This was my last full week in Denmark, and over the course of the week I managed my usual three runs. I can definitely feel the lack of strength in my upper body and I’m very much looking forward to returning to the gym soon. I’m ready to get back on track. My running, though, has felt strong.
My first run of the week was on Tuesday morning before work. I woke up with a sore right hip, the same place that tends to give my problems during some long runs. I’ve been keeping track of my water intake (more than 2L per day), but that morning I felt dehydrated. I started the 5k around 7am and felt uncomfortable from the start. My stomach was upset and my mouth was dry. Just three minutes in, I wanted to be done. After a mile I felt like I was running pretty fast, so I decided to push the pace and deal with the discomfort. I didn’t want to “waste” the first mile of potentially fast running. The whole time I was wondering to myself whether I really was running fast, or if it just felt fast because I wasn’t in good shape. Well, it turns out the run was fast. I finished the 5k in 26:42, a new workout PR. I was happy to have run so fast, but that workout left me drained and a little shaky at work that day. I still need to figure out if this is due to a lack of something in my diet: calories in general or some particular constituent.
I planned my next run for Thursday morning, but I couldn’t stomach dinner on Wednesday night so I rescheduled for Friday. By Friday I was feeling much better and I set out for another 5k run. From the start my quads were very tired. I suppose this was left over from the hard run on Tuesday. I wasn’t feeling great, so I was happy to have some company a half mile into my run. A couple of runners came up behind me from a side street, and I pushed the pace just a little to see if I could keep them from passing. I was happy to have something to take my mind off the solo run. I held out for almost a mile before they passed. Again I felt dehydrated and uncomfortable. I felt like I was moving well again and I hoped the time would reflect this. Sure enough, I finished another 5k in 27:03.
On Saturday I spent the day traveling around Roskilde, the old Viking city west of Copenhagen. I did a good bit of walking and my legs were very tired by the end of the day. I experienced the same thing last week, so I wasn’t too concerned about my long run the next day.
The long run I planned for Sunday was in many ways different from my previous long runs. For a start, I ran along the coast north of the city rather than in the city center. I also took the train at the start of my run for a couple of reasons. First, the public transport is less dense outside the downtown area so I was not certain I would find an appropriate bus stop at the end of my run. Second, I wanted to have access to water and warm clothes as soon after my run as possible. Last week I had a long, cold bus ride home at the end of my run and my legs became very stiff during that ride. This time I would simply run home. This plan required a straightforward route so there would be no chance that I would get lost on the way. Just in case, though, I made sure to run with my travel pass and 150 dkk (about $25).
Everything seemed set for an amazing run. The sun was shining and I was feeling good. I caught the 9:33 train from the nearby station and rode to Skodsborg Station. From the outset, the view was stunning: the water was shimmering and the grass was amazingly green. There was little breeze and the weather was warm without being hot.
I ran along the same street the entire time, keeping the water in sight to my left to make sure I didn’t get lost. At the beginning the route alternated between neighborhoods and parks, like the two pictures below (from Google Street View). The sun was high in the sky and there was very little shade. I felt a little slow, but I just focused on moving forward. The houses that lined the street were really beautiful and I’m sure they must have cost a fortune. Each house had its own little gated pathway down to the water below. I also saw a number of cyclists on this portion of the run: at least one hundred by my estimates.
After three miles of running, I felt a strong desire to stop. By mile four I had reached the open highway with no shade whatsoever (see photo below). It was much warmer than I had expected, probably fifteen degrees warmer than it had been during my recent runs. I was also running faster than I wanted, but I had a hard time slowing down. Running at the faster pace felt more natural than my slower shuffe-run. My heart rate was pushing 180 and I was really uncomfortable. When I finally reached some shade 5.5 miles in, I stopped for a minute to catch my breath. I let my heart rate drop to 135 before I started a slow shuffle towards home. Before long I found myself in town again (see photo). I knew I was close to home. I was feeling a little better after the break, but I could feel the discomfort coming back. I reached home in exactly seven miles and decided to call it quits. I could have kept running, but I was not in the mood. The (relative) heat and lack of shade had made the run harder than I had expected. In total, I ran the 7 miles in 1:08:43. Just one year ago I was consistently running this same pace, but for my 5k runs.
I had a number of fast runs this week, and for that I am grateful. They didn’t come easy, but I did it. Hopefully next week I can tone it down and enjoy my runs a little more. With the travel and time change, next week might be a good opportunity to relax a bit. This time next week I’ll be back in the States. Home sweet home, here I come.