Friday, September 26, 2008

Running is for the Birds

I was leaving the track workout Wednesday night, riding my mountain bike through Mine Falls as it was getting dark and crossing over one of the small walking bridges, when I suddenly saw one of these blue herons perched on the side of the bridge at my eye level and just a couple of feet from my face. I was as startled as it and when it started to lift its big wings to fly I wondered if it would crash right into my head. He veered to the left however and back out of sight behind me.

I continue to do the resistance stretching before each run. I usually just use the Dara Torres 20 minute workout from the DVD and add a few other stretches. Tuesday I had too much energy to burn and then just a couple of minutes into my run I saw a guy on a mountain bike with a car riding the same speed behind him up ahead going up a small 200 yard incline. I decided to chase and see if I could catch the bike and car. Just at the crest of the hill I did and then they pulled away on the descent. I don't think they noticed me, but it has been awhile since I tried to race after a bike, so that was an interesting feeling. That set the tone for the workout and I kept trying to force myself to slow down (when was the last time I had to worry about that?) but still ran a fast workout. I was about 30 seconds off my best time on that route this year. Wednesday night my legs were not as fresh, but still OK. I ran 5 miles on the track in 31:45 which is 1:15 faster than the same workout just a month ago. Running that distance on the track is mind numbing, but afterwards it feels good to have done the workout. Our workouts come from the mind of coach Dave Dunham. I have never had a coach ask us to do that much distance for a track workout, but Dunham knows his stuff so if he is bold enough to have us try it, we can be bold enough to do it. Even though it was not a race it probably was a better run and time than any race I have done this year, but it has been a pretty bad racing year!

Yesterday I did my 8 miler again, but I needed more loosening up before the run. My left quad was really tight and it was jamming up my hip. I stumbled a few times when it caused my hip to give way. I kept it at a light pace but ran 13 minutes slower than Tuesday for one of my slowest times of the year! I expected to see some of these Turkey Buzzards that have been out and around recently taking an interest in my slow pace.

Next Saturday, I have the Applefest Half-Marathon in neighboring Hollis. The Applefest and the Falmouth Road Race are the two races I enjoy doing the most. Because I am not it the shape I expected to be in this year I am trying to tell myself not to start the race like I usually do. I like to start the race fast and go hard for the first half where it is mostly downhill and then try to hang on to my position once the race hits the hills. I have had some great races at Applefest with this strategy in the past, even though some teammates get on my case about it! Here is a picture of the start in 1999 (see I think I am running a 5k!). I am #519 next to eventual race winner Dave Parsel(in black). He runs the race every year and next year I am back in his age group which is not a good thing if you want to win the age group and get a big basket of fruit. If you don't mind finishing 2nd or 3rd in your age group you get a Mile High Apple Pie. I like the pies!

I basically treat the race as a 3 miler, then a 5 miler, then a 7 miler, then just try to hang on as best as I can. I don't think I am even in shape enough to try that tactic this year and may try an even paced race. But which pace to try? Up until recently I would have been happy to just break 1:30 for the race. Now, if I continue to feel good, I may be able to go faster than that. I wish I had a few more weeks to prepare, but at least I am more optimistic about the race than when I was completely dreading running it just a few weeks ago!

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