Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Yankee Homecoming 10 Mile Race Recap

AM: 4 miles easy
PM: 1.5 mile w/u
Target: Top 4; 60-61 mins.
Actual: 5th; 61:33 (including bathroom break)
1 mile c/d
Total: 13 miles
Daily total: 17 miles

Coming off of my highest mileage week in the better part of a year, I really had no idea how this race would go. I haven't done a 10-mile race or tempo effort in quite some time, and I certainly wasn't tapering for the effort. Between Sunday's long trail run and Tuesday night's race, I managed to shuffle three short, easy runs around Salem, fervently willing my legs to miraculously spring to life. They didn't. Fortunately, the weather was on my side. After a hot, muggy Sunday and Monday, the humidity lifted and brought milder weather on Tuesday morning. Apparently this race is almost always run on what seems like the hottest day of the year, but that would not be the case for this edition. Warm and sunny, sure, but nothing like the conditions we've battled on runs and races in recent weeks.

Jordan and I snuck out of the office just past 4pm and hit the road for Newburyport. It would be at least a 40-minute drive, and we wanted to make sure there was plenty of time to locate parking, grab my number and jog around for a few minutes. No sooner had we turned on a side street near the race start/finish at Newburyport High School did we spot Brian Harvey, Stef Penn and Ian Nurse--all Boston-dwelling BAA friends--and another BAA runner, Melissa, who had hitched a ride with them. After grabbing my number we jogged along the waterfront together, chatting about the race and discussing our collective odds of finishing in the money. Both Brian and I were chagrined to learn that several B-level Africans were in attendance, as were accomplished New England runners Heidi Westover and Matt Pelletier. My "rock-bottom" goal of finishing fourth and barely earning back more than my entry fee was now looking like the best case scenario.

The 5k took off at 6pm, with the 10-mile field lining up 10 minutes later. Just before the start, I also spotted the two women who had beaten me when I was seeing stars on the sidelines during the Seacoast Seven last weekend. I was confident I should be able to beat them in normal (i.e., non-heat wave) conditions, but nonetheless I found myself growing even more dejected. What I'd naively hoped would be a lighthearted romp was now turning grimly serious. A few seconds later, we were off--and were we ever. I'd been warned by Ian that the first mile was fast--both due to the flat/downhill terrain, and to the excessive eagerness of the racers--and his assessment was proven accurate. I split 5:45 and was well off the back of the lead Africans, and of Heidi, and of the two women from the Seacoast race. This was a terrible idea, I thought, not for the last time. My mood did not improve two miles later when we came upon the slower end of the 5k field in downtown Newburyport and I spent the better part of ten minutes zigging and zagging this way and that in order to avoid bulldozing the young, the old, the infirm and the four-legged. I'm no race director, but if I were in charge I might suggest a larger buffer than 10 minutes between the two events' start times. Just a thought.

Around four miles in my pace and effort began to normalize, but for the first time I felt my stomach begin to rumble ominously. Pretend it's not happening, I instructed myself, as if that's ever actually worked before. I'd since passed one of the Seacoast Seven women, but the other one--and any other female competitors--was nowhere to be seen. The downtown spectator crowds had dwindled as we approached a quieter residential area, but there were still clumps of people grouped at regular intervals near street crossings and in front yards. It would've been a welcome diversion, had another diversion of sorts not been brewing down below. No sooner had I split five miles (just a few ticks under 30 minutes) and begun running uphill did I begin scanning the perimeter, head on a swivel, for any secluded wooded areas or sections of particularly dense foliage that were also far enough away from the improbably large crowds--since when are there spectators at a random road race on a Tuesday night?!--to not permanently scar any impressionable young children. (A personal aside: My wonderful mom, who has recently purchased a laptop computer for the first time in her life and has since become a regular reader of my blog despite having no personal proclivity towards running, finds the idea of doing one's business in a Port-a-Potty disgusting. She is a layperson. I get it. In her mind, it's on par with the equally inconceivable idea of using the restroom on a plane. Mom, I'm sorry you had to find out this way, but it is a stone-cold reality of my life as a runner that a Port-a-Potty is often best case scenario. As it turns out, I sometimes use the bathroom in the woods. And by "sometimes," I mean all the time. And by "all the time," I am including mile 7 of this race. Please don't view this as any parenting failure on your part.) Was I still running? Sure. Was my head in the metaphorical game? Hardly. I barely even noticed the rolling terrain, or the fact that I was swiftly gaining on the other Seacoast Seven runner. There were more pressing issues to attend to.

