Sunday = speed work. Speed work is always torturous while I do it, but I always feel fantastic when I'm done, and it really does work in getting faster. But just the thought of it today was filling me with dread.
Mark's illness has really made me think about everything I do, and my attitude toward it. I've shifted my running goals for 2014 to reflect this (which I'll write about later), but I've really tried to make everything that I do enjoyable. Mark is always so positive and so happy, even though he has terminal cancer. If he can maintain such a positive attitude, I'm certainly capable of it, too. I even feel ashamed for feeling down about petty things (like speed work!).
So today, I decided that I was going to enjoy my speed work. I chose not to do intervals, and instead, I went for my first-ever fartlek run. A fartlek run is similar to intervals, but there isn't any structure to the length or duration of each interval. You might run hard to that fire hydrant, jog to the corner, run hard to the telephone pole, etc. I've been running for nearly four years, and I've never done a fartlek run!
The temp has been pretty warm here the past couple of days--today it was 34 when I headed out, which felt really nice. I wore my Garmin, just because I thought it would be fun to look at the graphs later, but I didn't set it for any sort of intervals (that would defeat the purpose of a fartlek run). I just started running one of my three-mile routes, and then started picking out small landmarks to run hard to, and then do a recovery jog to. I did some really short, really hard sprints, some at a semi-hard pace, and recovery at an easy jog. None of it was thought out ahead of time, and it wasn't at all structured.
The time went by so quickly, and I knew I'd gotten a good, tough workout. I even burned over 100 calories per mile, which hardly EVER happens! And sure enough, it was fun to see the graphs :)
The blue chart is my pace, and the red chart is my heart rate. There were a couple of super short sprints where my pace got into the 5:00's! I really enjoyed my speed work today, and I definitely plan to do fartleks more often.
I hit a big milestone halfway through my run today, too. In January, I set a goal to run 100+ miles per month, every single month this year. I did it! There were a few months where I just barely made it, but there were also a couple of months where I ran over 200 miles.
The chart shows my totals for each month. I'm running tomorrow and Tuesday, so I'm not done with December yet, but I did reach 100+ miles today, so I hit my goal.
This afternoon, I went to the nursing home to visit Mark. I stopped at KFC to get him some chicken (he requested Popeye's, but there wasn't one anywhere near there). He also asked for 7Up, so I got him that as well. Parking at the nursing home is definitely easier than at the hospital. There's only one floor, so I didn't get to run up 10 flights of stairs--darn ;)
When I walked in, Mark was sleeping, but he woke up when I set down his food. He seemed like he was doing really well--he didn't seem like he was in pain at all, and he was pretty talkative for a little while. He started physical therapy today, to hopefully gain the use of his hand (his left hand is now completely numb--he can't use it at all). He said he's going to be there for nine weeks, but I'm not sure where he got that information or how accurate it is.
Ultimately, we're hoping that he can go "home" to my parents' house under hospice care once he's done with radiation, but because we aren't family, it's not up to us. His only living relative is his nephew, who has to make all the decisions, and it doesn't sound like he wants to do that. But for now, it sounds like Mark will be at the nursing home for several weeks at least, so we'll see what happens when the time comes.
Anyway, Mark was super tired today, and after about 15 minutes of chatting, he kept dozing off. I read him some cards, but he kept falling asleep, so I kept the visit short. I got out his CD player for him so that he could listen to music while he napped (the call lights make the most annoying beeping noise throughout the entire building; I don't know how they can stand it!).
One thing that really melted my heart during our visit today was when I asked him how he wanted to spend his (what he calls) "pocket money". He got a little bit of money in a few cards, and I told him that he could tell me what he wants to spend it on, and I'll go buy it for him. He thought about it for a minute, and then he said he wanted to buy pizza, cake, and ice cream for all the people that live in his group home (where he lived for so long, before going into the hospital). Isn't that so sweet?!
I was going through some pictures yesterday, and I found a really nice one of Mark from a couple of years ago. This was at my parents' house for his birthday:
Cancer just sucks. It always seems to affect the most kind, caring people.