Couch to 5K: Week 4… kind of

Right. So. Couch to 5K. That was going well, wasn’t it? Weeks One, Two, and Three went along swimmingly, and I was seeing results as I tried to fix my gait.

So what happened?

I could say “Cleveland happened,” because it did – I spent last week (Sunday through Friday) in Cleveland, Ohio at the Society of American Archivists conference, which seems like it could be a good excuse. However, I totally nailed Days 1 and 2 of Week 4 while in Cleveland (I’ll elaborate below), so that’s not it.

What then? Two things: 1) bloody great blisters, and 2) dodgy knee acting up again. Those coupled to totally destroy not only the final installment of Week 4, but also two (2) races planned for this past weekend. Sigh.

Before we get to my tales of woe, let’s see how the good parts of running went last week, shall we?

Week 4, Day 1

I was concerned about how I’d carry on with C25K while in Cleveland… I really wanted to run around the city and explore, but I never really feel comfortable running in new-to-me places by myself, especially not at night, which is when most of my free time would be. So I decided to try out my hotel’s fitness center, something I’ve meant to do in the past but had never gotten around to doing. My plan was to treadmill it in the hotel either Sunday night after I landed or Monday night, and then try to get out for an early(ish) morning run on Wednesday, the one day I actually had some free(ish) time during daylight hours.

Well, I arrived at the hotel around 7:30pm on Sunday, exhausted from traveling and so, so hungry… except all the restaurants I could find downtown were closed. I had to settle with a handful of snacks from the hotel lobby, and was in no mood to run. Monday it would have to be.

Monday dawned wicked early after a night of terrible sleep, and I spent all day sat in a workshop learning about how to code finding aids with EAD. Riveting stuff. I had a little adventure trying to figure out the public transport to get back to my hotel, and when I finally arrived, I just wanted to collapse in bed for the rest of the night. Well… and eat an actual meal first. My roommate and I went out for some yummy rice bowls, and THEN all I wanted to do was collapse in bed for the rest of the night.

But I didn’t!

Maybe it was because of a strangely intense desire to use a hotel fitness center for the first time ever, or maybe it was because I wanted to burn off some of the massive rice bowl I had just eaten, or maybe it was because the structure of C25K was exactly what I needed and I felt motivated… whatever the reason, I just felt like I needed to run. So as my roommate got cozy in bed with a book and said she’d babysit my Blerch, I got changed and went for a run.

photo(9)The fitness center was really nice – 3 treadmills, some free weights, an elliptical, and a stationary bike or two, all in a clean, airy room with towels and water. I don’t know what I was expecting, but this one exceeded whatever questionable expectations I had. There was another person in there, otherwise I would have taken pictures of the whole room… and better pictures of me running to prove I was actually doing it… but alas.

C25K jumped up to jogs of 3:00 and 5:00 this week, and I totally killed it. Killed. It. My form felt right (and looked right (I think?) whenever I sneaked glances of myself in the mirror) and I banged out the 5:00 ones feeling like I could run forever. It was awesome. I wasn’t using Simon because I don’t have the treadmill adaptor thingie for him, and C25K had no idea what I was doing because I was on a treadmill, so I don’t know my pace, but it looks like I traveled a little shy of 2 miles according to the treadmill:

photo(10)The only thing that wasn’t good about this run was the way my feet were hitting the belt. No matter what adjustments I made, I kept landing on my forefoot, like on my toes, and couldn’t get myself to land normally (well, “normally” for me is heel-striking, so do with that what you will). My run felt so great that it didn’t seem like a huge problem at the time – just a little weird – but my calves were SO angry for the next few days.

…And it probably didn’t help that I didn’t stretch afterward either… oops. *ashamed face*

Week 4, Day 2

I was determined to run around Cleveland this week, in spite of the insane humidity and higher-than-ideal heat (though, to be fair, it was significantly cooler in Cleveland than back home this week!). Though Wednesday was my one day to sleep in if I so chose, I decided to get up early(ish) to fit in a run before it got too hot:

photo(1)My hotel was just a few blocks south of such sights as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so I planned my route to go by some of the cool places on offer, like said Rock Hall:

photo(11)…and Voinovich Park, which offered a pretty view of downtown:

photo(13)…and a gratuitous selfie to prove that I was, in fact, there:

photo(12)The first half of my run wasn’t too bad… it was way more humid than I would have liked, and I was cursing the long-sleeved shirt I was wearing (chosen in order to protect my still-raw newest tattoo, which can’t be exposed to the sun or have sunblock on it) which, contrary to its name, didn’t keep me very cool at all (thanks a lot, Adidas ClimaCool…).

