6 - 43:25 Super slow and painful run. The feeling I had in my legs was why I have taken so many days off in the last two decades. This run was not fun at all, since everything below the waist hurt a lot. The groin and glute muscles that I strained in the mud last week kept me jogging/hobbling at 7:3x pace for the first three miles before they finally loosened up and let my stride open up a bit. This is NOT my idea of fun and it definitely seems like asking for an injury, but I have to once again build up my ability to run while suffering. Taking that need into account, this was one mighty fine run!
6 - 35:25 It is hard to believe that a great day can come on the heels of such an awful running experience. Such is the experience of an ultra runner. (Hardcore, big mileage ultra runners please allow me to claim the title - I will show you that I am worthy!) This run included 4.5 miles of solid pace work (25:27). While that pace is slower than what I was capable of back in October, I am extremely happy to be where I am right now. It was cold (19 F), windy (11 mph), and I had to go in pants and a jacket. Still, this workout came relatively easily with negative splits.
I am accustomed to hitting the goal splits, but my minimal running schedule rarely causes me to have the bad legs I had over the weekend. Believe me when I say that I put a lot of effort into bringing those legs around. Significant manipulation and dynamic stretching took place over a two day period. That helped, I'm sure, but the key to my recovery was undoubtedly the repetitious consumption of some awesome vegan chili that I made Sunday afternoon. Yeah, that's it.
By the way, those deer were back. This time they were ON the asphalt trail when I first encountered them. Upon the approach of my huffing and puffing self, their white tails were seen in the fading light as they bounced into the nearby woods. On each of my other three passes they were back on the trail and they waited longer before bounding away. It was during my last approach that I began to worry. The deer not only waited as if playing chicken with me, they all definitely took several small steps toward me as if to challenge me. WTH! Bears in the Smokies do this when they want to rob you of your goodie-filled backpack. Deer are not supposed to stand firm and challenge. What did I do? I held my arms up high and wide while I growled. (Viral YouTube!!) All deer in the area should be questioned should I ever disappear while running.
6 - 42:30 This run was accompanied by another inch of snow, 2 F temperatures, and an absolutely gorgeous sunrise. Those deer were undoubtedly just out of sight while tucked in to avoid the frigid air. It was cold enough to keep me chilled throughout the run despite the fact that I was layered from head to toe. I was purposefully watching the HR in order to guarantee an easy run. One of the most difficult aspects of training, for me, is to slow down on days like these. So, I kept an eye on the HR. This 6 a.m. run was quite enjoyable due to a nearly constant view of the sun as it crept above the horizon and through the forest on its journey into a cloudless sky.
14 - 1:39:24 I ran the same mostly grass/trail loop that I ran last week on the USI campus. This loop offers a variety of terrain and footing. At 2.75 miles it is long enough to keep me from getting dizzy or too bored. With the temperature at 25 F when I started, the ground was solidly frozen. This was great at relieving me of the slippery mud, but it also created some poor footing due to the fact that the saturated soil buckled when the water froze several days ago. Only on my last lap did the ground soften a bit.
The legs felt pretty good today. The more level miles were sub-7. Those miles that included the Stru Hill were 15-20 seconds slower. That hill was still covered with an inch of snow. Stru Hill was the primary source of the 1100 vertical feet of climbing. This was the type of run I need right now. It wasn't fast, but the course was tough. The legs were probably good for two more laps at that pace. I look forward to measuring my progress on this loop over the next few months. Of course, I also look forward to running on much longer trails. I feel a road trip coming. Sure wish I could climb more!
Weekly Total: 32 miles (3:41)