mixing it up & welcome back, Zumba

Saturday: 3 hr hike near Government Camp

Sunday: long run (11.6 miles)

Monday: Zumba (I’ve missed it!)

Ah, I love long weekends. And I love when I don’t overplan my long weekends. This one was all about sleeping in, cooking meals (I made pancakes, people), drinking wine, hiking, reading and spending time with some good people.

I’d planned to do my long run on Saturday, but when I found out that Cheryl Strayed would be reading from Wild at a book shop near Government Camp, I took it as a sign that I should go to her reading and then go for a hike.

I spent a few hours on Hunchback Trail, aptly named for its steepness, and took some pretty pics:

hike pics

Gimme a hit of that nature.

Solo hiking is … good for me. When I start, I always feel a little unnerved and restless, even spooked. But once I get in a rhythm, I end up really enjoying it — and working out some mental sh*t that I don’t think I’d otherwise give enough time to.

I also tested out my new hiking tanks, er, boots. I typically hike in running shoes, but I’m going on a trip in the fall for which I’m told boots are sorta required. So I bought them in advance to break them in this summer.

Take a look:

hiking boots

Right, those are *my* feet, not a 6’5″ man’s feet.

If you’re well-versed in hiking boots, you probably think these look standard. For me, it’s a leap into the world of traction and ankle support and … heft? They’re not that heavy, afterall, but they took some getting used to. Kind of like having SUVs strapped to your feet. I didn’t slip or skid or trip at all, so I think their traction tires worked. ;)

On Sunday, I headed out for my 11-12 miler:

long run, orange socks

Shiny five-head! … I’d just put on sunscreen. (Go me.) And I’m wearing neon orange compression sleeves on my calves, in case that looks like a neon orange tan.

I haven’t been doing long runs, well, long enough, and so I don’t know what to expect from them. For now, I’m just happy to complete them. I have to remind myself that it really wasn’t that long ago that I’d get knee pain around mile 3.

So, it’s a victory that I can run almost 12 miles now and only experience a small, manageable amount of hip pain (that I can easily treat afterward with stretching and icing).

But … I’m sheepish to admit how slow my pace is. Like almost 2 minutes slower per mile than my tempo pace. Is that normal?

And my pace also varies wildly over the course of the long runs. I’ll look at my Garmin and be shocked that I’m going :30 slower than when I looked before, even though it feels like I’m running at least moderately consistently.

It’s odd.

Anyway, I’m trying not to sweat it too much. It’s easy to get in my head and worry about whether or not I’m making progress quickly enough, or whether or not I’m pushing myself hard enough, and then I remember that I’m doing this because I want to be a lifelong runner. Not because I want to be a lifelong racer. Not because I want to be the world’s fastest woman. And certainly not because I want to run myself into an injury.

So I’m going to be satisfied with slow and steady.

And, then, on Monday, after a much-too-long hiatus from Zumba, I took a class and Zumba’d my heart out. I have to say: I love Zumba instructors. Every one I’ve ever had (that would be three of them, ha) is so full of energy and joy and encouragement. Where else can you go where someone wearing (what amount to) neon Hammer pants shouts at you to LET YOURSELF GO and you totally, willingly obey?

I forgot how much I love it — and being surrounded by people who don’t care how awkward and silly they look.

I think all runners should have to take a Zumba class every once in a while. It reminds us to relax and not take ourselves so seriously and get swept up in the fun (without being attached to pace times and outcomes).

I’ll be back later this week with post 5 & 6 in the form series.

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