My unscheduled vacation was rudely interrupted by a new job last week. I have to say that I was enjoying my lack of responsibilities. I wasn't completely idle, but I did enjoy sleeping in, exercising, catching up with my Tivo backlog, and spending time with my family. Now I have to work all of that stuff in around a regular job again.
So far work has consisted of reading hundreds of pages of documentation. If that sounds boring, it's because it is. But it's what I do for a living. I read specifications and then try to figure out whether or not the chip designers correctly implemented them. In other words, I try to get the chips to do things that they aren't supposed to do. I break them. I haven't broken anything yet, but I'm getting the feeling that I'll be able to pretty quickly as soon as I get oriented and up to speed.
I'm also making good progress on my marathon training. I ran a little over 15 miles on Sunday. Unfortunately, I slept in again so I once again ran it in 90+ degree heat. I felt pretty good, but for the first time ever my German Shepherd Dog declared, "No mas!" and laid down while we were taking a walk break. His paws looked okay so I was worried that he was suffering from heat exhaustion even though I was giving him regular breaks in the lake. After a little break he got back up but he was still a little unsteady so we mostly walked the last couple of miles. We took yesterday off as a rest day but he was still a little stiff this morning so we kept the pace slow and only ran a few miles.
If you've never run a marathon, the most important part of the training is the long run. Once a week you do an extended run at an easy pace that is farther than the runs you normally do. Before you consider running a marathon you should first be able to run 10 miles on your long run. For the marathon you extend your long run by a mile every week until you work up to long runs of about 20 miles. If you can complete a 20 mile long run during training then you should be able to complete the marathon. Once you get up to 14 or 15 miles on your long run then you give your a body a break every other week and cut the distance of the long run in half. That's the basic idea although races, injuries, and other things have a way of rearranging the best of plans.
Last year, every time I increased the distance of my long run it represented a personal milestone because it meant that I was running further than I'd ever run before. My body had never had to deal with moving continuously for several hours and by the end of the run I was usually physically drained. By the time I'd driven home I could barely move and I'd hobble upstairs where I'd ease into a tub of cold water and then dump 5 gallons of ice around my aching legs. After that I'd usually fall into bed and sleep for several hours.
So far, this year has been very different. I feel remarkably good! I haven't felt the need for any ice baths. I haven't been very stiff immediately after the runs. I've had little soreness during the week. And most importantly I haven't had any injuries. Part of this could be that the heat has kept me running slowly and walking quite a bit. But I think the biggest part is that I've done it before and my body isn't as shocked by the experience as it was last year. Even though I hadn't done any really long runs since February's marathon, it's all coming back pretty easily this year.
My first race is a 10k (6.2 miles) on October 1 and then I'll have another race about every 3 weeks until the Austin Marathon in February. It probably sounds strange, but I'm really looking forward to the experience again this year. Improving my times will be nice, but the biggest reward is setting a challenging goal and completing it.