Friday, November 15, 2013

Looking Up

As the pre-dawn darkness gave way to a post-dawn gray, a look not that uncommon in the early hours of November, I began to uptick my stride. The temperature was cold - in the lows 20s. Actually, it was downright frigid, especially since the sun was still low on the horizon. The only way to get warm was to run a little faster. Just a little faster. There was no one else around. The air was still. The woods was quiet. Just my breath. Occasionally I'd see a buck with a doe or two in tow, but for the most part I was alone. My fingers, crippled in a fist inside my gloves, were numb, but I knew that I'd soon feel them again, hopefully within the next couple of miles. Out of the gate I was running 6:30s, but a few miles in I was clicking 6:10s. Near the end I was running ten miles per hour. Without exerting too much effort, I tried to creep down and *kiss* marathon pace (5:35s), something which got much easier each day I ran. It was a good sign - I realized I was finally gaining some momentum. Things were looking up.

I haven't posted here on my blog very much, because:
1. I've been writing a book and the last thing I want to do at the end of a day is write MORE and, 
2. My training has been piss poor and my races even worse.

The last week or so, while struggling through the cold November air, has actually rejuvenated my spirits. I love winter running (I know it's not winter yet, but...) and I am hoping this bodes well for things to come. In addition, my knee pain, the not 100% gone, has subsided considerably.

LAST WEEK, I got in 72 miles, my first 10-mile-a-day average in quite some time. Last Saturday, I jumped in the local Cardinal 5k and got schooled by a pair of Ethiopians and some younger dude who looked like Thor. I went out in 4:47, which obviously taxed me since my last two miles were 5:23. Yikes. I tried my best to push this into the back of my mind and treat it as a workout...since I am not doing any lately, but 16:03 for 5k is hard for me to swallow. The next day I ran 14 in Rock Creek Park, the last four fairly hard...for punishment.

THIS WEEK, I should hit 75. In addition, I've found steady employment, which will keep me grounded here in DC until the end of January (translation - good training). 

On Monday, Veteran's Day, I ran with Sebi, Sam and Sam's buddy from Pierce Mill. I got in 8.5.

On Tuesday, I ran a solo 9.5 from North Bethesda (started my GPS a half mile in). After running some of the hills east of Rock Creek, I found myself gliding along at 5:35 pace.

On Wednesday, I ran a solo 9.5 down/around Tilden Park. I like running here - a little bit of trails and plenty of neighborhood hills.

On Thursday, I hammered 10.5 miles in/around the Gold Miner's Loop near Old Angler's Inn. Again, lots of hills, which left me worked.

On Friday, I ran down to the Walter Reed Annex Trails and got in 12 miles. By mile 3 I was already running pretty fast (again, to warm myself up) and I kept that effort up for the remainder of the run (effort, not necessarily pace since the trails near the Annex are slower than the meandering Rock Creek Trail (bike path).

If you look at the Garmin links, you will see an obviously trend - my daily runs are being run a lot harder than normal - starting out at 6:30s and finishing between 5:35-5:50 (depending on terrain). 

On Saturday, I ran with Sam down to Radio Tower Field (AKA Cell Phone Field) for a workout. His plan was to tempo 8k. My plan was to tempo 2k then run the next 2k hard. We hit mile 1 in 5:19 then I hit my next mile in 4:54. I was taxed and came through 2.5 in a hair under 13:00. I ran the last half mile of Sam's workout before jumping in a 5 x 30 seconds. When all was said and done I had 11 miles in.

On Sunday, Sam and I ran south from the LBJ Memorial Grove down to Old Town to watch the .US (12k) Road Race Champs. Tex and his buddy from college met us 6 miles into our run and we proceeded to catch the runners filing past at various stages of the race. In one of the most bizarre running experiences in recent memory, our quartet watched as Abdi Abdirahman came crashing to the pavement as he negotiated a 180-degree turn, somewhere between miles 5 and 6. We surmised he slipped on a piece of metal embedded in the road; still wet from the rain we got the night before. He went down hard and proceeded to grip his leg(s) in distress. For 30-seconds, Abdi writhed about on the pavement...all while course marshalls and cops looked on. What was going on? How come no one was helping him? Meanwhile, others runners were flying around the turn. It was only a matter of time until some careened into him and joined him on the pavement. Like Batman and Robin (me, of course being Batman), Sam and I dashed across the street and grabbed the four-time Olympian by his skinny arms. "Get up," we yelled at him. We wanted to get him off the race course - quickly (again, he was invisible to oncoming runners due to the sharp turn). He asked how his face was and it was then I realized he had bashed the side of his head on the pavement when he fell. We reassured him he wasn't too banged up (he wasn't). Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, we convinced Abdi to stumble off the road. Some elite athletes whipped past and silently cursed us "pedestrians" for being in the way. Others understood we were helping someone. Once Abdi was secure on the sidewalk, a woman took down his information and called medical. Ironically, the official had no idea who he was. "What is his race number," she shouted. Frustrated, Sam yelled back "It's Abdi -- just Abdi." Then, the cop who'd been staring at the spectacle from afar, yelled at us for being on the wrong side of the road and he forced us back across the street. No good deed goes unpunished. From there, we continued to the finish line and then ran north back to our parked cars - 14 miles.

75 miles for the week.

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