I got to the track and wasn't feeling particularly great. Witty rolled up on a fancy bike and we got going with our 400s. We did a few in the mid 70s, then went down to 72 for a set, then low 70s and high 60s for four laps. I bowed out after 12, wanting to go out on top, and he kept going, so I paced him through a few 200s, going as fast as 30.
The weekend was incredibly stressful, in significant part due to the metro people replaced by a shuttle bus between Courthouse and Foggy Bottom, a huge delay. Ciccone was visiting from Pittsburgh, and he expressed an interest in running with me, so I put off my run on Saturday until the afternoon as to join him. The problem with arranging a schedule around visitors who don't prioritize running is that, for lack of a better explanation, they don't prioritize running. Eventually he said we should scrap the run, so I went out to get 12 on my own. It was dry but cool when I left, so I wore shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. I headed up Great Falls to Dolley Madison, and about three miles in, the cold rain started. It picked up as I rattled of 6:20 miles down Old Dominion until I hit Marymount and turned onto Yorktown. By the time I got back to my place, I was worried that the chill I suffered might damage my reproductive health. I warmed up by eating french toast sticks and cowering in a pile of towels. Aside from the chilly run, I was trying to figure out how to time a long run the next day to maximize the number of people to come out to Burke Lake.
I stayed at Regina and Clay's Saturday night in Bloomingdale on a surprisingly comfortable couch, with a plan to grab shoes and extra running clothes from my office before going to Alexandria to get a ride from the O'Haras. Matt brought up training questions before I left, though, and I wanted to answer them. Upon leaving, I hoped to get a bagel from McDonald's on the way. I then passed a blind woman who asked me to walk her to a bus stop five blocks away. I obliged her, but worried how long it would take. Upon seeing the bus leave before we got there, she then bid me walk her another six blocks, then find a cab for her. All of which I was pleased to do, but I was also hungry, thirsty and short on time. I bought a train to Gallery Place, and walked as fast as my loafers would take me to my office, grabbed my clothes and started running back. All of a sudden, Tender and Matias popped out of the metro station, it seemed. I was confused. I saw I had seven minutes until the yellow line came, so I ran back out and over to City Sports to get some body glide and sport beans to give me some sustenance. I got back in time for the train and made it to Alexandria with a minute to spare. We went to the lake and met up with Dolla Billzzz, Tex and Witty. Billzzz was content to run a little easier than the other three, and after we hit the dam on the first lap, I headed back and finished the 14+ miles with him. The weather was perfect- a little chilly, but clear, the light wind hassling us none. I then had some fried chicken at Safeway.
Monday night, I ran out from the Vienna metro to meet Karl and Mike, who interpreted our plans to mean Tuesday. After waiting for him, we started off for Sunrise Valley, and Karl noticed we got to our normal cruising pace faster than normal. I had been exhausted on the ride over and somehow kept my shit together for 13.25 miles, with an extra loop around the Vienna Metro afterward.
Tuesday night I extended a Thomas loop out to Upland for 13.25 again, averaging 6:27s. I somehow ran 5:40 for my fourth mile, which puzzled me, but I didn't stop my watch at any point.
Wednesday had some potential for disaster. I felt miserable during the warmup and was rushed a lot of the time. I also didn't really get into the groove during the first few 800s, which we hit in 2:31, 2:30, 2:27 and 2:27. I led the fifth, in 2:25, and sat back a little for 2:25, 2:22 and 2:22. I did feel a little tight around my tailbone, I'm not sure what the deal there was. With a long cooldown, I had 12.25. That night, I felt a little off in my lower body. During the workout, my tailbone felt stressed, which was really bizarre. I had a cramp in my right calf while stretching out in bed, and when I woke up, felt some odd tightness in my lower back.
I met up with Dave Burnham Thursday afternoon,. He was running home from work,. but he accompanied me to West Potomac Park and halfway to Hains Point before he turned back. Using the 2011 Marine Corps mile markers, I cruised some 6:15s, the eased up for my run back. Some chaunce tried to race me along the mall, it actually made me feel uneasy. I didn't feel any of those lower body muscular-skeletal issues.
Friday I woke up with no desire to run, and realized there were worse things in the world than taking a day off when you could physically and mentally really need one.By the time half of my work day was over, I knew it was the right move. I wondered how I'd even get the energy to get up and walk to the metro. Surprisingly, when I got home and went to bed, I had a difficult time falling asleep.
