Monday, August 24, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing?

I love to run on trails. When the ground is snow-free, I do 2 trail runs almost every week, mostly at a slow pace, enjoying the scenery, looking and listening for wildlife and trying not to twist an ankle or break my neck. I've wanted to do a longer trail race for some time, having done a couple of off-road 5Ks. So, I've taken a bit of a leap, and have signed up for the Wapack Trail Race, a rugged 17.5-mile out-&-back race which climbs several small mountains and which - according to veterans of the event - should take about the same amount of time as a fast road marathon. Although my overall weekly mileage has been consistently in the mid-50's, I have done only a few runs of over two hours since May. So, with that in mind, I'm planning to go out "easy" during Wapack, probably power-hike the steepest uphills and try to run the return stretch a little faster than the going out. I'm just hoping that once I'm done, my love for trail running remains, and that the experience doesn't break me.

Last week was a pretty straightforward running week, as follows:
  • Monday - XT, strength (heavier weights than usual), core & stretching
  • Tuesday - 8M at noontime at about 8:25 average pace on one of the hottest days of the year (good run, considering)
  • Wednesday - A little under 7 miles, with a track workout of 2x800, 4x400 and 3x200 (ran out of time to do more); had a little trouble hitting goal paces early on (it was an early-AM run), but settled in after a bit; my HR monitor died, and does not appear to be coming back to life
  • Thursday - 7 miles easy, including a couple of trail miles & a barefoot mile on a grassy field
  • Friday - 10.3 miles at a steady pace, averaging about 8:30/mile
  • Saturday - 6.2 trail miles, very sloppy & slippery (and thus quite fun) thanks to heavy rains
  • Sunday - 15 hot & hilly miles, 8:35 average pace

Total was a bit under 55 miles, with which I'm pretty happy. Despite feeling like I'm "undertraining" in terms of marathon preparation, I've never before had as long a period of 50+-mile weeks as I have since recovering from my spring marathon. It should make ratcheting up the mileage in advance of the pacing/ultra-run gig relatively manageable, especially as I lengthen my Sunday runs again. Add in the cooler temps which will inevitably arrive, and fall training should be productive.

One notable incident from Sunday's long run was the extremely disturbing graffiti painted on a bike path/foot bridge over a local pod, which I encountered at about mile 13 of my run. Scrawled cross the ground in blood red spray paint, the first image I saw was large swastika. Along with several vulgar statements, it contained not-so-veiled politically-oriented threats, such as "There will be blood" and "Live Free or Die, M'fer" (a slight variation on our poetic state motto). Amazingly, as I approached that bridge, I was listening to a segment from Bill Maher's show about the vitriol of Health Care Reform debate and the disconnect between people who have health insurance (and thus have been vociferously expressing their contempt for any type of reform) and those who queue up for 8 hours to get free attention from mobile health units. The latter group is peaceful and hopeful. The former group has somehow conflated health care reform efforts with Nazism, fueled in part by a shameful campaign of misinformation, and somehow have turned Presidential town-hall-type meetings into referenda on the validity of the Second Amendment. I can't do anything about the bigger issues, but I did call in to report the graffiti to the local police.

I will be racing a XC 5K to benefit a local high school XC team on Tuesday night. Last year, I ran that race for the first time, coming off my back injury/sciatica, in around 23:30. I hope to be near 21:00 minutes this year, and contend for an age-group award.

Finally, on a happier note, I recorded and watched a fair amount of the World Track & Field Championships. There were some stellar and inspirational performances, the usual share of controversy, the excitement which is Usain Bolt and the inevitable disappointments (such as the US 4x100 relay teams' continuing inability pass the baton successfully during qualifying heats). It was extremely enjoyable to have a week's worth of running to watch, even if the Versus network's coverage is mediocre, and the overarching focus on US performances result in minimizing (or omitting completely) other worthwhile stories.


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