Thursday, July 5, 2012

No Rest For the Wicked

AM: 8 miles
PM: 2 mile w/u + strides
Target: 5k uptempo
Actual: 5k in 18:57
1 mile c/d
Daily total: 14 miles

Since moving to Salem a few weeks ago, Jordan and I have settled on a couple running routes through town that we repeat most days. As much as I like these routes (and Jordan, for that matter), I've definitely been looking forward to meeting new people and exploring some new roads. Last week I did a quick search online to learn more about a local running group I'd heard about previously, and discovered that every Thursday night the "No Rest For the Wicked Weekly 5k" is held starting just a few minutes' jog away from our house. This "race" is actually just an informal gathering of local runners who tempo, jog, walk or otherwise traverse a 5k road loop through town. Today, despite having slogged miserably through my morning run--suffice it to say the second 100-mile week has been much less of a treat than the first--I reasoned I had nothing to lose by lacing 'em up, meeting the group and trying to loosen up the legs with some uptempo running.

A half hour before the appointed start time, I jogged over to Washington Square--which is actually a triangle--and shuffled through a few warmup laps. I saw a group of fit-looking people forming near the main entrance and assumed they were my new running buddies. Almost 20 people had assembled by the appointed 6:45 start time, and after a round table of introductions and pace goals (conducted, I suspect, mostly for my benefit, which I appreciated) we were off. Based on the aforementioned introductions I deduced I'd likely be sticking with a few of the front-running guys, and less than two minutes in I could tell I was correct. Having not done much uptempo work in recent weeks (hell, months) I had a difficult time gauging pace but guessed we were running in the low 6-minute range. Much to my surprise given how weary my legs have been the past few days, the pace came quite naturally. I didn't want to break from the guys and get totally lost (even though, as it turned out, our course retraced Jordan's and my morning run almost exactly but in reverse), so I opted to stick close by instead of pressing on the gas. The final half mile or so was a bit of an obstacle course as we ran back into the congested downtown area and bobbed and weaved around some traffic, but I finished the course feeling no more winded or fatigued than when I'd started. Inexplicably, running close to marathon pace actually felt better than the 7:00-8:00 "easy" runs of the previous few days.

In the context of my high-mileage summer training, I definitely think this will be a worthwhile run to attend when possible. Everyone was super friendly and welcoming--and they go out for pizza and beers afterward, which is guaranteed to entice Jordan to join--and it's ridiculously easy to jog four minutes over from our new place to meet them. Now that I know the course, I think I'll aim to lock into goal marathon pace (5:55-6:00) every time I run this loop. Being able to manage that comfortably in the summer months after running 8-10 miles in the morning will be a great way to segue into fall marathon training.