On Sunday I ran a “long run” in an alligator infested swamp land called the Myakka. Myakka River State Park is one of Florida’s many state parks. This one was a mix of prairie and dark wet woods with a touch of everglades thrown in for good measure. I had researched the park before I arrived and found, what appeared to be, two “slam dunk” trail loops in the park. My parents accompanied me and headed out on their bikes. I followed behind, but soon they were out of sight. After 17 minutes of running along the park road, which bordered a vast lake, I hooked a right into a trail call the Lower FOX Loop. That’s right, FOX. This was what I came here for; wooded trails, not asphalt. I entered a single man path that meandered through palm-tree like wilderness. The weather began to warm and I soon worked up a sweat. The trail was fantastic and it felt good on my sore hammy. Eventually I came to a sign with arrows: “Bee Island (arrow)” or “Moss Canopy (arrow)”. This was an easy decision. I headed towards the comfort of “Moss Canopy” and ran away from Killer (?) “Bee Island”. As I ran, wicked serpents slithered though the grasses around me – well, I didn’t see any, but I am sure they were there; pythons, cottonmouths…cobras (?). After about 15 minutes I came upon a man, his wife and their greyhound dog. They were the first people I had seen since leaving the road. In true Sunday morning fashion, I bellowed a friendly “hello” then snickered “Dr. Livingston, I presume?” since we appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. The wife laughed, but the man was not amused. I asked them for some brief directions and then found myself out of the wooded canopy and onto a hot and dry grassy road. Short scrub brush littered the sides of the road. This landscape seemed to go on for miles. The sun was now beating down pretty good and there was no shade in sight. I picked up my pace and began to hammer through this Serengeti back to where I thought I should be going. After a mile or two I came upon my parents at a dusty intersection. We looked at a map and then headed back down the road. My mom’s bike read 9.7 mph as she rode in my wake. I picked the pace up some more and ran marathon pace until I found my way back out to the asphalt road. I clocked a 5:55 (mm on the pavement) and then shut it down. My parents went back to the pick-up truck, tossed in their bikes and then picked me up a mile or so down the road. I only got in 12.5 but I didn’t want to keep the family waiting.
My hamstring wasn’t an issue at all during the run. The previous evening and even the morning pre-run, I questioned whether I would actually be able to train today…but now everything seems okay. The impulse to push the pace in the tropical climate was tempting, but I tried to stay reserved and not upset an already inflamed area. I can report that it feels better today than it did yesterday. I finished the week with 82 miles. Again, a little off what I was hoping, but I think I am content. This marks 9 weeks of 82 mile/week average…a much improved base over what I had been doing. I now begin the slow taper. No more high mileage for me. I’ll stick to mid 70s next week and then dip down to 60s before getting fully rested for Cherry Blossom. The hard part is over. Now I simply need to stay healthy and attack when the time calls for it. The racing season begins next Sunday with the SHAMROCK 5K in Baltimore. I’ve finished 3rd the past two years at this super fast race. It’s one of my favorites.