I had a really great week of running, despite battling with coughing up things that look like something from a sci-fi flick. The sun has been shining and the temps more to my liking. This week brought the first official “race” of the year – the St. Patrick’s Day 4-Miler in Binghamton. This is, hands-down, my favorite race. This may seem a little odd that an ultra runner would name a mere 4-miler as a favorite, but it is simply the best! The Triple Cities running group are a really fun bunch, the food is great (bagels, donuts, yogurt, bananas, oranges, subs, pizza . . . you name it!), and the beer is free-flowing (and not the piss-water kind of beer – this is good stuff!), and the prizes are also excellent. I have missed this race only once since it started and I have one the “Athena” division (the heavy-weight ladies) every year (although if you looked in the record books there would be one year that I was over-looked due to technical error). So I go into this event every year with the goal of winning this division. I really have no race plan, since I don’t do speed-work and it can be very difficult to tell who your rivals are (the weight minimum is 145 pounds, which can be hard to tell in runners of different heights). So my plan is to just go out and run as hard as I can and if I see someone who I think may be in my division ahead of me, I just try as hard as I can to overtake them.
This year Joe and I really out-did ourselves with our festive clothing. If there was a best-dressed division, I think we could have taken it (picture to be posted once I figure out how to do it!). We both had really great big Irish hats, which we discarded just before the start of the race and donned more “aerodynamic” berets. I had my new speedy racing shoes on and my great new green rugby knee socks. I flew through the first mile in 6:47. It is a downhill mile, so I figured it would be fast, but I was momentarily worried when I heard the time. But I was feeling good and not struggling to breathe. Mile 2 is a long upgrade, which really suits me. I feel strong going uphill and I was able to pass several people here. Going into mile 3 I saw a runner ahead of me with sort-of long hair and a bandana over the head. I contemplated the runner for what seemed like an eternity to try to decide if it was a female in my weight division. I felt like I was running at my max and really wanted to be sure before I tried to find any extra oomph and pass this runner. Finally I decided that it was a male runner ahead of me and I was safe to stay at the pace I was at. Other than mile 1 where the times were being yelled-out, I had no idea what my time was during the race and was extremely happy when I crossed the finish line in 27:45 (6:57 pace!). I walked around and waited for Joe, who I knew would be finishing soon, and then it was straight into the food and the beer! Our Ithaca-area runners really cleaned-up in the awards department and, once again, I defended my Athena title! Good for $25 and a beautiful sweatshirt. The competition was really deep this year, with at least 550 people in the race. I felt good during and after the race and very thankful that I don’t have to run that fast all of the time. It’s hard! But I do have to admit that it’s fun to run fast – on occasion.
So here is how the entire week panned-out:
Mon 3/9: 6.2 miles. 34 degrees, windy, and a light snow.
Tues 3/10: 8 miles. 29 degrees, windy, overcast. Had to re-route the run midway through because of icy terrain.
Wed 3/11: 7.5 miles. 51 degrees. Ran in shorts – finally!
Thurs 3/12: 0 miles. Rest day. 23 degrees and heavy lake-effect snow!
Fri 3/13: 6.4 miles. 25 degrees and sunny. Still a little ice on the forest roads, but the snow-cover helped the footing.
Sat 3/14: 5 miles. One mile warm-up and then 4 mile race. Forget the cool-down after the race – the food and beer go fast and if you do a cool-down, you are likely to miss the goodies!
Sun 3/15: 18.2 miles. Ran with Lorrie – sections of “Joe’s Torture Trail”. Ran in tight-shorts and found that this really helped to eliminate the chub-rub as well as support my quads and hamstrings on the hills. Drank HEED only and found that this fuelled me quite well.
TOTAL WEEKLY MILEAGE: 51.3 miles. Now it’s time to go easy for the week and preserve my energy for the HAT Run 50K on Saturday.
The big story of the week: Ireland beat Scotland in a real nail-biter in the Six Nations Rugby. Despite giving up way too many penalties early on, the Irish prevailed. My man, Ronan O’Gara, was back in fine kicking form, as he overtook the Six Nations point-scoring record previously held by rugby icon Jonny Wilkinson. Next week is the final game, Ireland vs. Wales. If (when) Ireland prevails, they will have grand-slammed the Six Nations tournament!
“Man . . . is making many far-reaching changes. This most influential half animal, half angel is rapidly multiplying and spreading, covering the seas and lakes with ships, the land with huts, hotels, cathedrals, and clustered city shops and homes, so that soon, we may have to go even farther . . . to find a good solitude.” John Muir