there was no third mile marker. If it wasn’t screwed up from the start, what was up with the mile markers??

Another thing: we were done with the race and after some dilly-dallying talking to runners about the length of the course, we went to the food tent about 25-30 minutes after the gun went off… and the food was already pretty much gone. Bagel crumbles. Green bananas. Not much water. What the hell?

So while the race itself was charming, everything else about it was fairly terrible.

Today I tried my first body pump class. I’d been meaning to try it for a couple weeks now, but laziness and scheduling stuff put it off until now. The class started at 6:15 and I got there nice and early so I could get assistance. I asked a woman in the class what I needed, and she helped me pick out weights and get my mat and step set up. Then I made a point of walking up to the instructor and explaining I was brand new and if there was anything I should know. He checked my weights and said it was a good place to start, and to take it easy and just follow his cues. 

Well, I knew this class would kick my ass, even taking it easy, being the first one, and the fact that I haven’t been lifting that often in the last six months or so. But damn. I’m going to be in a WORLD of hurt tomorrow. Body pump is basically a group weight lifting class with high repetitions. We started with light weight and a variety of lifts to warm up. Then during each song, we’d focus on a muscle group: legs, chest, legs, triceps, more legs, biceps, even more legs, back and shoulders, some more legs, and abs. You’d get a slight respite between each song, and sometimes we’d set the weights down and shake ourselves out for a couple seconds but otherwise it was go-go-go. Near the end we were doing pushups, which I’m bad at anyway, but I was seriously almost cursing as I prayed that my completely depleted arms wouldn’t give out entirely.

After the class, the instructor gave me a generic “good work” and asked, “So was it easy?” I replied, “No, but I wasn’t expecting it to be.” He seemed to be surprised by this. An older woman in the class seemed dubious it was my first class. Apparently I look like a pro. But I”ll be walking around tomorrow like I’m crippled, so we’ll see about that. I spent a lot of time stretching and foam rolling (and almost yelping out loud in pain) to try to get a jump on it, but I’m pretty sure there’s nothing I can do.

So that’s been the first few weeks of my off-season. I’m still not feeling a strong desire to jump back into running – it’s more like a guilty feeling. “You should be running.” I think by next week, I’ll be chomping at the bit ,and I’ll ease back into a running routine, include lots of easy runs, some longer weekend runs, and some fun tempo runs and speedwork. My plan is to not skip any pilates or spin classes (unless I get stuck at work for the former and miss it) and go to body pump at least once a week (his class is M-W-F, but Wednesday conflicts with spin). If I get two more months or so off from real training, I’m going to enjoy it: work on my strength, mental toughness, and just play. 

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I'm a 35-year-old writer and runner. This is my running blog.

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