I always look at a stretch of training in Pittsburgh as an opportunity to get myself in a shape in a hurry- there's no choice if you put in the work on the hills that permeate the region.
Wednesday night, I joined the GRC guys at BCC for their 2.5-mile warmup and then added four miles around the track during their workout. Not bad, a PR for distance since I came back.
I came back to Pittsburgh on the Thursday before Christmas with plans to run with Ann Mazur, another Pittsburgh native who now runs for Charlottesville's Ragged Mountain Running. When I arrived home, however, she blew me off, so it made me that much happier that the GRC beat her men's team at nationals. I ended up waiting until rather late to run, and attempted the 6.5-mile winding Mt. Washington run that I did while recovering from my seizure in 2006. I made it 2.5 miles before I gave up -- the snow and hills combined with my brisk early pace to send my heart rate through the roof. That evening I accomplished one of my culinary goals-- a meatball sandwich, at the Bigham Tavern a few blocks from my mom's house. Matt Ciccone and I enjoyed simultaneous Penguins and Steelers victories.
Friday morning I headed to Mt. Lebanon for the annual WPIAL alumni run. Two other GRC-related dudes showed up- Predator and Scott Munro, who first told me about the team a few years ago. We had probably our biggest group, larger, perhaps, than the original run in 2000.
From Mt. Lebanon- myself,
Greg Costello, Mark Delaney and Ross McGowan
Baldwin- Larry Quinn, Ryan Sheehan, Dan Mazzocco
Cannon-Mac- Taryn, Kyle, Gibson
Chartiers Valley- Ryan Hanson, Marco Dozzi
Peters Township- Michelle Corkum
Seneca Valley- Matt Gaudet
Highlands- Tom Slosky
Norwin- Jess McGuire
Thomas Jefferson- Brad Shapiro
Carrick- Craig Woshner
Riverview- Dave Hackworth
Bethel Park- Ed Koontz
South Park- Scott Munro
Northgate- Brandon Gillingham
Pine-Richland- Greg Byrnes
Notable absences: Timmy Wu, Sean Kennedy, any North Allegheny guys, Brian Quinn,
A good group, but unfortunately much faster than I was ready to accompany. I stuck with the pack well through 5.5 miles, but going up Kane destroyed me. I tried to stick with Moonrow and Maz, but my heart was pounding and I was gasping for breath. Thank goodness Slosky was also in rudimentary shape, because he hung back with me and kept me going up Bower Hill Road to Kelso. We took it very slowly the rest of the way and in doing so I hit my longest run yet- 8.25 miles. I was able to eat one of two pancakes at Gab & Eat, which was actually a good sign.
Christmas morning I went out on my own and ran a 5.5 mile loop in Schenley Park- down the hill from the overlook to the collegiate trail, back up to Phipps, then backwards up through the golf course and down Serpentine and to the car. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't hard.
I was planning to run around Fox Chapel the morning after Christmas, but I decided to go to church with my dad and stepmother to hear my brother Edward sing. I hadn't heard him before, despite my appreciation and encouragement for his pursuit of a music education. He was outstanding. Later that day, I made up a new loop in the West End. Starting at Tramps, I headed up Greentree Road to Kearns, which is closed for a portion, which happens to be really steep, and covered in snow. I took Kearns to Poplar and Noblestown, then went out and back on a dead end street before finishing up.
Monday, I met up with Predator at Mt. Lebanon's track for an eight-mile run of moderate hilliness. We didn't go fast, but it was good to push my endurance.
I met up with Slosky on Tuesday in Shadyside to run my classic loop from my tenure in that neighborhood- the Emerson. We averaged 8:02 over 10.5 miles, which was sobering, but I relished that I had broken 10 miles.
Wednesday I planned to run with Brandon G in Fairywood, Windgap, McKees Rocks, Kennedy Township and Thornburg, but I ended up running alone from my mom's house. I intended to run nine miles around Chatham Village, but that is ridiculously boring. I just did three miles, at 6:35 pace. I headed back to DC that afternoon.
Thursday after work, Alex joined me for the first two miles of an Oak loop, which we did around 7:35-7:45 pace. He departed at Fairwood and I sped up down Shreve. By the six-mile mark I knew I was under 7:00 pace, but by the time I got back, I realized I ran 6:36 pace for 10 miles. Not bad.
I had plans, the next day, to try to double- 8 and 5, but I slept in and just did the 8- a Westmoreland averaging 6:32, with a definite slowdown in mile five.
Saturday I closed off a 50-mile week with a short workout at B-CC in the afternoon. I ran 2x2k with this dude Brian, and I ran 7:05 and 7:01, 5:41 and 5:38 paces. Considering it was the fastest I had run since the Herndon Turkey Trot and was a minute faster than a lot of my mileage, I was pretty happy.
The weather, which improved significantly on Wednesday, helped, but I do think I am starting to regain my legs and lungs. My long run this week will be a big step- 12 miles, as I shoot for 60 this week.