On a gloriously cool and cloudy Sunday morning (after receiving the remnants of Tropical Storm Danny), I ran with a local friend-of-a-friend, an ultrarunner who's currently training for a 50-mile race. His plan called for 28 miles. I wanted to do 12 or so. We arranged to meet up, and he showed up at my place, about 5 miles into his run, and led me up to an area across the main road from where I live (and from where "my" trails are). Ducking in behind a local church, we picked up a seemingly endless system of trails, needing only one or two road crossings in order to keep going further into what seemed like unspoiled wilderness. We did not do anything overly technical, but we did climb (according to my Garmin, which I think was wrong) about 6,000 feet. At one point, we descended into what resembled a small gorge, with a beautiful stream flowing strongly, crossed a small wooden bridge, and climbed up the other side. It was a true hidden gem in our town.
Of course, my running companion - a veteran of the Wapack Trail race - did assure me that what we did was nowhere near as challenging as what we will face next Sunday. "Great . . .," I thought to myself. Of course, with the wet terrain, I managed one nice wipeout, not due to the usual trail hazard of roots or rocks, but on a soft, muddy patch of earth which gave way when I took a turn a bit too sharply. I sort of tucked and rolled a bit, popping right back up and getting back into a groove very quickly. Other than that and a few leg scrapes from pushing through a brambly thicket, I had little trouble navigating the route, which included hurdling fallen trees, crossing a lot of streams, and dashing down a few steep descents. The combination of the new setting and the company made it one of the best training runs I can remember, and - though I knew I had to avoid overdoing it - I did not want it to end.
The total for the run (including some on-road mileage) was 14 miles in 2:26, or about 10:27 overall pace. Hopefully, I won't run much more than an hour longer than that next weekend, but - honestly, I have NO IDEA what to expect. Not getting hurt and finishing with a shred of my wits about me would be a very good day. Right now, the weather forecast looks ideal, so that's a major plus.
So, last week worked out like this:
- Monday - XT, weights and core
- Tuesday - 2.5M warm-up, 5K XC race, 2M cool-down
- Wednesday - 6M+, easy (trails)
- Thursday - 6M+, easy
- Friday - 9.75M (including 1 mile barefoot on grass)
- Saturday - 7.5M (on the trails, in a downpour - fun!)
- Sunday - 14M (mostly trails)
Total was about 52 miles for the week, with the race being my only real "quality" workout.
Deciding how to structure this week is proving challenging. I'll likely run on Monday (usual off-day) in order to take Friday off and get a little extra rest before the race. I received my Salomon XT Wings, in which I plan to race on Sunday. I've worn many Salomon trail shoes, and love them. I will of course break these in with a shorter trail run, but I don't anticipate any problems.
Also, I would like (in case anyone actually reads this) to recognize a couple of excellent race performances this weekend from fellow RWOL Sub-3:20 Forumites. My friend screaminzab smoked a 10K, running 39:07 and showing that he is in prime BQ (sub-3:10 in his case) shape. RunThruIt posted an amazing HM PR of 1:27:57, despite (or because of?) running with a non-functioning watch. It was inspiring to see them both reach new heights of performance, and I'm that much more motivated about my imminent return to higher mileage and longer-distance racing. Thanks for that gift, guys.