Once I did, and was back on the road again, I found an inexplicable second wind. Sure, my legs were heavy, but there were only three miles to go and the most challenging terrain was behind us. At one point a few minutes later, a bystander had pointed to me and yelled, "You're fifth female!" Shortly thereafter, I'd passed the other Seacoast Seven woman (who subsequently appeared to drop out), and though I'm no math whiz I knew that meant I'd be finishing in the money. There were no other women in sight, but a furtive backward glance told me there were none gaining either. Knowing I had another race in less than 48 hours, I resisted the urge to press the pace and instead relaxed into a comfortably hard effort for the remainder of the run. I was less than a mile from the finish when another spectator cheered, "You're almost there! Fifth place!" Waaaait a minute. How did that happen?! I was so confused that I literally held up five fingers toward him and reiterated, "Five?" Perhaps I'd misunderstood. But no, he nodded in agreement and gave me a vigorous thumbs up, apparently unaware that this was the worst possible news I could've received at this juncture. Somehow the previous person had miscounted. To be honest, it wouldn't have mattered--results would later confirm I was over two minutes behind fourth place finisher Heidi Westover--but still, the distinction was disappointing. I'd hoped to at least finish on the podium, and that was clearly not happening.

As I rounded the final bend and charged the uphill finish into the high school parking lot and toward the finish line, a glance at the clock confirmed I would finish well outside my goal time. Zero for two, awesome. But despite failing to achieve either of the objectives I'd listed at the outset, I was not nearly as dejected as one would expect. If you subtract my bathroom detour, I would've come in right at 61-flat, no small feat considering I could barely shuffle through four easy miles this morning. Don't get me wrong; racing 10 miles slower than marathon pace is always humbling, regardless of any asterisks applied to the effort. But with over 10 weeks to until Hartford and a 100% healthy body, I'm confident I can get there. And I'll definitely return to this terrific local event again to redeem myself!

P.S. Later that evening, we ate dinner with Brian (fellow fifth-placer), Ian (dropped out) and Stef (bum glute) at a divey sports bar called Winners. It wasn't, and we weren't, and the irony was not lost on us. But they did make a mean pizza burger.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

(Triple digit!) Week in Review

101 miles
12 runs
15-mile long run
3 runs in Pittsburgh
9 avocados

For the first time since October, I finally broke the century barrier this week--and actually felt good doing it! Maybe there's something to this whole "gradual progression" business. It helped that the weather was much milder, and that I found a great park and nice rail trail while traveling for work in Pittsburgh mid-week. I punctuated the week with an epic fall on the Lincoln trails at Walden Pond on Sunday, but it was still well worth the time spent with friends and a final run with Terry before he and Carly move later next week.

Speaking of next week, I decided today (possibly in a thirst-induced daze at the end of our challenging trail run) to sign up for the Yankee Homecoming 10 Miler in Newburyport on Tuesday night. I'm definitely not race ready, but the prize money goes four deep and I think/hope it's a bit out of the way for most of the metro area's heavy hitters. This wouldn't be an entirely big deal except for the fact that I'm also committed to the Beverly Yankee Homecoming 5k on Thursday night, a race I won last year which boasts exactly zero prize money but does come with hometown bragging rights. Considering how fatigued and wobbly my legs felt at the end of today's effort, I'll need a miraculous turnaround between now and Tuesday if I want to turn in any halfway respectable times. Either way, next week is sure to bring opportunities for future fitness gains!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fall Marathon(s) Announcement!

After much consideration, I am pleased to announce I will be racing not one, but two, fantastic marathons this fall! On October 12th I will be competing for over $6000 in prize money as part of the New England's Finest program at the ING Hartford Marathon. Since moving to the Boston area I've heard nothing but positive comments about this race and New England's Finest, and I'm incredibly excited to have been invited to participate. Last year's winner and a new friend of mine, Hilary Dionne, will be returning to defend her title and improve upon her 2:40 showing. I'm hopeful that we can work together throughout the race and bring out the best in each other.

