...And it feels really good. I haven't run with any real consistency since 2007. I've run some races here and their and even trained for some of them...sort of. but for some reason I was never consistent I never kept it going. Then a couple months ago something clicked again and since then I've had two of the best months of training I've had in years. Before the end of June I had probably run less than 50 miles all year. And in two months I've been able to get back in shape enough to run a 5K PR on tired legs after two pretty hard runs in three days. It's not a total mystery, I kind of know why I've been able to get back into the swing of things, but I won't go into that now.
I had a great race yesterday at the First Annual Newbrook Fire and Rescue 5K. It was an out and back on a dirt road. the first half was slightly uphill, but nothing major, the second half was...you guessed it. It was the perfect grade. I was feeling strong the first half and didn't really even notice the incline, but was really able to take advantage of the down on the way back and open up the stride. I love down hill running...when my quads aren't shot, that is. I finished 2nd overall, it was a small race, about 60 runners. the first place guy shot off the front from the start I knew within 15 seconds that unless he was terrible at pacing I wouldn't have a shot at catching him. After dodging the hand full of 8 year olds who sprinted the first 200 feet or so I was sitting in third behind a youngster, i'm guessing he was somewhere between 13-15 years old. He was moving pretty well. I thought he would slow down but wasn't quite sure. there was a water station at 1 mile, when he slowed down to grab water I could tell he was experienced and unlikely to maintain his pace in the second half. It's a 5K, it'll be over soon, do you really need water? within a minute of the water stop i passed him. Continuing on, I saw the lead guy pop out around a corner on the return trip as soon as I passed that same corner I saw the turnaround point. I estimate he was about 15 seconds in front at that point but he still looked strong. When I hit the turn around I had about 10 seconds on the kid, who still looked pretty good, but I wasn't expecting him to make any surges.
The second half went well, the downhill was much appreciated and it was nice to see all of the other runners coming up the hill. When I hit the turnaround point I was really surprised to look down at my watch and see a time of 9:38. I have only run one other 5K in my life which I finished in 21:30, that was about a year ago, so I didn't really know what to expect but I figured I would run some where between 21-22 minutes, so to be on pace for 19:XX was surprising and I was questioning weather I would be able to hang on. I was definitely starting to red line at the end but I was able to hold on. I looked back once with less than a minute to go to make sure the kid wasn't gaining on me. It was a straight away section so he was still in sight but plenty far enough in the rear-view for me to feel comfortable. I run pretty even the second "half" which was actually about 200 yards longer than the first half because the finish was 200 yards beyond the starting line. my second half was 9:46 for a final time of 19:24. They haven't posted the final results yet so I'm not sure how far back I was from first but I'm guessing it was somewhere between 40-50 seconds. A very successful and surprising little race. And a great reminder of how much I love being in a race. the competition and all the friendly faces, it's good for the soul.
I'm 8 days away from my speed hike of the Long Trail and feeling pretty good about it. All of the little nagging pains I've had in the past 2 months are currently non-existent and I'm hoping to keep it that way. there was an Unsupported speed record attempt on the Long Trail last week that ended due to injury, so the current record stands at 6 days 17 hours. As I mentioned before I don't think that is within my reach this time around, but I'm starting with 7 days of food and an itinerary of daily mileage that would set a new record if everything goes better than expected. But i'm definitely not going to force anything. This is more of a training hike than a record setting attempt. My goal is to finish this hike and be able to continue training aggressively throughout the fall. So I don't want to pus to hard and risk injury that will require extended recovery.