Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Intervals for Lunch

Timing, as they say, is everything. Yesterday morning, my leg jittered up and down in our kitchen while I hammered away at my lap top. I eyed the clock every now and again as it crept closer to 12:00 and had to catch the drop of adrenaline that came as it got closer. I tugged at the sides of my knit hat and ran my hands over the stubble that, for a Tuesday morning, should not have been there. If only my co-workers could see me now, I thought massaging my bare legs.

No, I hadn’t replaced “casual Friday” with “pantless Tuesday.” Somewhere in between finalizing a report and hopping on a conference call, I had a lunchtime run on the day’s to-do list.

It’s not often that I swap eating time for running time midday, but with Caps tickets in the evening, a general urge to catch some extra sleep, and an open calendar from 12-1, I decided to send myself an Outlook appointment and block that time to rip off some intervals.

Similar to running in the morning, I suffer from a bit of nervous anxiety when some unforeseen event disrupts the routine. I think it’s the same reason my dog and I get along so well. With my wife on work travel, we spend our days living out one another’s routine. In fact, I think we both mark our day by her bathroom breaks and eating schedule.

Anyhow, even though I’m getting my eight hours in for the day, there’s something guilty about running at lunch. It could be the break in toil, knowing that my coworkers are still suited up (in the dress shirt and tie sense). It could be doing what I consider “fun” during the work day. Whatever the reason, I have to convince myself that it’s ok to duck out at lunch if the opportunity presents itself.

I glanced out the window one last time: a bright blue sky without a cloud in sight. I checked the thermometer on my desktop and noted the description, “abundant sunshine.” All that skepticism abruptly burned off by those “abundant” rays. I laced up my racers and stepped outside, letting go an audible sigh. Not one laced with sarcasm or frustration. Rather, it was the pure freedom as the sun hit my face.

I started my slow warm up jog and tossed a wave at one of my neighbors. I have a job, I swear. I wanted to say.

I stayed in my neighborhood to avoid any stops due to red lights or intersections. The plan called for 6x1K with 10 minutes easy on either side of the workout. I was determined to execute this one evenly as my last few interval workouts have started with the promise of fast running only to burn out down the final stretch, leaving me in a wheezing, ragged heap, wondering if I remembered how to do this.

This time, I looked at the first two and thought they seemed slow despite the effort. When my watch chirped to start the third, I roared on, feeling my feet turnover quickly, my arms pumping evenly, and my breathing measured and smooth. I looked down at the watch and clicked it, throwing a little fist pump: 10 seconds faster than the first two. And the remaining three hovered around that pace.

After the sixth interval, I slowed and checked my watch: plenty of time to spare. I relished the cool down back to my house, sipping on my water bottle, and feeling the sweat cool on my neck and cheeks.

When I returned to the house, I indulged in a shower then checked e-mail while I made lunch. It was back to work, just where I’d left it. But instead of being lethargic and tired as the morning switched to afternoon, I felt energized and ready to seize the rest of the work day.

Sometimes it’s nice to take a slice of the day for yourself.

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