This was one of those quietly satisfied weeks for me.
I only ran three days this week, but I would say that all three training runs were quality:
Su - 0
M - 0
Tu - 65 minutes (7.1m)
W - 2.7m (Tempo Run)
Th - 0
F - 0
Sa - 91 minutes (9.3m, Ultra Pace)
Total - 19.1m
The IT band is still a continual concern, and it inevitably is a limiting factor right now as far as jumping into any longer distance attempts. Aerobically and mentally I feel like I could attempt the GAC Fat Ass 50k in January, but the strain on the IT band is a concern. I am keeping options open at this point, but I'd rather be patient, train in health, and run a strong 50k at Pineland Farms.
The great news is that last night I went out and turned what was just going to be a 5 mile run into something more signficant. I went out at about dusk and headed off into the darkness and cold, and just set the cruise control. I have learned that being bundled up for cold weather running almost always translates to slower paces, so I have resolved to stay away from being compulsively critical of my pace and times during the winter.
Going down the road I was surprised by the lack of traffic for the hour. Got to the 2.5 turn and thought "IT band is not tight, and I want to explore a little". Over the interstate and past the on/off ramps I found the traffic and the yuppies coming home from Christmas shopping trips - almost all gave me the flip of the headlights - probably wondering what this fool with the head lamp is doing outside in 20 degree weather. I decided to head down a side road I had seen on other runs, but never actually explored. I took a peek at my watch halfway down this road and saw I had made it to 30 minutes out... (still feeling good, wondering if I should turn because I have commited to an hour run, which has been my "long" run so far since coming back from the injury, ah, what the hell, I am enjoying this!)
Cruised down a road with houses spaced out in the woods, all seemed to have ample amounts of Christmas lights. Who needs to drive around to look at the lights when you have a headlamp, reflective jacket and tights! Got to 45 minutes out and turned around. Going back up the road the full moon had just crested over the stands of naked trees and the moonlight flooded the quiet road. I shut off my headlamp and just cruised, taking in the abundantly clear sky with the moon and the stars - It is hard to feel cold when one is surrounded by such a scene!
The last ten to fifteen minutes of the run were a little bit of a concern because I could feel the soreness start to get progressively worse on the outside of the knee. I stopped and stretched to see if I could ease the pain a little, but it didn't seem to make a marked difference. Onward!
Generally, I approached the run as an ultra pacing training run. I did not anticipate going as far or as long as I did, but I stuck with the general principle for the duration of the run. The goal was to keep moving and just go at a pace that seemed effortless. Ideally I was thinking 9:30 to 10 per mile, so without really being a slave to mile splits I accomplished that.
Most of all, I simply felt blessed to be able to cover some distance and be out for an extended period of time. Sometimes the idea of training for hours as opposed to minutes is daunting and a bit of a point of anxiety for me - wondering if I have the time, or can even accomplish the goal of running far and/or long - but when the first step is taken and the adventure begins, the feeling of freedom and the ability to commune with the outdoors - even if it is a paved road - is like no other.
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