"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It doesn't get better than this

I worked a little late Tuesday night and didn't have much sunlight left to hit the Pimmit Run trail for an hour, so I took it as far as I could- out to Bryan Branch, then back via Old Dominion and New Virginia Manor for 10 miles at about 7:00 pace.

Wednesday I had my ritual steak and eggs breakfast in advance of the evening's workout, which I had high hopes for- 5xmile starting at 5:15 and speeding up five seconds from there. When we got back from our warmup, the high school meet on the track was still raging, so we had to look at our options. We decided on the Capital Crescent Trail, which had half mile markers and a one-mile stretch between Connecticut Ave and the tunnel. The drawback is that heading north means going downhill and south is back uphill.
We started out downhill and finished in 5:08- I started a little late and caught up. It seemed too easy. The second was 5:11, but it was tough. The third was 4:58 and easy again, but the fourth was a struggle. I went out in 2:32, but fell back over the second half when my turnover wasn't quite there and finished in 5:17. By then it was pretty dark, and I spent enough time worrying about whether I would trip in the myriad of ditches and holes in the trail, so I retired to the track, which was just about to clear. That fourth mile busted me, though. I started to do some miles on the track, but had no sense of pace and went 70 seconds for a first lap, then jogged around a bit. I decided to try again, but felt wasted after a 75 quarter. I met up with the guys who finished the workout on the trail and we cooled down on the track while watching Diddy put some miles away, getting as fast as 4:23.

Thursday morning I woke early to head to the office so I could run among the cherry trees on Hains Point. It was miserably humid and I wasn't thrilled to do a second loop, so I headed back and just did 10. The cherry blossoms looked okay, but the real feature was the fog- I couldn't see Virginia from the west side of Hains Point. Not before I saw a guy who looked like Neal Hannan running. It turned out, however, to be his twin brother, Veal.

Looking at the forecast, Saturday morning looked rough, so I decided to do my weekend workout Friday morning. That meant an early wakeup -- 5:30 -- so I could get some water and ease into it. I headed out to McLean High School in the dark. I passed a few other runners, and wasn't feeling too spry, myself. The track was shrouded in fog and I didn't waste any time getting started with 20 minutes aiming for 5:30s. I was a little slow, though, running 5:31s, and was feeling awful. Part of me wanted to go home, but then I set myself straight. I woke up early, and I certainly wasn't going to be falling asleep again if I went home, so I might as well finish what I started. Also, this was my last chance to get an ambitious workout in that would contribute to my race at Cherry Blossom, so run I must!

I made it 14.5 laps in 20 minutes, and took an easy mile for recovery, but then the fog had lifted and the sun was all over the place. I figured I had nothing to lose from giving it a shot and running 80 second laps as long as I could. I was a little fast- 78 for the first one, and slowed only slightly as I came through my splits exactly on time- 5:20, 10:40 (with a 79.99 eight lap) and 16:00. I was a little slow on 13, but picked it up for 14 and 15 and finished in exactly 20, giving me an even 1:20.00 average. Beautiful. I thought back to the last time I did this workout successfully and remembered that I wasn't terribly sharp in the first segment, then was fine for the second. I felt like I was definitely running much harder to hit 5:31s than to hit 5:20s. When running 80s, every time I came through the 200, I threw in threw our four quick steps to keep turnover from slipping, and I think that helped. I did a longer cooldown on Westmoreland and felt magnificent. I took photos of the average split time to relish them, but I can't seem to get them off of my camera, so, no art for this post.

Saturday morning I ran all of the Pimmit Run Trail in a light rain. I finally saw the rest of the downstream section. Once I got to the end, I went up Glebe, Old Glebe, Glebe again,Williamsburg and through part of NVM to Orland, then I walked in from Longfellow for 14, no need for 15. I totaled 91 for the week and felt strong. Unfortunately, at some point on the trail, my right leg rubbed some poison ivy, to which I had just lost my immunity last year.

