Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Still Running Down the Trail

Last week I got out twice at lunch and ran Lexington area trails.  First was Veteran’s Park.  I’ve mountain biked there many times, but resisted the urge to run there.  A few weeks ago I went afoot at the Life Adventure Center in Woodford County and enjoyed it at least as much as a trail runner as a mountain biker.  Veteran’s was different.  The trail is just too much of a flow trail and it doesn’t lend well to trail running.  I won’t be going back there without the bike very much.
On the other hand, I visited Raven Run later in the week and had a blast.  I ran pretty hard too.  My overall pace was 9:58/mi which is my all-time fastest trail run.  I’d not been able to crack eleven minutes previously.  Of course the secret to my success was that the first mile of the run was a wide cinder path and double track and it was all downhill for the first two miles.  Of course I had to gain back every foot of lost elevation gain and then some, but it was an easy and long downhill to a twisty and more technical singletrack climb out.  For the Red Trail segment alone I had an 11:15/mi pace.  That’s still pretty good for me considering the amount of climbing I encountered on the trail.
Raven Run is really good.  I did the four mile Red Trail (loop) and was continually surprised at how good it was.  I wasn’t going to do the short detour from the loop to the Kentucky River Overlook at the nadir of the loop, but when I got close I realized it was in my nature to go dangle over the edge.  It was worth the deviation for the incredible view of the river and the Palisades.  Then I began the long climb out.
Like I said, the trails were good and the run was enjoyable if hard on me auld bones.  It’s not uber-convenient for me to do that at lunch so I won’t be doing it very often, but from time to time I think it’ll be good if I need an inspirational boost in my running.
Monday I shot over to the Arboretum.  It’s fairly close to my office; though unfortunately not close enough that I can run from the office to the Arboretum and back in a reasonable lunch hour.  There’s also not a good direct route either.  So regrettably I drove.
I hadn’t set out to find a PR in the backwoods of the Arboretum.  I discovered—though I’m not sure why I considered otherwise—that the “trail” through the park-like facility is asphalt.  While not an unpleasant experience, it wasn’t what I expected.  So it was like running on a multi-use trail except bikes aren’t allowed. 
My intent was to run three quick laps and nab six miles of distance at lunch.  When I started running I was turning it over at a pretty fast cadence.  My first mile was not too far over an eight minute mile pace.  I ratcheted it up.  Near two miles in it looked like if I could keep my speed up I could knock out a (modern) 5k PR.  I kept my speed up.  On a couple of the gentle hills near my 2.5 mile mark I thought about giving up.  I knew even if I slowed down to a jog it would be a respectable 5k time at that point.  I pushed through.
Strava showed my 5k time to be 25:44.  My previous best might have been just shy of twenty-seven minutes.  If that’s the case I busted that time by more than a minute.  My Midsummer Night’s Run time was 27:56 and my Natural Bridge 5k time (in 2013) was 28:00.  My first of a series of three 5ks that began in 2012 was the Thoroughbred 5k and I ran in just under 30 minutes.  I had a few training runs that were better, but my best official 5k time in the past two years was the MSNR.  I beat that by more than two minutes yesterday.
I ran harder than I’m used to running.  I had to fight through the strong urge to quit pushing.  When I finally did hit 3.1 miles and slowed down my heart was going crazy inside my rib cage and I was breathing like a fat guy trying to outrun a pack of rabid dogs.  I made myself run another mile at an easy pace until I decided I needed to squeeze in some strides as well.  I’m a machine that way.
Now if I can drop thirty pounds [dodging rotten vegetables thrown from the peanut gallery]...
Speaking of driving…it’s time to get back on the bike.  I want to be a fast runner.  I’m now signed up for my first marathon (The Flying Pig).  But the bike is my inspiration, my therapy, and my sanity sometimes.  I can’t ignore it any longer.  I have to balance running and cycling with everything else.
In other trail news the four county off-road park is getting closer to becoming a reality.  I have it on good authority that all users will be included meaning there will be the possibility for a mountain bike park in my home county.  We’re talking access to hundreds of acres of fine wooded land.  The key will be getting mountain bikers to the table in the planning and decision making stages.  I’m on it!


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