Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Zoo Loop

I had to do a work thing in Adams Morgan late in the morning, so I decided to sleep in a little and then run the infamous "Zoo Loop". The Zoo Loop starts and ends at the MD/DC line of Rock Creek Park. It's a 14-15 mile run (me thinks 14.6) that traverses both trails and roads. I wanted to test the waters with my hip over a longer distance and see how it responded during some hills. As I did today, I tend to start out a little faster when I run by myself and kept the pace up on the hills. At the top of Tilden Hill, I definitely felt my hip, but the pain went away by the time I hit the zoo. I made a few stops to stare at the cheetahs and zebras on my way down the acute-angled "Sloth Bear Hill". Again, at the bottom of the hill my hip felt hot. I struggled internally on my way towards Ross Drive. To run the hills or not to run the hills? Ross Drive resembles "the Newton Hills" of the Boston Marathon - not really because they aren't as steep, but it's good up-and-down training IMO. I always enjoy this section of the run as it gives me the chance to open up my stride on some race-like hills. In the end I decided to give them a whirl. This run would be a "full test" for the hip. I didn't feel any worse than I did before and cruised my way back to my car. I ran the loop faster (1:32:30) than I usually do (usually 1:35-1:40). I felt good...hungry, but good. I wanted to crank it on Beach Drive, but decided to simply coast in. The hip isn't 100% - there is still minor pain. It still feels better than it did on a daily basis before race season a month ago, but I really wanted to be rid of this pain already.

Bert Rodriguez, my arch nemesis from the rival PACERS running team, just surpassed my PR for 10k. Now, I don't have a single time in any distance better than his! This infuriates me. Two years ago, we were neck and neck in races...but he was always finishing just ahead of me. He has a devastating kick and 1:52 800m speed. In April of 2007, I whipped him by a good 30 seconds in a 10k (a race in which we both PR'd). I thought his days of beating me were over. Not so. He rocked me in Cherry Blossom this spring and wiped the track with me at a 2 mile race I invited him to this summer. What a jerk. On Sunday he erased my last "bragging right" when he smoked a 31:15 or something like that at the Veteran's Day 10k. Bert - if you read this, I will dig you a grave at Cherry Blossom '09! 51:59...

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