Sunday morning I went out for a new variation on my Brook loop. It was slightly misty in the mid 50s and felt very comfortable. I started out with a  6:15 for the first mile, but then ran 6:00 for the next. That was going to be the way things shook out. I wrote the names of the new streets I would be running on my warm, but the ink was already running seven miles in when I was supposed to turn on Daleview. I saw a "no outlet" sign, so I figured that much be the wrong road. Then I looked closely at my arm and realized it was right, and I would take my chances that the sign was full of it. I came across some fancy new houses and caught the right roads and figured out what the sign meant- there was an outlet, but drivers were discouraged from taking it because it looked like a driveway- one car wide. I then came across what might have been the nexus on the universe- the intersection of Old Tolson Mill Road and Old Tolson Mill Road. It looked like running ahead would take me into a yard, so I took a left and down a hill to a creek then back up the hill...into someone's yard. I turned around and went back, sure now that the mile markers I had committed to memory were not at least a quarter mile off. I came out on Bellview and was right in the middle of some rough Great Falls hills. It only got steeper when I crossed Old Dominion, and I was smelling lobster just about nine miles in. I didn't let that bother me, though, and took it as a challenge to push through it.

Drivers on Georgetown Pike were mostly (all but two) generous with a little space on the lack of a shoulder, and I gave so many thank you waves that I worried they seemed insincere after a while. After crossing the beltway, I ventured into the neighborhood north of GTP and liked what I saw-- rolling hills and not much traffic. Some middle-aged woman running along seemed annoyed to have to share to road with me, though I had given her a wide berth. As I wound through the neighborhood, I realized that I was doing exactly what I loved, and it couldn't get any better than this. I got back down to the rental car neighborhood (Mayflower and Enterprise) and nearly fell on my face after slipping in mud, but kept cranking. I hit 1:45 and decided to keep it up and crank it on Rupert and Lemon. I passed two hours at Crutchfield and finished up in 2:04 flat. I mapped it out to be a little more than 20.4, for a 6:03 average. A lot faster than I had planned, but it's hard to measure just how much pleasure a run like that gave me. More than anything, it gave me the confidence to head into the last month or two of my spring season with assertiveness. I can't wait until after Cherry Blossom, when I can let loose and work the miles for a few weeks. If I don't earn a Pittsburgh half entry, I'm seriously considering Cleveland, which will certainly give me a few more weeks to train.

Monday I ran an easy 8 at 6:30 pace on the Westmoreland loop. Tuesday I came home with every intention of running 10, but instead I lied around and didn't run. Wednesday's trip to the track was somewhat unnecessary, because I had my own plans and would not really get anything at BCC I couldn't do at home. I did three moderate miles- 5:12, 5:16, 5:14 and called it a day with a long cooldown. Thursday morning I did an easy reverse Westmoreland at 6:31 pace. I'll run nice and easily this afternoon, an Oak tomorrow morning with a fast 9th mile, then an easy Park++ Saturday. Sunday, I'd like to start no faster than 5:20, speed up a little over the next few miles, but really attack miles 4-9, then smell the finish line. I'm thrilled to be able to run this race, a month ago I wasn't sure it would be feasible. Even after I started running again, my quads felt like they were tearing apart. Luckily everything has tied itself up nicely.

I'll miss the Spider Relays and Monument Ave 10k, a bummer indeed, but I want to be sure I'm rested for Sunday.

Meanwhile a new Rock and Roll Half Marathon in Pittsburgh will kick off in August 2013. Though its scheduling was done with regard to the Great Race in October, holding it in early August is dubious, at best. I have confidence that it won't have the same fly-by-night, generic marketing act that 2009's Spirit  of Pittbsurgh Half Marathon carried, but at least those buffoons had the wisdom to run it in the fall. 

Also, the Richmond Marathon has a new sponsor-Anthem health insurance. As the Times-Dispatch article describes, the finish line will move for all three races. 


  1. Good luck Charlie. If I can ever get my hips, back, and lower legs to agree with my running goals I'll try to get out there to run with you. After 6 years off from running, this last 6 months has been nothing but frustration. Your run report through Great Falls has me crossing back and forth between salivating (because you're making it out into the area of some of my favorite runs)...and feeling like a cranky old man for the same reason (that's my turf...get off my lawn!)

    I'll be out there somewhere (probably HP) to scream at you guys.

  2. Damn.... it don't get any better than this.