Assuming there remain any "regular" readers, I should apologize for my lack of recent posting. Part of it is that things have been pretty busy, but mostly it's due to the running malaise in which I currently find myself.
There are a few things going on, but the main problem is that I just don't feel "right" in my running. My hips have been bothering me since before the Mount Washington debacle. And, last Thursday/Friday, my lower back started to hurt for no discernible reason. The most obvious reason for this problem is the fact that I have ditched my orthotic inserts in an effort to run "naturally", thinking/assuming/hoping that I could train myself out of needing whatever pronation-correction assistance those 2.2-ounce inserts provide. In terms of other possible contributing factors, I have wondered whether the high-mileage buildup to Boston, followed by running 3 marathons in 6 weeks has essentially hamstrung my ability to go back to training the way I would like.
On July 3rd, I ran a little 5K (<200 runners) in Mid-coast Maine. From past years' results, I might have had a chance to win it, if no one really fast showed up, and I was having a good day. This year, I pegged the eventual winner just from how he looked warming up, and figured it may be a race for second place.
I had a nice long warmup on the hilly course, as the morning went from coolish and cloudy to warm, muggy and sunny in a typical Maine instant. I changed into my "fast" shoes and lined up a couple of rows from the front. Incidentally, the entire race reflected the spirit of the $5 registration fee, so the start was confusing, the course turned out to be a bit long, and the awards ceremony a bit underwhelming.
Almost immediately, I found myself in the top 20 or so runners, trying to find my pace and dealing with the automatic cottonmouth reaction I have in 5K races. By the half-mile mark, I was likely in the top 10 and took a quick swig of water from the aid station. That was all I needed to eliminate that awful dry-mouth feeling.
As expected, the leader took off and put a lot of real estate between himself and the second wave of runners. When I saw him heading back after the turnaround, he was several hundred yards ahead of the second-place pack. I was a bit behind that pack, and decided at the turnaround to move up so that I could a chance at second place. I surged a bit, passed a couple of people on an uphill and then kept the second-place guy in my sights, with two other guys running stride-for-stride with me.
The rest of the race proved a frustrating exercise, as I worked my way up to third, but could not close the gap on the second-place guy (who, frustratingly did not look especially fit, nor did he look like he was working that hard, though he did look back a lot). The two guys near me and I kept trading places, and I'd pretty much resigned myself to being 4th with about a 0.25-mile to go. The guy behind then found another gear and blew past me and the third-place guy. I ended up 5th overall in 19:39 on my watch, with no age-group awards. Last mile was the fastest, and the final 0.17 came out to an average pace of 5:38. So, it was a decent effort, and my hips never locked up, though I did feel limited in terms of my turnover when I was fighting for a better place. Overall, though, I was satisfied.
I followed the 5K with 12.25 hot hilly miles on July 4th, where the only notable incidents were the chafing by my CamelBak and the fact that some jerks in a pick-up truck slowed down to heckle me. I couldn't hear everything they said, but the phrase, "F-in' faggot" was pretty clear. I simply cannot understand what would cause anyone to hurl such hateful words at a person who's merely doing his own thing. It rattled me more than it should have, but I guess it's an unfortunate part of the rural running experience.
Last week, I managed 59 miles, but had trouble with any fast running. I had no choice but to adjust the schedule my coach provided:
- Monday - 6M easy on the trails
- Tuesday - 10M with 1.5M at tempo(-ish) pace; Heat index was over 100, so I did this run on the treadmill, which was awful in its own right
- Wednesday - 8M easy, with 8x20 secs strides
- Thursday - 7M easy
- Friday - woke up with the sore/stiff back; did 6.6+M, instead of the 9M with 10x400 at 5K race pace
- Saturday - 7+, mostly on tough, hilly, technical trails
- Sunday - 14.5+ miles; supposed to do the last 4M at current marathon pace (about 7:05), but managed 7:20 pace for 1.5M before my whole hip area protested
The next big running adventure on the calendar is this weekend's Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run. I signed up to be a volunteer pacer, meaning that I would be assigned to accompany a runner for the last 30 miles of the 100-mile undertaking. I'll post more about this separately, but suffice it to say that I now find myself assigned to an internationally accomplished female ultrarunner who's seeking to break the women's course record. In a flash of revelation, I went from fearing that I would be walking with someone for 8 or so hours, to fearing that I won't be able to keep up, despite my runner's 70-mile "head start". Oh well, we'll see how that goes. Regardless of what happens, it should be interesting, challenging, inspiring and a nice break from training and my own chronic running-related concerns.
Happy summer running, everyone. -ESG/Ron