Cornfield Meet

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Running 2013: Weeks forty-six and forty-seven

My last two weekends of running have been all over the map, literally and figuratively: I’ve been struggling with my lung power, and having trouble tackling runs in more than relatively short bursts. I don’t know if it’s been the cold weather or what, but I have really felt winded.

So: Saturday, Nov. 16 – Four trail miles at Quail Hollow, mid-30s, temperature wise. Just before the mile-and-a-half mark, I found myself in unmarked territory and had to stop and get my bearings – and wound up doubling back anyway. (I hadn’t actually left park territory, but I was out on the fringes near one of the bordering roads.) I’d done a 9:05 first mile, which is pretty quick for my trail runs, and it hit me hard enough that I needed to take a break after mile two. Things didn’t get easier: I needed two more breaks over the last two miles and never regained any speed.

Sunday the 17th – my 43rd birthday – I thought I’d better try to address this whole breathing thing and do some speedwork: Four decent quarter-mile runs, where my per-mile pace worked out to 5:52, 5:55, 6:15, and 7:00. My total running time was something around 6:20, with about a 2-minute break between each run. Then I did a 2.6-mile jog (10:02 pace). The extra tenth of a mile was because I remembered my last mileage total ended in a .9.

Monday, Nov. 18, I registered for the Dec. 7 Ohio Outdoor Series Trail Run.

Saturday, Nov. 23: Temperatures in the high 20s. Sunny and windy. I hit the roads near the house for what turned out to be another stuttering sort of morning, but I probably set myself up for that by pushing myself to a 7:39 first mile. A two-minute rest, and then I jogged two more 1.5-mile stretches (9:26 and 10:22) with another brief rest in the middle.

And then I missed Sunday the 24th – I wimped out, because it was below 20 degrees and windy, and while I have the gear for cold-weather running, I just couldn’t bring myself to go out there and put my lungs through it.

Which means my mileage total is now 331.5 – and today is the 330th day of the year.

I’m hopeful that the weather – and my lungs – will cooperate enough that I can get in some good extra miles over the long Thanksgiving weekend, and get back into some decent long stretches without feeling so beat.

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November 26, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , | 1 Comment

Running 2013: Weeks forty-four and forty-five

It was sunny and in the mid-30s on Sunday, Nov. 3. I had skipped the cold and wet day before, knowing this was going to be a decent day. I plotted a new loop – 7.25 miles, out onto some new roads.

A really hilly stretch in miles 4-6 took a toll, and I slowed up pretty significantly in the last half, but let myself focus on enjoying the run and taking in the distance. Average pace: 9:43.

Saturday, Nov. 9, another gray and mid-30s day. Four pretty steady road miles:  8:46; 8:50; 9:06; and 8:39.

Sunday the 10th, was gray and cold again, but much, much windier – which made it a great day to be in the Quail Hollow woods. 3.5 miles, 9:36 pace.

On the year: 319.9 (know, I know – I’d have added another tenth if I’d realized that was going to happen). Today is the 316th day of the year, so I’m right where I need to be.

November 12, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week forty-four

Three-and-a-half trail miles on Saturday, Oct. 26, and four road miles on Sunday the 27th.

Cold enough both days to warrant long pants, a sweatshirt, hat and gloves, but not nearly enough to get out the long-sleeved Under Armour shirt.

I ran in the woods on Saturday because even though it was 37 and sunny, it was really windy. Being in the trees made a huge difference. I pushed through two decent miles, just over nine minutes each, but really hit a wall toward the end of mile three, so even though I had been wanting to bank some extra distance, I settled for 3.5.

Sunday was similar, temperature- and sky-wise, but with very little breeze, so I did a casual four-mile loop, during which I spent a good amount of time juggling some writing ideas, getting super-excited about them, and trying to run faster while speaking the ideas out loud to myself so I wouldn’t forget them when I got home.

Miles on the year: 305.15. Today (10/30) is Day 303.

October 30, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week forty-three

Yet again, I found myself needing to tackle a week in a day, which didn’t go so well for me in Week 41.

This time, I decided I’d rather try my longest trail run by far and not worry about my time, so long as I just kept moving above a walk.

Gorgeous, sunny morning it was, and just below 50F, so I wore my shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.

