This week flew by without any regard to what I wanted to accomplish. I felt like my runs were a race against time, which was sprinting just out of reach while laughing and flipping me the bird. Most days, I laced up my shoes, took a deep breath, and hit the pavement, closing my mind to the nagging chores around the house. The kitchen is a mess, the laundry is piling up, the lawn is looking a little shaggy. And then it was over. The weekend was upon us, and we loaded the car and headed east. This past weekend was the Wettlauf 5k, part of the Jasper Strassenfest. We camped out, ran a lot, ate a little, and had a great time. I’d love to do a post about ways I balance my real life with my running life, but I’m still trying to figure that all out. Probably one day I’ll need to get up early to get my training runs in before work rather than after, but I’ll postpone that lifestyle change as long as I can.
Now here I am, Wettlauf behind me, Monday is over, and the week has kicked into high gear yet again. I already sense a looming weekend waiting to blaze past me. Here we go!
My Monday easy runs are a choice between 3 and 4 miles now. I’m glad to do 4, since I like running. Easy is nice. I bring my Garmin to track miles, not to worry about pace. So it’s a more relaxing run; I can just have a good time. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the weather has been unseasonably cool, enticing me to stay outside as long as possible, for whatever reason I can come up with.
Still running Interval A on Tuesdays for the time being. I like being able to push my self and see what I’m capable of. This was my fastest pace yet, running pretty comfortably in the 7:20 – 7:30 area during the speed portions. I never slowed down quite enough during the recovery portion; for some reason I couldn’t seem to get there, but that’s okay. I recovered well to pick it back up again in time for the next interval, so I felt good about it.
Thursdays switch between hills (Audubon trail run!) and tempo A (three miles at a consistent, comfortable push). This week was tempo, which is kinda hard. These are important runs as it is where the endurance gets built up, so I have to push through when my legs burn. There’s no recovery portion of the run until the three-minute cool down at the end. I had very nice consistency in my pace, which is good. If there’s a lot of fluctuation, I would need to consider what my pace should actually be and probably slow it down a bit to something more manageable. Thankfully I don’t need to do that. I don’t like having to slow down.
Races are typically done early in the morning, probably because if the sun is up for too long, heat really starts to be a problem. The Wettlauf 5k started at 8:00 a.m. Jasper time, which is an hour ahead. We also needed to drive 30 minutes to get there in time to register and warm up. Basically, this meant we had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. our time. We rolled out of our campsite before the sun was up. By the time we got to Jasper, it was raining and cold. Not a pleasant start to the day. The rain went away, though, and the high, positive energy of a small-town 5k became palpable. The town square filled with people ready to run their hardest. These shorter races are great because you can really go all out, since 3.1 miles is quite manageable at a fairly aggressive pace. The course was great, with gently rolling hills the whole way. It was also a packed course; quite a few people came out to run. I also think the whole town of Jasper is on the track team. They’re fast and fit! I came in at 25:36 (8:20 average pace), which is getting very close to my personal best of 24:36. I’m really hoping to be able to set a new 5k PR this year, and that’s looking pretty likely.
We stayed another night at Lincoln State Park in order to take advantage of the lovely trails with delightful history to go along with them. I needed to run 12 miles, so I decided to do that on the trails. Along the way, I passed a place where a guy named Gentry had a house and a store. It’s just a mowed lawn now. I also looped around a mill site where the area’s residents would hitch their horses to walk in circles and mill their grains. The site was frequented by none other than Abraham Lincoln, who lived in the area with his family, as the name of the park might suggest. A historical marker informed me that the very trails I was running on were once busy roads on which people would cart to and from the mill and Mr. Gentry’s store. It’s hard to not imagine what that must have been like.
At around mile 7, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to run the whole 12 miles. My energy was quickly depleting, and I was starting to get very irritated with sweat, heat, etc. I was disappointed, but I ran 8.63 miles of rolling hills in the beautiful woods, so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. I did learn something, though. I realize that running increasing miles in the challenging environment posed by trails is likely to require that I eat something while out running. I haven’t had this problem before during a training run, but I’ve not done a training run as grueling as this one was. In the coming weeks, I’m going to be experimenting with energy gels to see how that will help me when dealing with the bonk. I have a commercially made gel, but I will also make one of my own.