Saturday, November 27, 2010

weekly recap- thanksgiving week

Monday- 7 miles- took off with Alex, Josh, and Brian. I had class in a little over an hour, so I had to bail early and turn around. I got in a little unexpected tempo work when I realized I had gone too far. The return trip was a really fun tempo effort in the low 6 minute/mile range. My feet carried me back to school quickly, where I picked up my backpack and ran to the College of Health and Human Services for class.

Tuesday- 10 miles-
AM - did an easy 4 alone before class. Why I don't get off my lazy butt more often and do this is a mystery. An easy morning run feels great. It was, however, freezing. I wore shorts, and my legs were red and butning by the time I got back.
PM- 5-6 with Jason and Shelly at Aman Park. A  random trip that resulted from a stop in Allendale to see Samantha. I wanted to double, but figured the day was shot from working in the lab in the afternoon and travelling home. Stopped at the pub afterward. An unexpectedly fun start to the holiday weekend.

Wednesday- 20 miles- Why not do my longest run in a month the day before a 5k? Started out great with a warmup from home on the gravel roads, then 15 miles or so at a 7:30ish minute/mile pace. I made it to Muskegon State Park(my goal for the run was to see Lake Michigan), and did a couple miles in the woods. After that, I realized my fatal mistake. I brough one jet blackberry GU for the entire trip. I bonked really hard and struggled to maintain a decent pace. Luckily for me, I was only a few miles from my Grandpa's house. I ran there and downed a can of Coke to try to recover. It worked, but he still insisted on giving me a ride home. So goes the life of a running hobo with a great family.

Thursday- 7 miles- Muskegon Turkey Trot 5k. Had a great morning with my family. I started the race in the back of the pack, but quickly moved past all the turkey suits to get up front. It ended up being a tempo effort to tie with a high school senior for first. I ran 5 seconds off PR pace with pretty minimal effort on the flat out/back course. A little fatigued from the previous day's 20 miler, I decided just to smile and wave at all the people running and walking the course. There were children everywhere, so I just decided to take it a little easy. Certainly not worth plowing over a little kid or an old lady just to win a Thanksgiving day race. After the race, I did a cooldown with my adversary(we talked throughout the entire race, so thats not quite the right word. Great kid who just ran the state xc meet) to meet up with Emily, my 8 year-old cousin. We ran the rest of the way in, then returned to meet our family. We all finished together and went inside for some laughs and a raffle for homemade baked goods. Not exactly an intense day, just the way I like it.

Black Friday Fat Ass Run- 16(?)miles Great run/party/goof-off session with the Hobby Joggas. We met at Muskegon State Park at about 9am for some running and socializing. We had a pretty good-sized group with Jason, Shelly, Mark, Brandon, Andy, Rick, Alex and Myself. This group is becoming increasingly more like family for me. 4-5hours of running and laughing went by really quickly as we all froze in the wind that blew off lake michigan. We started off in two groups, eac running at a comfortable, easy pace as we trotted through the singletracks that wind around the park. This is easily one of my favorite places within short driving distance to run. The singletrack switchbacks that run along the ridges in the park offer great views, technical terrain, and even some decent hillwork. There are cross-country ski trails that are wide with rolling hills, hiking trails that offer more remote locations and challenging climbs, and my personal favorite-barely visible deer runs on the "un-runable" sides of the hills. We spent a few miles traversing these barely-visible paths, ducking under logs and jumping through brush. I doubt that we're the only ones to use this trail, but it clearly sees very little foot traffic, especicially on the nastier paths. The leaf cover made running exceedingly difficult. Jason, Shelly and I were the only people wearing trail shoes, so we did have a slight advantage. Alex and Andy were both donning shoes with nothing more that smooth EVA outsoles. As I led through the deer trails, I slipped and bounced off the ground repeatedly. The trails were so fun to run that I couldn't slow down. The trees grabbed at my old sweatshirt as I dove through openings in the tree limbs.

We then headed to the dunes and out to Muskegon Lake. The dunes are typically pretty fun to run. It wasn't so much the case this time. It was very cold, and I am very unadjusted to it this early in the winter season. The wind whipped off the lake and sandblasted us as we ran along the frozen ridges. As with all running, there is some sort of sick pleasure in the discomfort, but I'm a bit of a wuss, so I was happy to get back into the trails.

Our group getting ready for a day of running
Left to right: Andy, Jason, Shelly, Me, Alex, Brandon, Rick
The last 6 miles of our adventure would be spent playing our own half-assed version of the Tarahumara "Ball Game." We essentially just ran around in the trails like a bunch of children(this wasn't exactly difficult for our group to do) and kicked the ball up the trail, taking turns surging forward after the soccer ball. We used a partially deflated soccer ball to keep it from rolling too far away from us. This game started out a little rough, then quickly became an absolute blast. Everyone got a turn kicking the ball as we ran through the woods. We climbed hills, cut through the swamp, and pretty much went wherever the ball took us. Our three miles of playing the game turned into six without anybody noticing. Playing the game tired us all out. 16 miles of running around tired out an entire pack of ultrarunners. I was beat, so there must be something to turning running into a game instead of a chore. We all had a great deal of fun. No worries about pace, distance, or time-other than what time we would head to the pub.

Alex and I discussing the merits of eating leftover thanksgiving sweet potatoes as run fuel.

Family Portrait(but not really): Rick, Alex, Shelly, Brandon, Mark, Jason, Andy, Me
Saturday- 0 miles. I felt great(other than a slightly tweaked ankle from the off-camber trails), but had just enough other stuff going on to take a day off. My dad's been pretty sick the last few days, so I hung out and helped him out a bit. I fiddled around a little with a car Im working on, did some homework with Samantha, and even did a little of the oh-so-dreaded Christmas shopping. Taking a day off felt good, but the day would have been perfect if I had seen some trails.

Sunday- 4 miles. Just a quick loop around the "block" after returning to school. It was a pretty effortless run, but the pace was still pretty fast(for me anyway). The day after a rest day is always a great time to reflect on progress made. 1 year ago, a hilly 4 miler at 7:30ish pace would have at least felt somewhat difficult. Having it feel so great is a good incentive to keep the mileage up and have fun. It takes a fair amount of giving to a hobby like running before you get anything back, so I'd like to make sure that I'm on good terms with my feet and lungs.

Total- 64miles. This is what I hope for winter to stay like, training wise. Other than the low-volume weekend, This felt great. I'm eager for snow to show up, changing the scenery and bringing with it some new challenges. I won't hesitate, however, to exchange a day of running for a day of skiing or snowmobiling when the fluff arrives.

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