This fall I'm experimenting with re-entry into running; it must be a slow and careful process considering my hip health, which from now on will be an important factor. My seventh (?) Stone Cat Marathon is in early November and I've been building up my long runs cautiously.
A few weeks ago I tested my fitness at the Harwich Cranberry Harvest Half Marathon, which was a rolling course on roads. I ran better than I expected, power-wogging, to average a 10:54 pace per mile. In the past, my 13.1 mile road finishes were under two-hours. Times are different; A major, side-lining, hip injury like FAI (look it up) will change one's pace and perspective. Today I am happy to gambol through the woods at any speed.
Taking training precautions —so my November trail marathon isn't a complete "slog fest"— I devised a long run of 18+ miles for this weekend. In doing so, I signed up for the TARC half-marathon (in Great Brook Farm, Carlisle, MA) and planned on completing the race before heading back out for an additional loop of 6.2 miles or more. During the half I was mindful of my objectives and did not run too hard in the final quarter. (2:46 finish.)
I felt good at seven miles (when I usually wish to call it a day) and still solid at 13 miles. What a relief. In contrast, last weekend's long run in Ward Reservation (Andover, MA) was difficult on my hips, lower back and confidence. I ran alone (which I usually love), got intentionally lost (as a way of adding more miles), and negotiated with an upset stomach (due to a waist pack).
Yesterday was refreshingly wonderful— I found myself in the zone a few times, not poo-pooing myself, and ready to go out for a third loop. With the company of Julie O and Michelle R, 13-19 miles was a treat. We caught up on life; I felt nostalgic, grateful, and ooby. We rolled into the Start/Finish area and Julie and Michelle were in the 50k so they scampered off for another lap. I ran out to find Peter, who was in the marathon, and as I left the abundant aid station, I spied him along the large field. What great timing. Running a section of his final lap with him was a gift. He was strong and positive; I wish I could have accompanied him on the whole loop but I was at my training goal distance and didn't want to test my luck.
In the end I tallied 22 miles without feeling like ripe horse manure. If I play it smart these next three weeks, I can head into Stone Cat healthy and with my training homework complete.
A big thank you to the TARC community! The RD's (Josh and Jerimy), an army of volunteers,
Norm S with his timing system, and all who make the day run smoothly. Thank you, too, for that guacamole.