"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt
Believe it or not, I hadn't decided what to run until I was at the end of the driveway this morning. Although it's only the 2nd week of the cycle, it seems like the 3rd. I'm not really tired, it's just a general sense of apathy I get when I'm overreaching just a bit. I had run 6, 8, and 9 miles over the past three Sunday's and because I'm planning to race the Merrimack Rivah 10 Miler next weekend I was in a little bit of a quandary as to what to run today? I'm neither interested nor physically capable of pounding out the miles week after week. That's why I decided to cut back today and run our family favorite, the Donkey Hill loop. This just shy of 10k loop (6.04 miles), rolls over the mostly hilly terrain of Strafford passing a pen of donkey's (and goats too) for which the loop is named. Either direction you run it you've got to finish uphill. I decided to run it clockwise today for no other reason than I ran it counterclockwise the last time. This would mean the run would finish with a gentle 2+ mile climb. For the past few long runs I've made an effort to run them just a little quicker than my 25k pace target of 7:15's. Without a real pace plan today I decided to take advantage of the dry weather (see last Sunday's post) and see how I felt. As has been typical since the beginning of the year my left AT is a little cranky for the first few minutes and then graciously warms up. When I reached "Donkey Hill" (the first significant climb) I felt really strong as I powered up the ascent. Turning onto Jodi Lane I felt like I was easily running well under 10k race pace, then it happened. Buddy. I hadn't noticed him there before. This male lab mix decided I looked much more entertaining than the kids he was playing with in the driveway. He had an "Invisible Fence" collar on but ran right out in the road barking at me. I stopped, like I always do. He stopped, like they usually do. The faceoff lasted about 30 seconds before his owner finally came out to grab him. She actually looked at me like it was my fault. I thanked her (for some strange reason) and continued on trying to regain the pace I had set early on. No less than 5 minutes after meeting up with Buddy I began the final 2+ mile climb of the run. As luck would have it the wind was directly at me. I tried to settle into what I felt was sub 7:00 min/mile pace and try not to let the climbs crush me. When I finally spied my watch I noticed I was just under 33:00 with a little less than a mile to go. Hammering the final climb and turn onto the home stretch I thought for a moment that a sub 36:00 minute loop was a possibility...the fastest I had ever run in this direction! Reaching the driveway I stopped my watch at 36:44. Indeed the fastest time I had looped Donkey (6:05's) and easily my PB at almost the 10k distance (previous PB at 10k was 6:24's). With one week left in the cycle and the Merrimack Rivah 10 Miler due next weekend I'm feeling very good about my running-specific fitness at this time. Now I've just got to find a way to get in my kayak in the next few weeks to prep for the Upper Ashuelot Kayak Race at the beginning of May. The joys of a multi-sport endurance athlete!
"Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction." - William James