Monday, November 8, 2010

A Little Catch-Up

I haven't updated this in a while. Since the marathon, My running has been really unstructured. I've barely even documented it. The past two weeks have been a great time for running, especially since I've taken some pressure off of myself. I wanted to really focus on listening to my body and just running when it felt fun. Suprisingly enough, I still managed a couple weeks in the low 50's, even if it was really lacking any realy purpose. The weather was crisp and cool for a while, so why not just get out and ejoy it? Some of the highlights included some great trail runs with my friends Mark, Jason, and Shelly. These runs are what running is all about for me. We manage to use our residual fitness from a spring/summer of heavy training to propel ourselves all over the most scenic places West Michigan has to offer. Heading from the wetlands to the dunes to the beach to the leaf-covered trails feels nearly effortless as we explore the seemingly new area. The leaves going from the trees to the ground makes running(especially barefoot and in minimalist shoes) a new experience, even on the same trusty old trails. Leaving the watch, water bottle, and the ego at home for a change felt great.

Mark(left), Jason(right), and I looking cool for Shelly's new camera

Trying to find the roots under the leaves before they find my foot keeps things interesting.

Yes, we are dorks, no, thats probably not changing soon.
Last weekend was the Alger Heights 5k, a costume race held on Halloween. I got up and met Jason, Shelly, Scott, Brandon and Roger for some laughs and a little running. To maintain my last shred of professionalism, I'll just say that I overindulged at a Halloween party the night before and that I shouldn't have. I will, however, take some pride that I ran a sub 19minute 5k, with jeans, wolverine claws, a flannel shirt, a hangover, and roughly 2 hours of sleep. It was fun to run a relaxed race and just let the speed happen(sort of, I was humbled a little by the short, fast race). It was a great way to spend time with friends and get moving on a day in which the couch or a nap outside was beckoning(and eventually won me over later that day). Luckily for me, I had a costume still on from the night before to wear to the race. Running in jeans was not quite comfortable, but it was fun nonetheless.

Shelly and I happened to both be X-men for halloween. Great minds think alike.
 Another great side of running has been a sligh focus on speed when the timing is right. There are a few 5 and 10k races coming up that are great fun with little pressure. I have the support of a group of tremendous runners that help me break out of my ruts and do some actual speed work once in a while. The workouts hurt, but anyone who loves running, exercise, or pushing themselves in any way understands how the pain can be somewhat pleasureable. Time and pain seem minimal when you have a good group of friends to help you get through the tough workouts. My friends Alex, Joey, and Evan show strength in their running that I can only pretend to have, and its pretty inspiring to watch how hard they can push themselves. I may be the slowest guy in our club, but going sub-5 pace for a whole workout is good enough for this hobby jogger.

The last two weeks have been scattered with days off for a variety of reasons. I have no big races to shoot for, the nearest one being next year. I've been making a few weekly trips to the pool and twice-weekly visits to the gym instead of running once or twice daily. I have no real ambitions in the weight room, but I recognize the benefits of strength training and want to obtain some of them. Its been a great, well-timed season of racing and trainng-its time to take a break and just let the body rest. Some worry about detraining, but I can't say I have that concern. If I can go from wheezing my way to one 10:00/mile mile to running 50x 8:30/miles in three years, then a couple months of goofing around should be just what the body needs. There's something less daunting about a task after we've already reached it, and taking a rest is no sign of weakness. Guys like Scott Jurek and Yiannis Kuoros have been known to not run at all after strenuous seasons or goal races. Considering that they're a couple of the fastest beings on two legs, I'll follow their example in my quest for slightly-above-averageness.
This week concluded with a nice long run with Jason, Shelly, and Mark on the North Country Trail. We ran a nice out/back and enojyed running a little distance for a change. The run was somewhere between 19 and 20 miles on some pretty smooth singletrack. Though its been about 10 years since my last hunting trip, the cool air and color reminds me of the long hike through the woods with my dad to get to our hunting blinds. The sitting all day would drive me crazy, but the fast hike through the woods, over streams, and the sound of crunching leaves will always come to mind when I run through the fall landscape.

Happy trails, roads, treadmills belts, etc. everyone.

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