On Monday, I woke up and ran a solo 8.5 miles out and around the Rock Creek Trail. I remember nothing from that run.
On Tuesday, I met Scott Koonce and got in another 8.5 miles in the morning. Later that day I drove to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving. The drive took 12.5 hours – one of my longest commutes “home” in the 15 or so years I have been making the drive. Lame.
I didn’t run on Wednesday. I didn’t get much sleep (went to bed after 1am and had to wake early) and it was pouring rain (sideways at times) all day. Yes, these are excuses, but these factors validated my decision to take a day off.
On Thursday, I drove with my mother and sister to the WE GATHER TOGETHER 5k in Sandwich. I’ve run (and won) this race 3 times before. It’s a great race with a very local feel. The entry fee is $10 plus a bag of canned goods. Thousands show up. After a 3.5 mile warm-up, I slinked over to the starting line and prepared to do battle. It was cold – mid or low 20s with the wind-chill – and at 8am the sun was hardly above the horizon. The race got a late start so I spent 10-15 minutes hopping up and down - clad in singlet, shorts, gloves and snow hat – in an effort to ward off the omnipresent chill. We finally got under way. I took off fast, simply to get warm, but then settled in behind a handful of runners, some of which had gone out too fast. By the time I hit the half-mile I was in the lead and feeling good. I had someone right on my shoulder, even running abreast of me at times, so I was constantly pushing that first mile…or so I thought. 5:07. Geez. I surged ahead and pressed hard up the only real hill in the race – a steep incline just after the first mile marker. At the top, I collected myself then tried like hell to hammer the long downhill towards mile 2. But alas, mile 2 was even slower – 5:23. By now I had secured the W, number 2 having blown up at the hill, but I did my best to press it in. My last mile was 5:08. I won (3-peat) in a personal worst time of 16:0something. I cooled down for 4 miles then went home to drink martinis and devour turkey.
On Friday, I met my old high school teammate, Mike Merrill, at the old high school. Mike was a year older than me and was Barnstable’s top runner from the time I was a freshman to when I was a junior. He wasn’t a great track runner (9:55 I think), but the guy was tough as nails and could really run well in cross country. He was injured during the beginning of his senior year (my junior year) so I became the team’s top runner. When he returned to racing, I was beating him…ever so slightly. We were rivals, to a degree, but we also wanted each other (and the rest of the team) to run well. Granted, we both wanted to be the top dog. By the time the State Class Meet came around, Barnstable High School was poised to go where we had never gone before – the All State Meet. Top 5 was the goal. A pouring deluge of rain turned the course into a cranberry bog, but remarkably, our scrappy team placed 2nd. For the first time ever, Barnstable, as a team, would be going to the state meet. The next week, Mike ran like the wind and placed 5th at States – still one of the most impressive feats I’ve ever witnessed (on tape afterwards, since I was racing). Fast-forward 37 years --- Mike and I were back at it; pounding the pavement around the village of Hyannis. After finishing the 10-mile loop (in 64-minutes), Mike, who now coaches is alma mater as a side job, showed me the new cross country course I would have to contest the next day during our alumni race. I got in 12.
On Saturday, I begrudgingly (I was tired from revelry, racing and it was ice cold – again) ran the alumni race. I took off conservatively, hitting the first mile in 5:12, then proceeded to cut the pace down to 5:08, then 5:05. I ended up running 16:09 for the slightly long (by my GPS) 5k course. It was a good workout for sure and arguably a better effort than my Turkey Trot result two days earlier. I got in 7 miles. That afternoon I drove to the home of the great Sam Luff, somewhere in the middle of Pennsylvania.
On Sunday, I ran with Sam from his home up and down through rolling hills surrounded by cornfields. The hills were huge, mountains one might say – but it was a pleasant run all the same. My body was beat after the run (14 miles) – the toll of driving + racing or running hard 4 out of the last 4 days had damn near crippled me. After the run, we dined at the local diner and washed down French toast and eggs with 3 gallons of coffee. Then, once again, I got in my car and drove – 3.5 hours back to DC.
By my calculations, that’s 60 miles for the week. Not great, not terrible. My knee, however, is still not doing well and seemed to have taken a turn for the worse. I will take Monday off, regroup and weigh my options.
Stat of the day – Sam Luff ran 9:10 for two miles (or 3200) in high school --- as a junior! I never knew…