15 of 52: The One that (Almost) Got Away

The Weekend Started So Good

My girlfriend Katie and I had tickets to Jim Gaffigan for Friday night and then planned to drive directly from the show to Fenwick Island (which I don’t think is an actual island – but that’s what they call it). The plan was to just unplug and chill for a couple days then drive back home in time to take care of Sunday business. For me “Sunday Business” included the run because I made a deliberate choice to leave my running gear at home. I did not want even the chance of sneaking off to run 13.1 miles to enter into my mind as a possibility.

I knew this one would be hard to fit in with the schedule as it was. I did not know it would be hard to run. It wasn’t hard like physically like “I ran hard the whole way and it was tough.” It was hard like “I just got back from the beach and I’m tired and I need to start running before 7 but I just need a little nap first.” Which is exactly what happened. I laid down at 6, got up at 6:45 and started running at 7 so I could comfortably meet the 10pm Sunday deadline for this weeks run.

I mean – sometimes you gotta get away from the normal sights and sounds of your life, right? So that’s what we did – Katie and I. The uncertainty at work combined with *this bastard winter sun* really tipped it for me so off we went. To Mexico? No. I wanted to be somewhere where the Winter sun could still enter my eyelids from God knows where at any given moment regardless of where I turned my face.

Folks, I should really be living ON the equator and waking up at 8:30 every day, but for now I will just have to continue on in Maryland where the weather patterns match the design pattern of our flag and my sleep patterns follow. It’s pretty convoluted. Even if I didn’t wake up precisely 2 hours and 14.5 minutes after falling asleep *every* night, my inconsistent morning schedule would never let me get the same amount of sleep every day so I find myself in this crazy “rhythm”. Think of it like a yo-yo diet – but for sleep!

The Run

First, can I say something about heart rate training? I cannot get my body to play by the rules. I get it – there are 5 heart rate zones.

Zone 1 – This is your heart rate when you’re just hanging out, sitting on the couch watching season 2 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – but not the really funny parts – then you’re probably edging into Zone 2…

Zone 2 – Basically zone 1 plus some vigorous laughter (or if you’re into watching sports then maybe the fourth quarter and your football team can’t seem to get their puck in the other guys basket.) IDK

Zone 3 – Exercise – but take it easy sparky – we don’t want to actually sweat but we do want to be able to have a conversation with our workout buddy.

Zone 4 – Doin’ Work. Maybe. We. Can. Talk… A . Few . Words at a … time.

Zone 5 – I have no oxygen to spare. I can only keep this up if my child is trapped under a car or being chased by a pack of wolves.

Based on a test I ran a few weeks ago, here’s where my HR Zones are *supposed* to fall out:

  • Zone 1 – 0-142 bpm
  • Zone 2 – 143-154 bpm
  • Zone 3 – 155-163 bpm
  • Zone 4 – 164-174 bpm
  • Zone 5 – 175-184 bpm

Here’s my issue. I pop into zone 4 before I’m breathing heavy. Before I start sweating. Before I’m even aware that I am in fact no longer in bed dreaming about – well never mind you that – but anyways. I just think that 165 bpm is where my HR lives during easy exercise. I can stay there all day – well for a long while at least.

Here I am23 minutes in, running a moderately easy pace for me and I’m well into Zone 4? I don’t think so. Now mind you – I was also at 168bpm 10 minutes prior to this when I was running 10 m/mi pace. WTAF?!

I asked a friend about this awhile back and he said – look, as long as your heart rate settles down after a couple minutes don’t worry about it. And it does. If I walk for 60 seconds my HR drops down to 140 bpm (see above: Zone 1). I don’t get it. And it’s distracting. Especially when the treadmill is displaying a message every 30 seconds (the magic interval to absolve everyone but me from liability) that says : “Attention: Heart Rate is high!”

So I did what any reasonable person would do – I took off my heart rate strap and unpaired it from the treadmill.

As far as I can figure maybe one or two things are happening (or any gray combination of the two)

  1. I didn’t work nearly hard enough on the initial fitness test. (If you’ve been following me, you know how I am about really pushing myself.)
  2. My heart tops out closer to 250 than 190. I’m kidding. I have no clue what’s happening.

Maybe I can take one of those tests in a lab where you run your ass off and then they draw blood to see if you’re dying or not…

That big gap in my heart rate graph is not me dying and then coming back to life – it’s when I disconnected my HR strap and then I guess it started tracking the HR monitor on my watch.

Not the Run

IDK what to say here – I was consumed by the heart rate debacle for nearly my entire run so I’m a little short on reflection. I don’t like it. I mean that’s one of the reasons I run – so I can tap into the noisy space between my ears and pull out a coherent thought. Maybe next week.

Next Week: A coherent Thought?


  1. First things first “wait what your girlfriend”? Secondly, let me commend you on a 2+ hour treadmill run! Having done that a few times myself I know the mental and let’s not to leave out the physical torture one must endure well done my friend. As for your heart rate readings, disclaimer (I’m no expert and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night). Keep in mind many factor can affect your HR, (lack of sleep, lack of motivation, caffeine/lack of caffeine, music/lack of music, boredom, the weather…..) etc. That said, I plugged your numbers into my Garmin profile using your max HR and this is what it gave me (note each Zone has a Upper/Lower limit:
    Zone 1- 92-110= 50%
    Zone 2- 110-128=60%
    Zone 3 -129-147=70%
    Zone 4 -147-166=80%
    Zone 5 -166-184=90%
    Zone 6 -184=100%

    Hopefully, this helps but if you want more accurate numbers Parvilla Cycles in Edgewater now offers VO2 Max testing, Lactate Threshold and FTP testing.

    Now back to your girlfriend how did this happen? Lol

    Happy for you my friend until next time be well!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. I’ve never measured my heart rate while running and now I’m really curious what mine would be. I know it’s usually on the low side when I get doctor checkups because people taking my blood pressure always ask if I run. My garmin has a heart rate thing but I’d have to buy a separate strap to put across my chest on my runs and I’m too lazy to deal with all of that. 🙂



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