I covered 7.5 miles – all but a quarter-mile of it off-pavement – and experienced pretty much all the environments of Quail Hollow State Park, finding myself taking a few new paths and way out in suprising parts of the park I hadn’t really come near before. The fastest mile I did was my first – 9:03 – and my slowest was Mile 7, at 11:48 (which included a lot of climbing). I only paused twice – once to get my bearings, and once to figure out how to get across a rain-swollen creek.

For the first time in awhile, I got post-run soreness in my legs the next day, but it was well worth it.

Miles on the year: 297.65. Monday (the close of my running week) was day 294, so I’m right in the zone.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week Forty

Road run on Saturday, Sept. 28. Four miles, average pace 8:31. Even though I’ve done this distance slightly faster this year, this one felt good because I kept things pretty steady: 8:41, 8:31, 8:39, and 8:15. Fastest mile at the end, with a decently-maintained acceleration over the last quarter mile.

Sunday afternoon was perfect for a Quail Hollow trail run: Overcast and in the low 70s. And since I started and finished at one of the mountain bike access points (photo above), this 3.1-miler was my first 100% trail run: No pavement at all.

I really liked this one: Several different environments to pass through, and I found my way to the loop which had eluded me a couple weeks ago.

Also, I paused the Garmin and stopped for a minute deep in the woods when a huge red-tailed hawk swooped across the path right in front of me and came to rest on a low branch nearby. I just had to see if I could get a closer look. The thing was just magnificent.

And I shared a funny moment with a family hiking with their kids, inadvertently scaring the bejeezus out of one of the moms when I came up behind them on the trail. I was deliberately making noise, too – heavy footfalls, exaggerated throat-clearings and the like – but they still didn’t hear me catching up to them. Poor woman turned sideways to slip past a branch, saw me about 10 feet behind them and freaked out – loudly – for a half-second before catching her breath and bursting into laughter.

Averaged 9:14 for the run, with no stretches of pavement to let me open things up, so I felt good about that.

7.1 miles for the week. Total to date: 272.4. October 1 is the 274th day of the year.

September 30, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week Thirty-six

Finished off August with a mid-morning four-mile run on Saturday. Somehow felt like I was running into the wind in every direction. Not a really strong wind, but enough to make me think, “Oh, come on.

Didn’t push things really hard until the last third of a mile, but that was enough to keep my overall pace at 8:50 per mile.

Sunday, Sept. 1, I went for my first trail run.

I’ve run on trails from time to time, but never for any significant distance, but I figured I’m going to try one of the Ohio Outside races by year’s end, I should probably give it a shot. The downside is that trail running means driving – just a few miles up the road to Quail Hollow State Park, but that also means I’m putting on the running belt so I can carry car keys. And if I’m wearing the belt, I’m bringing water – which was a good idea on Sunday anyway, since it was warm and sunny.

So, here’s my run as tracked by Garmin:

turtlesporttrailmap

And here’s what that area looks like on Google Maps satellite view:

20130901trailrun

From my parking space to the end of the paved “Nature for All” trail was about .6 miles, and I did that at the beginning and end of my 3.5-mile route, meaning I ran about 2.3 miles on pure trail: soil, rocks, roots, and the occasional wooden-plank walkway.

What I learned: Holybejeepers, trail running is work.

I really enjoyed my ever-changing surroundings and being in the shade of the woods, but I was unprepared for the toll the terrain would take on my pace. For most of the time, I was close to ten-minute miles, held in check by the need for short strides, the need to constantly watch my footing, and the lack of downhill freewheeling opportunities. (Okay – technically the opportunities were there, but for a new trail runner, they came with too high a risk of additional opportunities. You know: full-on face plants, crunched ankles, opportunities like that.) The opening and closing pavement stretches were the spots that allowed me to keep my overall pace at 9:33.

And while the park paths are clearly marked, including numerous loops and offshoots, I did lose track of direction at one point, and got to experience the surprise of approaching a landmark only to realize I’d already been there once, and didn’t think I was anywhere near it again.

If I’m going to do a five-mile trail run, I’ll need to put in some serious time at Quail Hollow, but I don’t think I’ll mind.

Year-to-date: 243.3 miles. Today’s the 246th day of 2013, so I’m 2.7 miles short of my goal, but barring disaster, I should be able to make that up this month and get myself back into a surplus.

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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