This week the weather has been crazy. I had to run in the afternoons on Wednesday and Friday because of being on the early shift all week. We had a warm spell and I felt really sluggish on my shorter runs because of the warm temperatures and humidity. On Friday I stopped every 15 minutes for a drink, and I only ran about 6 km. It was in the low 20s C (70s F), but it felt much hotter because most of my route was in the sun. Because of the humidity, it felt like I was running through Jell-O. I was also slower than usual, but that's to be expected when the mercury rises.
Today it was about 5 C (41 F) and had rained earlier in the morning. Since it was threatening to rain again, I wore my rain suit over a pair of lightweight tights and a long-sleeved technical shirt. What's the best way to insure that it won't rain during a long run? Wear a rain suit. I spent most of my run wishing that I had left the suit at home. My Gore-Tex suit is great for keeping me dry, but I bake in it. It has been a very trusty running suit though. I bought it at half price just before moving to Germany in 1992. It was on the 50% off rack because it was the previous year's model. A couple of the pocket zippers no longer work, and the Velcro on the jacket's wrists has been sewn back on a couple of times. In addition to wearing it in the rain, it's also my winter running suit. Needless to say, the jacket has been used a lot over here. I mainly wear the pants in either very cold weather or rain.
Today's run of 1:40 was a good one. I'm right where I want to be at this point before the Munich City Run half-marathon (26 June). The calf problems that plagued me earlier this year have disappeared. It was an almost perfect run. I started slowly and picked up the pace as the run went on. My finish was fast. It's always fun to end a run with a short sprint and my late running partner Bill's voice in my ear saying, "Let's practice our half-marathon finish" and "Are you going to let an old man beat you?" When I finished in my driveway, I could almost feel one of Bill's post-run hugs. He always gave hugs to the women in our group after a long training run. My right knee is bothering me a little bit. But I'll put some ice on it and it should feel fine again.
One of the tricks that I learned from Bill is breaking up long runs into smaller segments. Bill used to say that a marathon was not one 26-mile run. It was really running 1 mile 26 times. For those readers who use the metric system, it would be running 1 kilometer 42 times. I do that trick with my long runs. Instead of saying that I'm going to run 50 minutes out and then 50 back, I break up my runs into segments. There are certain landmarks that I use for my checkpoints. The checkpoints are between 3 and 10 minutes apart. That system really helps on the return leg of a long run, when my legs are tired and starting to feel like they're made of lead instead of bone and muscle. Instead of thinking that I have 43 more minutes to go, I tell myself that it's only 6 minutes until I cross the main road, between 6 and 7 minutes until I re-cross the main road and go through part of the town of Grainau, then about 9 minutes from there to the Aldi market, then 4 minutes until the turn onto the road that takes me to the bike trail that leads back home. Even the bike trail is broken up into segments because partway through I have to cross a small road. The road is a natural checkpoint.
This next week is also supposed to be another strange one. It will start off cool and rainy and will end sunny and warm. The Alps are definitely not Southern California, where the weather is usually warm and doesn't change much. At least I'll be back on my normal work schedule this week and will be able to run in the mornings when it's nice and cool. Next week's long run will be another one at 1:40.