(Please note the omission of "Log" in the post title. It's gettin' all kinds of serious up in here.)
Mileage was actually down this week, but the quality was way up. Only reason for the drop was an extra day off that, at this stage of the game, seemed prudent. I need to focus on building not setting myself back. Additionally, this was a bit of a "race penance" week, as I felt I needed to atone for my horrible (mental) performance at Pineland.
Onto the numbers...
5/27, Sunday: Off. It was really hard to not get a run in today, but it would have been tricky. I was at Pineland for a little over 12 hours, starting at 4:45am, volunteering at registration and cheering on my fellow Trail Monsters and others. Many, many impressive performances out there, especially those running their first ultras. I feel both honored and lucky to be part of a group with such tremendous heart and determination. Plus, aside from the actual running, Pineland is the best event of the year. By the time I got home, I was pretty beat and entertained the thought of running but decided to eat and hang out with the kiddo instead—two of my favorite activities.
5/28, Monday: 7 - 1:06:23, 14x Mt. Ararat. With the horrible taste still in my mouth from Saturday, I needed to prove to myself that I could actually run up and down hills. So, what better way to do that than tackle my favorite little bump: Mt. Ararat? Pushed myself to 14 summits and called it a day. Not only good to get back to this run after a long hiatus, but also good to put out that kind of effort, as my pace was only about 20 seconds slower per mile than when I'm fit.
5/29, Tuesday: 8 - 54:57, Meadow Cross. I wanted to follow up the hills with some speed to further cleanse myself of the Pineland fiasco. I was not disappointed with my effort. Even with a 7:18 opening mile, I averaged 6:52 for the entire loop. And, this loop isn't flat. I pushed the entire way, which was what I needed. In time, this pace should (and will) feel easy, but I wanted to see how close to (projected) marathon pace I could get. Throw in the fact that it was windy and raining, including some crazy downpours, thunder & lightning and a wee bit of hail, and I call this a good effort. Much work to be done, but this was a solid start. Of note: this was the first run post-injury in my Racer ST 5's. I think these may end up becoming my full time road running shoe. They felt so much less clunky/heavy than my Ravennas. Plus, I don't think it's possible to run slower than a 7:59 mile in them. I love everything about them.
5/30, Wednesday: 5 - 40:02, Highland Green. Sluggish. Possible causes: A.) Monday; B.) Tuesday; C.) Monday & Tuesday; D.) Playing 9 holes of golf in the morning in Massachusetts with my father and father-in-law; or E.) All of the above.
5/31, Thursday: 11 - 1:44:07, Cathance Trails. Not the perkiest of runs, but a good effort nonetheless. The heat was definitely a factor as it was in the high 70's by the time I finished, and I'm just not accustomed to either that or the technical trails enough quite yet. Also, I was a bit thrown off by not being able to complete the loop I hoped, as I started with a 1.5 mile out and back at the beginning of the run due to an equipment malfunction.
In the late fall, I won a single bottle waist pack in a raffle from the awesome dudes at Ultrarunner Podcast. The prize was a Ultimate Direction Access Airflow, which I was pretty stoked to score, as it looked awesome and I don't have a single bottle waist pack. Plus, I hadn't been healthy enough to go on a run to actually need to carry anything in quite some time. Unfortunately, the belt was a complete bust. About a quarter mile in, the bottle fell out. I could easily see that this was operator error as I hadn't put the elastic cord around the bottle to secure it. No big deal, and off I went. About a mile into the run, I decided to take my first drink. As I pulled the elastic cord off to remove the bottle, I heard a pop. The elastic cord popped right out at one end leaving it dangling and useless. I figured I could manage for the run, but over the course of the next half mile or so, I had to keep pushing the bottle back into the holster every few yards. There was no way I was going to put up with that for another hour and a half, so I turned around, carried the bottle in my hand and headed home. I swapped it out for trusty Nathan handheld. Worth noting: The bottle that came with the pack has a really odd spout that was a bit hard to drink from. Perhaps I would have gotten used to it, but it's hard to know, since the pack only lasted a mile. Needless to say, I recommend avoiding this product.
So, back to the actual run, I never really got into a good groove for whatever reason: pack, heat, previous days' runs, but I still put in a decent effort. At about halfway, I dunked my head in the river, which was a welcomed relief. Regardless, it's always great to be out on these trails, and we're very fortunate to have them so close to home.
6/1, Friday: Off. I definitely could have gotten out this day, but, as I mentioned, I don't want to overdo it. They'll be plenty of time to bury myself later on.
6/2, Saturday: 5 - 40:41, Highland Green + 5x100 strides. Woke up with a splitting headache (I've been battling my allergies for a couple weeks), so I wasn't thrilled to have to put in an early morning run. But, I was on kiddo duty all day, since D had to work, so that's what it had to be. Plan was to take it nice and easy to see if the rest day had helped. Not only did I feel great and fully recovered, but the run also cleared my headache. Good stuff. Also, for the first time in forever, I added some strides post-run. I really need to work on both my form and my speed, so I'm going to start doing strides a couple times a week. They felt great. Going fast is fun. Plus, the midfoot strike felt great, and I feel like these will really help finalize the transition. All good news.
Very happy with the week, and I feel like I've exorcised the Pineland demons...at least for this year. Going to keep building and mixing up the type of runs moving forward. I'm feeling good enough to seriously think about training now. I feel like the injury is behind me. And, as I get more and more comfortable with the change in form—I'm already feeling far more efficient—I know that I'll only feel stronger and smoother. Throw in one black toenail, a couple blisters and some chaffing, and I really feel like a runner again.
Official Announcement: Goal race for the year is the Baystate Marathon. Really going to get after it and more on my reasons for choosing this race at another time. My finishing time will start with a "2". Mark it down.