First, let me apologize for my blog looking all messy-like today. I’m screwing around with some stuff with the goal of moving my personal Web site to WordPress, so my blog and my Web site can live together in perfect harmony one day in the near future. For now — well, bear with me.
Now. Back to the important stuff, like my run with Pacers Silver Spring fun runners last night. We did the Sligo-Ritchie loop, a 4.55-mile route that starts with a few lovely, flat miles on Sligo Creek Trail before it heads up Ritchie Avenue, which is steep enough to feel less like aerobic exercise and more like a set of leg presses.
After barely eking out an 8-minute-mile pace at the Crystal City Twilighter 5K last weekend, I wasn’t about to volunteer myself for the 8-minute-mile group for this hilly sweatfest. I hung back, waiting to declare my usual 8:30-9-ish-let’s-just-see-where-the-run-takes-us pace.
“Oh, c’mon,” said one of my regular running partners, a great pacer who’s training for this crazy marathon in Utah that involves climbing 2,000 feet over 26.2 miles. “You know we’ll end up going 8-minute pace anyway.”
I’m a sucker for an ego boost, and this sounded like one to me, so I bounded out the door behind him, and we headed out for what turned out to be a longer and hillier run than either of us anticipated.
Have I mentioned I can’t find my way out of a paper bag? Heck, I couldn’t find my way out of our building for a good month (to be fair, our building is like a snakepit. So confusing!). You know where this is headed: Rather than heading up the aforementioned killer hill, we chose to visit its cousin, Maple Avenue, in an extended, 5.76-mile version of the run everyone else did. Turns out Maple Avenue is quite a quad-burner itself.
When we realized our mistake, we had a few choices: Follow the sketchy directions we received from friendly but uninformed dog-walkers, or go the safe route and backtrack. We chose the latter, and sucked it up on yet another giant hill.
Keep in mind that I’ve recently committed myself to an amped-up version of my usual core routine to get my body ready for the Marine Corps Marathon, which I’m still hoping to run this year. Anyone doubting exactly how much runners rely on our core muscles to move us needs to do a few 5-minute planks on the BOSU, then run a hard hill workout the next day. Every step I took, my abs reminded me that really, they’d already had their workout for the week.
Know what, though? It was an awesome run. We were totally synced pace-wise. Just as I’d start to worry I was slowing us up, my buddy (who, based on the number and age of his children, must be about 50) would apologize for holding us back. Other times, we both seemed to hit our stride simultaneously.
And we kept each other honest, averaging 8:23 minute-miles, which erased all the self-doubt lurking in my mind after my disappointing 5K on Saturday.
Almost all the other runners were back by the time we finished, and many were waiting outside. That didn’t stop me from taking off my technical T-shirt and wringing it out as I described our adventure, sending rivers of sweat down Fenton Street.
My friend Liz, who just qualified for the Boston Marathon last March (at her first marathon ever, I might add), looked at me with a mix of disgust and admiration (a cocktail of emotions only a runner or endurance athlete can appreciate).
“Dude,” she said, “You’re a baller.”
When’s the last time getting lost netted you a compliment like that?
In other news, Michelle at Runnin’ Down A Dream let me do a guest post on her awesome blog! Check it out here. Regular readers of this blog will recognize the mind-games theme; I tried to narrow down the tips that helped me most for a sort of greatest-hits list.