With very little to no running going on, there's been very little to nothing to report on. Following my latest calf strain, I took two full weeks off. (Fifteen days actually.) No running. Just a lot of icing and self-messaging. That time off brought the total to 68 off out of the last 122 days. Not a very good percentage.
Thankfully, I was able to resume some light running on July 18, but I wasn't particularly motivated. Strange, as you wold have thought I would be chomping at the bit to get back at it. I wasn't. I was disinterested in running. This feeling had me more worried than ay of my previous injuries. But, the more I thought about it, I realized that I wasn't disinterested in running, I was disinterested in the short, boring, road loops I was somewhat forced into running. I was mentally ready to get back to the real thing but was physically stuck with the 3-mile road circuits of Patriot Commons and the Suck Loop. Blah. Juggling family and work, it can be tricky to get our runs in, and I wasn't interested in putting in the mental energy to figure out the scheduling. As such, I only managed 9 miles that first week back. The second week back was more of the same, although I did up the mileage a bit to a whopping 19.25. And, I can't say I felt particularly frisky on any of those runs.
This past weekend, we took a short vacation to Baxter State Park. The change of scenery was exactly what I needed. While I didn't get out for a super, groovy run on the AT like D, I did get in some fun runs of my own. I knew going in that I would probably run more than I should, but in such a stellar location it's hard not to. I did keep myself in check, by not tackling any major mountain runs, but it certainly was tempting. We stayed in a cabin at Kidney Pond, and after we arrived on Sunday afternoon, I ran the park (all dirt) roads from Kidney to Daicey Pond and back.
I felt surprisingly good, and subconsciously let the pace drop down. Of course, I'd told D that I was only going out for 3 miles, but I don't think she believed me anyway. The pull of running out onto the dock at Daicey Pond before turning around was too much. Monday was a similar story, but this time, I planned a trail run. I explored the Doubletop Mountain and Slaughter Pond Trails.
The first mile on the Doubletop Mountain Trail was very rugged with a tricky stream crossing at the mile mark. From there, the trail became more runnable and really fun. Despite some incorrect/potentially misleading signage on the Slaughter Pond Trail, I reached the shores of Slaughter Pond and a canoe graveyard. Near the shore of the pond, which I learned is just outside the park boundary, were at least 30 canoes strewn about the forest. Nonetheless, the view from and of the pond was beautiful. On the way back, I had to ford a stream that was only about calf deep, so I squished the rest of the way back. And, from the "HUH?!" category, I picked up a pillow with a leopard print case about a half mile from the trailhead. How did that get here? Not knowing the terrain, I told D before I left that I'd be back in under an hour. Fifty-nine minutes and change counts as under an hour. On Tuesday, I wrapped up my runs in the park with an easy four miles on the park roads. My legs were a touch tired following the previous days' efforts, but nothing surprising or worrisome.
Upon returning home, I wasn't sure what to expect on my next run. But, as it turned out, my run on Thursday was the best I've felt in quite a while as I cruised comfortably through the 5-mile Highland Green loop in 38:58. Forty minutes is a good barometer of how my legs are feeling, and this was a great sign. Last week, I felt terrible during a 41:33 tour of this loop, so this was a welcomed improvement. This evening, I did a 5-mile run over Mt. Ararat, summiting the mighty (read: not might at all) peak 10 times. Not a terrible run, but I didn't feel as spry as I would have liked. But, really, I shouldn't be complain. Plan is for another easy 5 miles tomorrow, which will get me to 30 for the week. Again, I'm easing back into things, so I'll take it. Something is bubbling just beneath the surface, so I'm feeling positive. Hopefully, it's not just gas.
My biggest concern right now (well, other than one of my calves exploding again) is my strength. With all that downtime, I feel as if I've lost all the pop in my legs. All that strength built up from snowshoe racing and training this winter is gone. I got nothing, and it's depressing. My plan is to run Mt. Ararat as much as possible to attempt to get it back. Hopefully, I don't have to wait for another snowshoe season.
On a positive note, my weight has stayed the same, which is a bit of a surprise. Well, not really. I've pretty much stop eating. My appetite is gone. That's the one thing that has remained from snowshoe season, so at least I won't have to work to get back that VO2 max advantage I gained, which means even though I feel like I'm starting from scratch, I'm starting from a better place.
Plan for MDI are still the same in that there is no plan. No other race plans, either. I have a long way to go before I set any goals. (If you believe any of those sentences, you've never met me.)