A mere eight weeks later, I will be putting it all on the line and aiming for the coveted Olympic Trials "A" standard at the Cal International Marathon in Sacramento. CIM is a screaming fast, net downhill, barely legal course that saw upwards of 20+ women qualify for the 2012 Trials (on the last day of the open window, no less). I have no doubt that this is my best opportunity to run fast and attain the "A" standard in 2013, which has always been my primary objective.

As someone who barely runs two marathons a year, much less two in the same quarter, I was initially daunted by the prospect of competing at both these events. However, Coach Jordan is confident in my abilities, both to run fast at each race and to recover adequately between them. I'll admit, having full knowledge of my current state of fitness (or lack thereof) I'm a bit intimidated, but as I've done countless times before I'll simply need to put my head down, grind out the miles and trust the process. And drink lots of Frappuccinos.

Time to enjoy the hard work!  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Week in Review

95 miles
5 doubles
1 road race disaster
16-mile long run success
4 AFDs

This week was the ultimate test of mental and physical fortitude, as the relentless heat wave continued to grip the Northeast with absolutely no mercy. The weather finally broke late Saturday night, but until that point every run felt like a death march. 

No more acutely was this emphasized than at Saturday's Seacoast Seven, a road race in Gloucester that I'd scouted online because it was less than 30 minutes from our house and promised prize money (though how much was uncertain, apparently not worth mention on the race web site). But even as Jordan and I warmed up at Stage Fort Park early Saturday morning, I knew it was a bad idea. The mercury was already well past 80 with humidity to match, and the course that was billed online as "challenging" proved to be "hilly as sh@#" within the first 400 meters. I found myself in a comfortable lead that began to grow increasingly less comfortable as the race progressed--sure enough, as I came to a complete standstill at the 4-mile water stop to douse myself, I began to see spots. I had no choice but to take a break for a few minutes and regain my composure, watching helplessly as two other women (one wearing Nike Tempo shorts?!?--shoot me) trotted past. I asked a nearby race official if there were a shortcut back to the finish, having already thrown in the proverbial towel, and was assured there was not. So I started jogging, deciding a few miles later to cross the finish line only because there might be prize money for third place and I might be able to at least win back my entry fee. Fortunately this proved to be true, and though I hardly deserved it I've already deposited the $50 check.

In sharp contrast, Sunday's group long run was an absolute delight. Jordan and I drove to Harvard and met Terry, Emily, Hilary Dionne (2:39 at this year's Boston), Irish Kevin and several other BAA runners for a relaxed jaunt along the river, across the Emerald Necklace, around the Arboretum and back. With the temperature "only" in the upper 70s at midday we were quite comfortable, and despite this being my longest run in months there were only a few sections where I found myself struggling. I may not be getting fit just yet, but I'm slowly getting stronger. For now that's enough.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Week in Review

90 miles
11 runs
1 trail race victory
3 runs in PVD
12 avocados

Still not quite the triple digits I was hoping for, but overall I'm pleased with this week especially in light of the recent heat wave that has relentlessly gripped all of New England. Having spent plenty of summers on the precipice of hell in Atlanta, Charlotte and East Texas, I can honestly say this ranks right up there with the sweatiest of them, and with no sign of breaking for the next week.

It probably didn't help that my running companion for the weekend, Kim, detests getting up early on principle. Honestly, though, with weather like this there's really no "good" time to be outside so you might as well enjoy a few extra hours of sleep when you can. Our A-team group of myself, Jordan, Pat and Kim didn't make it out the door for our Sunday 12-miler until close to noon. By that point, even the shaded trails we sought out didn't do much to shield us from the elements. We survived, but it wasn't pretty.

That said, it was all worth it for a fun weekend in Providence spent running, eating, lounging, watching Le Tour (and reruns of Honey Boo Boo in the afternoon when Kim and I were alone) and frying things. For Saturday dinner the boys grilled burgers outside while Kim and I slaved over a hot fry-o-lator (gifted to the two lovebirds by Molly for their nuptials) preparing homemade tortilla chips and, by far the highlight of the evening, fried pickles. No EPO needed, folks; the secret sauce of the Providence Olympic contingent is a little batter, a little canola oil and a lot of salt. Mmmm, delicious perfection.

Step 1: Spend $8 on ridiculous couture Whole Foods pickles

Step 2: Batter, fry, repeat

Step 3: Enjoy a tasty golden-brown treat!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hillies Havoc 4 Mile Trail Race

AM: 10k easy
PM: 3 mile w/u
Target: win, don't get lost, don't fall
Actual: 2 for 3

First place. OVERALL. North Shore Timing don't lie, y'all.

