Monday: 8 miles. Slow strength builder on all the steep backdune hills I could scramble up. Deer runs, fallen logs, etc. Went about 45minutes north and then took the beach back with no shoes. I felt exquisitely shitty. The previous day's run must have bustes me up somethin' awful. Beautiful day in the sun and heat, so Im better off than most.
Tuesday: 8 miles. Slow ass shuffle to Riverside Park for a hill repeat or two, only to find the onliest good hill covered in thorns and deer flies. Turned around and shuffled over to the high school soccer field for some jogging sans shoes. This was the field I was escorted off of, one of two who didn't make the high school soccer team. Showed those fuckers. I peaked in my early 20s instead of my late teens.
Thursday: 5 miles. Just an easy flat run around home before heading to work. Averaged a 7:00ish minute pace, which was a nice surprise. I keep finding myself wearing my trusty old MT110's for everything. After buying a bunch of different road flats, "barefoot shoes," and such things, I get sick of even having to choose from my shoe rack. Aren't I supposed to be poor? Why do I have so many shoes? The 110's seldom give me blisters, have enough cushion for the road, have adequate traction on trails, don't weigh very much, and last longer than anything else I've had. My current pair was purchased in January and still has the obnoxious "KEEP UP" printed on the lugs. My last pair, shit you not, lasted from 2011(a test pair from NB that was sent for Pike's Peak). As much as I like shoes, I sure get a ton of miles out of a pair- more than the average person.
Saturday: 15(?) miles. Met up with Jeremiah in Grand Rapids for a jog around the city. Neighborhoods to a city park with dirt trails, then over to East Town for a couple repeats on the track. For a couple of out-of-shape hacks, a couple of 5min/mile paced 400s didn't feel to bad.
Sunday: 5 again. Nothing too special, but a nice jog in near perfect weather.
35 miles on the week. Not great, but an improvement over last week. It all felt pretty easy, so I'll creep the mileage up again.
Monday: 14 miles. 3.5 miles to Joe's House, 7.5 miles on the bike path with him, and 3.5 miles back.
Doing runs like this, with their relaxed pace(Joe is getting back into running after a significant layoff), remind me why I like ultra training. Slow "junk miles," if you believe in such things, beat the legs up and seem to have some benefit to them. Instead of fretting about pace, I'm glad I've come back around to getting out the door and logging miles.
Tuesday: 8 miles. Maybe one of the best runs I've ever had in my life. Sat on the beach and sipped coffee for what felt like way too long. I didn't feel like running at all, and enjoyed the relaxing sounds of being outside and not talking. After the coffee disappeared, I figured I might as well try a run. My calves were tight as piano wire, so I took a long, long time to stretch them and roll them out with a stick. The more I stretched, the more I realized that I'd be going slow, and that I shouldn't bother.
Then, I felt awesome. I shook off the ego and remembered that I started running trails because I like being in the woods but get bored with walking. I shuffled off, kept my steps tiny, and kept my back straight. I took a flat but root-laden path out to Muskegon Lake to shake the rust off. After a mile or two, I loosened up and felt nimble and springy for the first time in a quite a while. I probably wasn't going fast, but that's okay. I heard those subtle sounds in the woods that we hear when we focus our attention on the task at hand and stop thinking about other things. Time really flew by and I felt rejuvenated.
Wednesday: 8 miles. I'd call it a tempo, but the fast guys I ran with called it an easy run, so that's what it was. Evan and Rob came uo to jog the trails on the lakeshore. Hills, sand, and stairs. A dip in the lake at the halfway mark, and a great run overall. I'm reminded that the social aspect of running is what helps fill the gaps between moments of intrinsic motivation, and helps restore the mojo too. I've got little desire to actually make a living at running, but it does improve my life.
Thursday: Day off. Lacko of tine rather than motivation.
