Wanted to run tonight after work. The weather was perfect, the perfect running temperature, the sun was shining. I had been looking forward to it all day, all the dreary long work-a-day work day.

I wanted to stay downtown, so I knew I was running the Waterfront loop. I couldn’t decide how far to run. I had planned on 4 miles, a couple of days ago. I knew that once around, from my starting point at SW Columbia and back to that starting point (I know the exact seam in the sidewalk that is my starting and finish line) was 2.87 miles, as near as I can measure in Google Earth. So I knew that once around was not long enough. I had to extend it somehow.

I knew that tomorrow I would be running my 7.5 mile loop, in my neighborhood. So twice around seemed a bit too long. My crazy double-figure-8 loop was, what, 4.7 miles? That would be good. But, y’know, I’ve already run that loop this week. I could just add the back-and-forth across the Hawthorne Bridge at the end, but that only makes 3.5 miles, give or take.

So. Twice around it was.

Used my inhaler, good ol’ albuterol. Wore short sleeves, shorts, my Adidas, my lucky hat, my watch. Queued up the nano to Foo Fighters, again. Stretched out. And decided I would push myself this time, keep a faster pace. I also set the goal of aiming for a faster second half – negative splits. Hoped I didn’t get interrupted by any bridge openings – that’s the suck.

About a mile into it, I shifted to a stride where I lifted my knees more than I had been. I’d been doing this slow shuffle, hardly lifting my feet at all. But when I tried raising my knees on the up stroke, it felt… easier. Thinking about it, I think that I was using more muscles to do the same work of propelling myself along, which made it seem easier. I kept going fairly brisk (but not race-pace) for a very long time without slowing or breaking stride to walk at all, for the first 44 minutes, which felt amazing to me after having been so slow these past weeks. And after a brief (30 seconds – I timed it) walking recovery, I was able to continue on again at the same pace.

The best part is I started doing that stride because my heel started hurting again, and lifting my knees caused me to strike more towards my forefoot, which seemed to ease the pain of my heel.

My first half I did in 28:17.99 (9:51.6 pace), my second half I did in 29:27.0 (10:15.7 pace), for an average of 10:03.7 pace, which feels pretty good for that distance (5.74 miles total). I know I can do better, but that’s a good recent pace for that distance.

I’ll do the heat/ice treatment tonight, and again in the morning before I run, and definitely afterward, but I’m betting that my new stride will have another positive effect on my heel pain. Here’s hoping.