Total: 7 miles
Daily total: 13+ miles

For the second Thursday in a row, this time in the evening, Jordan and I would be setting up the 'ol Karhu tent for the next installment of the North Shore YMCA Road Race Series. Despite the series moniker, this would actually be its sole trail race, although on the drive up I questioned how seriously that distinction should be interpreted. Would it be an over-the-river-and-through-the-woods, single track, legit, trail trail, or simply a glorified crushed gravel bike path? Since Haverhill was a tiny town almost a full hour north of Salem (which is already a solid 30 minutes north of the city), neither I nor any of my local running buddies had ever heard of, much less ventured up to, the trails at Winnekenni Park before.

Fortunately I arrived early (or rather Jordan, who was coming to the race directly from a sales trip in Rochester, was running late) and had some time to explore the race course on an extended warmup. I followed the trailhead into the woods, which picked up within a few hundred meters of the parking area, and was instantly captivated. I may not be the most adroit trail runner in a variety of ways--I think last weekend's misadventure with Emily proved I'm no Christopher Columbus (or maybe I am, since he ended up nowhere near where he was supposed to be either), and anyone who's seen me shuffling along on the roads can attest that I'm no nimble doe--but I must admit I'm a sucker for the free-spirited, rambling idea of them. And this trail, at least the part I saw on my out-and-back warmup, was right up my alley: wide, soft dirt paths, shrouded by a canopy of trees, minimally rocky and rooty but still very much in the depths of a forest. I turned around with reluctance 12 minutes later, knowing Jordan would be arriving soon and we would need to set up our branded area, but my entire countenance had shifted. On the drive up I'd been tired, cranky and decidedly not motivated to run a hard effort on this sticky, soupy, potentially thunderstorm-y summer evening after a long day of work, but now I couldn't wait to be set free on the path ahead. 

Forty minutes later, Jordan and I toed the starting line (which was essentially an arbitrary marker in the middle of a grass field) and eyed the competition. There didn't look to be many other contenders except a tall, lanky guy in his early twenties wearing neon yellow Nike shorts. I suggested to Jordan, who was even more tired and more grumpy than I had been previously and had done another trail race the night before with one of his accounts in Rochester, that he just run with me and not push too hard. I even joked about recreating my (in)famous finish-line-hand-holding pose (now available at a Sears Portrait Studio near you!), which I first pioneered with Alice Rogers at a Whitewater Center trail race and then replicated a mere week later with Caitlin at a women's only 5-miler (the same depth of girl power and female solidarity having never been witnessed by the good people of Columbia, South Carolina before or since). He didn't acknowledge my suggestion, but he didn't have to. I knew he'd never actually do it. What self-respecting male would?!

Previously the best moment of my entire life.

Less than a minute later we were off, sprinting across the meadow and into the trail where I'd entered it before. It became immediately clear that our assessment of the field was spot on. No one had gone ahead of us, but I could hear breathing close behind that a furtive glance confirmed was emanating from Neon Shorts. For the first 2k or so we traversed the exact same route where I'd warmed up, which was almost completely flat and not very technical, and Neon Shorts' breathing grew fainter as Jordan and I began to pull away. That was easy, I thought. But soon the trail grew narrower, rockier, noticeably more technical, and suddenly I was the one being left behind. I watched with jealousy as Jordan nimbly navigated the increasingly challenging terrain, bounding over obstacles with the dexterity of a mountain goat, while I awkwardly and slowly plodded along in his wake. Neon Shorts had to be gaining on me. Sure enough, around 3k--although I'm only guessing, since during my earlier nature-infused euphoria I'd decided to "just, you know, run" without using my watch or even bothering to note the time of day at the start--the path took a sharp, improbable right turn up what I'm pretty sure could be described as an escarpment--the mere fact that I haven't heard that word since seventh grade geography indicates how decidedly out of my element I actually was out here in the wild--and I was forced to come to a dead stop, reach out to gain leverage from a nearby tree, and oh-so-gracefully hoist myself up and over. Neon Shorts passed me without so much as a sideways glance.