Friday: 8 miles. Friday 5k. 15minute jog warmup, ran the course, and then ran it again to pick up the course marker flags. 21 minutes or some such nonsense. To be fair, 2 of the 3 miles were in sand and hills. This course was pretty cool, and it gave me an opportunity to run hard without doing a solo workout. Even if I had the ambition to run to the track, I find it quite hard to push myself to give it everything I have. These Friday 5ks give a great group tempo atmosphere with enough competition to help us push each other, but in a way that is by no means stressful or intimidating for anyone. It's a reminder that many of us run not to flaunt our fitness or feed our egos, but just to celebrate and appreciate health. It's evident here. Physical exertion feels great, and it makes us all smile afterward. In our modern, overly-convenient world, appreciating and nurturing our vitality is a necessity.
Saturday: 2 miles. Yep. 2. 2 miles. Aimed for a long run, but my legs weren't impressed with the idea. I strolled to the end of the driveway, took my first running steps and thought, "Nope." I paused, then tried again. A few more steps this time. "Ouch. Shit." No one thing in particular hurt, but I felt as if I'd never run before in my life. Ankles, knees, quads, back, shoulders, eyeballs, etc. "Could I be that wrecked from a 5k?" Probably. Getting up the next morning at 5am to stack 12packs of bubbly corn syrup and gallons of milk probably exacerbated it. I went with plan B: A slow jog to the end of the road, where a faint deer run darts into the woods. I followed that to a trickling little creek, where I sat for a bit and thought about nothing. Isn't that a reason we run, just to turn our brains off for a while? After a few minutes of sitting silently, a few turkeys and a deer meandered by. I realized that this was better than a long run.
Sunday: 8 miles. I think. Met up with Ryan after work to do 90 minutes of hills. No pace or distance, but rather just a rolling watch and mutual prodding to keep moving. My bodily aches from the previous day were gone, and I was enjoying that weird thing between running and walking; the sweet spot where one could travel all day, and the heart and lungs can't tell whether the ground is flat, pointing up, or pointing down.
48 miles for the week? Hot Damn! This is actually a pretty good feeling for me. My runs were all great in their own ways, I had some quality in there, and the mileage is coming up steadily.
In other news, which is no less uninteresting,
I've decided to give my favorite distance another try. I registered for the Hungerford Games 50 mile in the end of September. Will I be competitive? Probably not. Too many fast people out there to expect to win handily these days. What I can do, however, is run as smart as I can and run steadily. My last ultras have been of the Run-Walk-Stop-Eat-Change Shoes-Run-Walk-Finish/Drop out variety, so I've got nowhere to go but up. After seeing my friend Dave relentlessly cover 100 miles at Kettle Morraine this year, it reminded me of why I love ultras of any distance: It's a long ass way to go, and if you cover it steadily and swiftly, the feeling is irreplaceable. Which brings me to the next cool thing:
I'm tentatively planning on running the 40-something mile Pictured Rocks Trail in Michigan's Upper Peninsula this month as a training run for the aforementioned 50miler. A self-supported one way traverse on the Lake Superior's coastline sounds like a pretty good "mini training camp" before the Fall semester starts. I'll attempt to log normal mileage in the days leading up to the trip, and tack on the 40miler as a peak. The following weeks will be spent doing academic bullshit, so a taper will happen naturally. That brings me to another cool thing:
The hay is damn near in the barn for graduate school applications. Observation hours are near completion, remaining prerequisites are scheduled, and schools are being selected. A few more t's need crossing and i's need dotting, but once I send the applications out, it's up to the choosy deities of the land of academia to decide my fate around the turn of the year. Some may find this stressful, but to me, it's just the imminent splitting of the trail. If I get into grad school this year, great. I'll have the path to a solid career as a Physical Therapist before me, which will help me finally get this "adulthood" bullshit going. If I get passed over,(I literally stared at the screen with fingers over the keys for several minutes just now and realized I have no plan B. All in, I guess).