However, after cruising along more-or-less happily down to the Rock Hall and by Lake Erie, the Science Museum, and First Energy Stadium (home of the Browns), I realized that I had to run uphill to get back to downtown. And I was struggling pretty intensely because of the humidity. I think I actually swore out loud at my C25K app when it told me to run for 5:00!

I paused the app while I waited for the lights to change at an intersection, and I was so grateful for the break; I was not having a good time. I was considering giving up and just walking the rest of the way back to my hotel when I spotted this out of the corner of my eye:


(Apologies for the terrible lighting in this picture!)

…a statue of Jesse Owens in the cute little Fort Huntington Park. How’s that for serendipitous?! Turns out he was a Cleveland native in addition to being all kinds of awesome. Feeling inspired, I restarted my app and ran the rest of the workout… slower than recent workouts, but I still ran it! (Thanks, Jesse!)

Though incomplete because Simon had a hard time finding a signal among the skyscrapers and I was too impatient to wait, you can see from the graph in the data how much more I struggled compared to during recent workouts:

wk4day2Week 4, Day 3

This is where I would have written about the fun 80s-themed 5K that Julie and I were going to run together (maybe along with our C25K apps?) the Friday I got back from Cleveland, but alas. One thing we didn’t consider when we signed up for this race was Friday afternoon traffic heading north to the beaches and NH/Maine from Boston… traffic we would be sitting in for hours to get to this race, which was by the beach in Salisbury. Yup.

Julie texted me while I was still in Cleveland to point this out, along with the fact that it was supposed to be wicked rainy that day. Had it been nice weather, we could have just tried to go up early to beat the traffic and then shook out our car-tired legs with a walk on the beach or what have you. Instead, we would have had to huddle somewhere, likely the car, until the start of the race, and then run in the rain. It didn’t sound pleasant, especially as Julie had an epic bike ride planned for the next day. So we opted to DNS. (I know, I know.)

Julie had spotted another fun-sounding race for that Sunday and,Β being awesome, offered to pay my registration fee. We decided to go for it… and then The Attack of the Killer Blisters happened.

hofSee those sandals I’m wearing in that picture, readers? They’re basically flip flops that are slightly fancy and have a little wedge. I’ve worn them before and they were super comfortable, and I chose them to wear at the conference reception for that very reason. And then they turned on me. It felt like tiny needles were poking into my big toes, and I was practically lame the entire night. Somehow I walked the several blocks back to my hotel (the wine I gulped may have helped ease the pain a bit), but woke up the next morning with giant, Run Fatboy Run-style blisters on each toe.

I was so relieved that I didn’t have to run a race Friday night, because I could barely walk. And then I was gimpy all day Saturday too, and still in significant pain that night. I texted Julie to wimp out of the next morning’s race, which I felt terrible about. But – here’s the rub, readers – I’m going on vacation very soon, one that will involve much walking, and I did not want to make my feet an even worse mess by running on painful blisters. Alas.

Did I mention my dodgy knee too? Yeah, so, that happened. I was walking to the T after work on Monday and my right knee got so painful out of nowhere that I started limping. It was doing so well!! I may have to blame all the sitting I did at the conference, along with plane rides and general lack of activity over the weekend as I recovered from conferencing. I’m just hoping it will be okay during said vacation… cross your fingers for me!

How’s your training going?

Ever been attacked by giant blisters?


10 thoughts on “Couch to 5K: Week 4… kind of

  1. Such a solid start to the week! I’m impressed by all you did while traveling. I hope your knee pain on Monday was just a fluke and vanishes just as quickly and mysteriously as it appeared.

    PS I got on the hold list for Girl on the Train after reading your post ages ago, and it just became available! Woop!

    • Thanks! I’m pretty impressed that I ran so much while traveling too. My knee seems to have calmed down… fingers crossed it stays calm!

      Have you finished Girl on the Train since you commented? What did you think?

  2. Great motivation … The statue.
    My training (week 3) was going well until I got hit by severe traveller’s diahrrea. I haven’t been able to eat much for 4 days and need to stay close to the toilet so running is on hold. But as soon as my stomach settles I will be back into it because I was enjoying the feeling of fitness. And I will probably be a little lighter (from being unable to hold food down) so easier to run πŸ˜‰

  3. Ouch! I hate blisters, sandals are usually the worst culprit for me. I hope they heal quickly! And sorry to hear about your knee! Sounds like it was a fun trip though! Outside of the coding, that sounds troublesome. Great pictures!

    • The blisters healed pretty quickly after I posted, thankfully… they were brutal! The trip was pretty fun, and even the coding wasn’t too bad… but I’m a nerd, so I’m sure that helped πŸ˜‰

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