So with my new focus this year my approach to training has had to change. If you compare my training to years past you'll see that my time spent swimming (admittedly nonexistent right now) and biking is dramatically lower than usual. I've come to realize that I'm no longer a triathlete who does marathons, but rather a runner who does triathlons. My weekly running mileage is ramping up steadily so I'm looking for new and inventive ways to get it all in, while still leaving time to do a little biking and swimming (soon, I swear).
In a moment of brilliance I realized I could traverse the 5 miles to and from work on foot. 10 mile mid-week runs are popping up on the schedule so why not do them as a commute. I eliminate 25-30 minutes of sitting in my car a day and replace it with a quality workout, effectively freeing up extra time in my day that than be put towards other workouts (or lounging in front of the TV).
I quickly worked out the logistics of it. I didn't own a backpack suitable for running with (I do now) so I had to bring work clothes, breakfast, lunch, snacks, and afternoon running clothes with me the day before I planned to run in to make sure it was all there waiting. I was sure I would forget something since it was actually a fair bit of planning, but was pleasantly surprised come commute day when the only thing I didn't have was a pair of sunglasses to run home with. No biggie.
The run to work that morning was great. It was nice and cool out at 4:45 in the morning and I made it to work without a problem. I waved hello to the morning smokers who were looking at me weird and went inside and showered and ate my ginormous breakfast. First half executed perfectly.
The run home, on the other hand was a near disaster. It started out alright. I set off on my merry way after getting more strange looks from the afternoon smokers and the gaggle of people that had congregated outside to watch emergency responders deal with a semi that had overturned while attempting to turn at a nearby intersection.
About a mile in I reach down and feel for my apartment key, which I always slip into the inside pocket of my running shorts. This is a nervous habit that I've developed over the years. While I've never had a key fall out of the pocket, it's still just a pouch with a cloth flap over it. Although the pouch of these particular pair of shorts is better constructed than others that I own. Still out of habit I feel to see if it's there every once in awhile. So I reach down and come up empty!
Crap! I stop alongside of the busy road and have a good look down my shorts to try and find it. Nothing. Well, no key that is. I assume it fell out somewhere along the way and decide to retrace my steps back to work in hope of sighting it. As I run I can think about what to do if I can't find it, something I've never really pondered before. I realize I'm actually in a better predicament than I would be if I was running a normal run. I have my phone, which I usually don't carry with me so I can call people. Not sure who that would be since I don't think locksmith's will open apartment doors without ID (I don't think my work badge counts). Also, I'm awfully close to my realtor on this side of town. I figure if I make it back to work and haven't found the key they are only another mile or so away and they may have an extra key.
I make it back to work but find nothing. As I head in the direction of the realtor (around the jackknifed semi) I start to think that the brief liner in the shorts is fairly snug and it would take some time for a key to work its way out of there and in doing so there's no way I wouldn't feel it. So I stop again (along another busy road) and shove my hand down there...um....under things. Meanwhile I'm hoping the semi serves as a distraction so no one notices my digging and count myself lucky that I'm not within a hundred yards of school because I'm pretty sure what I'm doing would be construed as illegal. Lo and behold my rummaging pays off and I find the key! I'm not really sure how I didn't feel it down there while I was running along. It doesn't matter though. I breathe a sigh of relief and continue on my way back home. My five miler turned into a little over 7, but I can't really complain about the two bonus miles.
Upon arriving home, I immediately dug out a little zippered pouch that can attach to the shoe for key stowage and tested it out over the weekend. I could feel the key flopping around inside and that bugged me so I'm investigating other option for keeping the key safe. I really don't need to repeat that experience anytime soon.
Needless to say, today's run commute went much smoother than the first. I did sleep in a bit in an attempt to miss the rain, but it started in anyway during the run with about two miles to go. I got more weird looks as I arrived sopping wet, but I'm getting used to them now. At least the run home was drier.
Despite the hiccups, the run commute is going to remain a staple of my training this year. It seems to be a very efficient way to get miles in (I was home by 4:30 today with plenty of time for other workouts). My running backpack just arrived in the mail today so I'm excited to experiment with that next week in hopes of cutting out some of the planning that goes into this. My only regret is that I didn't think of this sooner (ie. last year during IM training).