For the next few minutes, as the trail remained far too technical for me to gain any momentum, I resigned myself to third place with no hope of a Kodak-worthy finish. But then the path smoothed out again and I found myself overtaking Neon Shorts almost immediately. Like Jordan (who was out of sight by this point), he was far more adept than me at negotiating the trail, but the superiority of my aerobic fitness quickly asserted myself once the playing field (literally) leveled out. Though the trail soon narrowed again, hairpinning sharply this way and that, surrounded on all sides by thick, cloying brush, the ground remained smooth and a little muddy. Wait, make that a lot muddy. Actually--OOF! The next thing I knew I was on the ground, and hard, with an audible grunt. My right knee bore the brunt of the fall, but after pausing for a moment to mentally assess the condition of all my important body parts, I realized I was mostly no worse for the wear. The same clay-like mud that had caused me to slip like a cartoon character on a banana peel had also broken my fall in the softest way possible, resulting in a nasty scrape and mud-caked palms but nothing serious. Not wanting to risk being overtaken by Neon Shorts again, I was quickly up and on my way.

Approximately 20 minutes into the race the trail cleared, and I was directed by volunteers onto the paved shoulder of a nearby road. This was a relief, since there had been several critical decision-making junctures within the woods where I could have (and, for all I'd known at the time, actually did) take a wrong turn, but the presence of YMCA volunteers at least meant I was on the right track. Shortly thereafter I spotted Jordan up ahead in the distance but didn't see Neon Shorts anywhere behind. While I was relieved that my spot was secure, I was disappointed that my fabled photo finish with Jordan wouldn't take place. But then, inexplicably, I seemed to be gaining on him, and fast. As I entered one more short trail section and burst out onto the opposite side of the field where we'd started, it became apparent that he was waiting for me. Even more incredulously, he turned and said only a tad begrudgingly, "Are we really going to do the hand-holding thing?" Um, YES.

Moments after the sweetest words he's ever said to me.

Unfortunately, it seems as though the paparazzi was unprepared for our triumphant display, because the only photo I was able to secure was snapped just a split-second too late. It looks like we're just out for a lackadaisical stroll, which I suppose in some sense we were. This only means we'll have to replicate the pose again at another race sometime soon. I'm sure Jordan can't wait!

Scars of battle

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Week in Review

85 miles
11 runs
1 road race victory
1 hitchhiking incident
10? avocados 

This wasn't a perfect first week of training, but it was a start. I'm learning pretty quickly that I need to relinquish the mindset of making direct comparisons to last summer. Back in the glory days of July '12, it was so easy, so seamless (at least in hindsight) to transition into triple digits. This time around I seem to be working harder and struggling more on "easy" runs, although in my defense I think it has to be due in no small part to this oppressive heat (and humidity!) wave we're dealing with. You would think that as a born and raised Southerner I would be inured to it by now, but sadly that doesn't appear to be the case. Saturday's field trip to hell left me nauseous and borderline comatose for the remainder of the day, so by the time my Sunday long-ish run with Carly and Emily rolled around I was defeated before I even began. I actually had to stop and walk at the end of what was supposed to be a relaxed 12-miler, which I suppose would've been amusing in a self-deprecating sort of way except I was too exhausted and defeated to muster a chuckle. (I love how Emily, who knows me so well, asked me afterward in a tone of complete sincerity, "Are you sure you're drinking enough Frappuccinos?") Here's to hoping next week is better, cooler, and all around more conducive to raising the mileage totals!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Lynn Woods "Long Run"

Emily and I have been meaning to get out to Lynn Woods for quite some time. In particular, I've heard rave reviews from North Shore residents and many of the Thursday night Wicked crew. In fact, at a 4th of July BBQ with said Wicked runners I spent several minutes chatting with my friend Mickel about the possibility of a Saturday morning group run. I passed along the news to Emily, and we agreed to meet up with their crew, at least at the outset so we could discern the lay of the land.

Ah, the best laid plans.

For starters, things derailed when I found out at 7:45am that the Salem contingent was going to the trails at 8:00. Since Emily had already texted me late the previous evening about her disinclination toward an early run, I knew it wasn't going to happen. By the time she woke up and we both got moving, it was slightly past 10am and solidly past 90 degrees outside. But hey, we thought, who cares? We hadn't seen each other in over a month, plus we were both admittedly slow and out of shape, so we were content to meander around and explore the trails for an hour or so without being in any danger of succumbing to the weather's ill effects.

What was that part about best laid plans?