Saturday morning, I woke up at 6:30 to the sound of water pouring through the downspout near my window. I knew it was cold, and it was going to take a lot to get me out there. I went back to sleep until 7 to let that clear up, and when I stuck my head outside the porch, I saw it wasn't raining too much, but it was cold. I thought about bagging the Have a Heart for Hoffman-Boston Elementary School 5k, but then I thought about the last time I hung Dave out to dry (or soak) because I was afraid of adverse weather, the workout before Halloween, and I didn't want to do that to him again. I headed to the metro station to catch the shuttle bus to East Falls Church and walked two miles to the starting line. I warmed up with Dave, who, like me, had no real race plan. I wasn't feeling great, but considering the inertia that comes with mornings like that, I wasn't shocked. When the race started, we bolted out fast enough that within a few seconds, I couldn't hear anyone on our tails. I started to feel off when we dipped under Wilson Boulevard, but I kept going. My form didn't feel right, and I had no idea how fast we were going. We passed the mile in 4:57, and while I was surprised that we were going that fast, I also wasn't, because I was definitely working. I eased up a little bit, but at the same time, both my calves and shins started to tighten dramatically and I didn't have a good feel for them. Dave got farther and farther away and I gave up hope of catching back up with him -- we'd be on our own. I hit the turnaround at 8:06 and realized just how much I had slowed. The one nice thing about an out-and-back course is being able to see the other people in the race, so I got to bid good luck to our women's team (who finished 1-7) and others, including John Kendra and Mike Naff. I also got into a better groove with my form right before the turn, which made the second half more pleasant, even though I was running slower.I hit the second mile with a 5:29 split, and I can credit most of that to the downhill portion after the turn. I was paying for that first mile. I stopped even trying to catch back up with Dave and just kind of ran comfortably in. A few people shout to me that I should go get Dave, but I politely declined. I hit three miles in 5:17, much better, considering my effort, and finished up at 16:17 for second.
We sported a seven-woman team in the race, which attracted a serious crowd from non-racing GRC athletes. Breezy and Murph came by during their long run, Michelle took these wonderful photos, and a soccer mom who I later determined to be Dart showed up, too, along with Jerry, Avril's fiancee, Dave O'Hara and Rich Saunders. That kind of support, for a little 5k, was fantastic, and it demonstrated a major ancillary benefit to the GRC Racing Team. I had planned to do 2xmile on the W&OD after the race, but about two minutes into the first one, I just wanted to quit. One my way back, I bumped into the women's team and joined them for their cooldown, which helped me a lot. I ended up getting in 12 miles total. I considered doubling to get 85, but after a nap and seeing the trees bending to the wind's will, I was fine with 78. I needed a little break from the mileage.
On the surface, it was a better rust-buster than last year's By George 5k- 39 seconds better, though that race involved 1.5 miles into a heinous headwind, though a flatter course. This time, though, I'm not recovering from throat surgery. I was upset with my lack of feel for the pace, which took me out in the same split as my delightful Richmond 8k and disastrous Philly Half. I'm disappointed I didn't push through the discomfort in the second mile, I fell back from Dave like a hypothermia or carbon monoxide victim accepting his fate, even though it would have behooved me, and him, for me to stay with him. I couldn't help but wonder if some company for the last almost-two miles would have helped him break 16:00. I blame my leg issues on insufficient stretching, and I can fix that... easily. The positive, which Michelle pointed out, was that I maintained solid form at the end, which I hope will bode well for my ventures into the longer distances this spring.
My sleeping follies last week motivated me to force myself to wake up early, despite another late night that was largely such due to delays with the metro. I thought about delaying my long run for a day, but had little desire to run it in the dark after work, so I figured I'd just go out and face the wind, which evidently was supposed to make it feel like eight degrees. The whole damned loop is hilly. The bridges spanning the beltway were ridiculously windy, and for most of Georgetown Pike and Haycock, I seemed to be running right into the wind. Just like the last time I ran this loop, in October, I hit 11.1 miles in 1:11, which was pretty cool. The undulating hills on Georgetown Pike east of the beltway always beat the crud out of me. Lorraine, at 17, was awful, but not as long or steep as I always fear. I ended up hitting 19.1 miles at 6:30 pace, with only a little discomfort in my hips when I was coming down Orland at mile 17.75.