Just as we were about to set off along the main fire road, I encountered a kind gentleman leaving the park who overheard that it was our first visit and offered to give us a trail map. "At least this way you won't get lost!" he said with an ominous (in hindsight) chuckle. I tucked it away into a plastic baggie that was lying around on my floorboard, and off we went. Despite the oppressive heat, we both quickly agreed that the park was beautiful, a perfect mix of wide open fire roads and winding single-track paths. We tried sections of both, all of which at some point seemed to intersect with each other. So when we found ourselves approaching our cars at the 55-minute mark but wanted to add on a few minutes of additional distance, we just assumed that taking a still-unexplored trail just off the main thoroughfare would be a simple solution. At some point it would surely end up back where we'd started.

That line of reasoning came to a dejected, thirsty halt when our "quick add-on trail" deposited us in the back parking lot of a car dealership off Route 1. You wouldn't have to be super familiar with the area to deduce that we were nowhere close to where we needed to be. Instead of panicking, we tiptoed into said dealership, attempting to drink as much water as possible from their cooler whilst not raising too much alarm from the clean-cut salespeople and suburban families who were there enjoying a wholesome Saturday afternoon. With our sweaty, dripping clothes and dirt-caked legs, we looked like some sort of escaped wildlife exhibit. Past the point of self-consciousness about our disheveled state, we approached the receptionist behind the desk and explained where we were trying to go, assisted by the visual aid of our (increasingly useless) map. "Oh, I know where you mean," she said. And then, in response to our crucial follow-up question: "Left. You definitely want to go left."

Armed with this information and a renewed sense of purpose, we set off along the sidewalk adjacent to Route 1, trying to ignore the boiling mid-day sun as it glared down at us. (Looking back, I'm confident I can pinpoint this particular section as the reason why my eyelids were sunburned the next day.) We ran past a steaming car, acrid smoke seething from its engine as it sputtered to the side of the road, and I said optimistically (and, I must admit, with just a hint of smugness), "See, it could always be worse!"

Oh, and could it. I have too much pride and not enough energy to detail the remainder of our misadventure, but I can tell you it included all of the following: another section of trail, another failed attempt to interpret the map (It's all lines and squiggles! Where are the words?? Use your words!) another dead end, another vehicle-related establishment (this time, a garage, where three friendly if not slightly lecherous men offered us ice cold water and yet another set of directions) and, finally, admission of defeat and a life-saving ride back to our vehicles from none other than the family members of the woman with the blown-out car. Honestly, you can't make this stuff up.

Total time elapsed: 2 hours 32 minutes
Total time spent running: 1 hour 46 minutes
Total distance covered: 13 miles max

"Map"of Lynn Woods. You can see Route 1 at the upper left...and where we parked,  Great Woods entrance, down near the bottom right. One could say the two locations are diametric opposites.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th! Firecracker 4 Mile Race Recap

1.5 mile w/u
Target: Win, don't die of heat stroke
Actual: 23:47, 1st place female, 9th overall
1 mile c/d
Total: 6.5 miles

Full disclosure: if Karhu and Craft didn't sponsor the YMCA North Shore Road Race Series, there's no way I would've been able to summon the energy to get up early and race this morning. It's a holiday and, more importantly, it's just way too hot. In fact, when I took my first few steps out the door I was instantly reminded of the oppressive weather from another four-mile race in Charlotte several years ago. As we loaded up the car just before 7am, the temperature was already over 80 with a dew point of around 73. And I thought I left this kind of racing weather behind when I moved to New England?!

Weather aside, another reason this race wouldn't exactly be my A-game performance is because, well, I haven't really been training. After Duluth I flew straight to California for the Fleet Feet Conference, where I was content to log some easy miles each day (including one amazing run with my former Queens teammate/roomie, Tanya!) and not much else. My self-prescribed "summer training season" kicked off just this Monday, with some strides on the Common Tuesday night accounting for the only semblance of speedwork I've done in over a month. So, as stated above, the goal for today was to win and try not to overheat. It was also a checkpoint to confirm that my leg could feel good during (and after) a relatively hard outing.

Overall, I'm happy to report that I achieved all of these goals. I never really pressed beyond a tempo effort and therefore didn't push my body beyond a tolerable temperature, even on the long, grinding hill that comprised half of the fourth mile. Most importantly, the leg felt completely normal and responded just fine to the increased stress. This may have been one of my slowest race times in years, but I couldn't be happier!