The temps have stayed cold since Wednesday, with highs in the mid-20's, even at midday.
Yesterday, I met up with Alex Vlahos at his office in Beverly for our 5.8 mile loop on the roads through Wenham. Alex ran for me at Ipswich HS and then went to Providence and did a master's at Merrimack, where he ran one season. He's already out of my league as a professional businessman, but he still lets me run with him, which I appreciate.
It felt windier at his office than it did at my house, but the sun was out, so once we were out from under the trees it was pretty comfortable. We ran 7:45ish/mi. which is faster than the past few times we've run together. We're hoping to keep rolling together at least once a week through the winter to keep each other motivated to train. I will need to sprinkle in some racing to keep it interesting and make sure I remember how.
Today, I had in mind to do a long(er) run, and was thinking about a fourteen-mile loop that I used to run back when I used to run fourteen miles. It was cold and gray, but I dressed lighter, knowing I wanted to work the whole run. I figured 1:40 for 14 miles would be manageable and 1:38 would be 7:00/mi. and I wanted to be a bit quicker than that, but I didn't know how much. I set out feeling determined, and came through one mile in 6:31. The second mile opens with a long downhill and I cruised down, fast but relaxed for a 6:10 second mile. I felt like I was working pretty hard, but it felt good to be working hard, so I pressed on. The third and fourth miles had a couple rolling hills, they were 6:19 and 6:09.
Actually, true confession: I recently set my watch to take splits every two miles (instead of every mile), because I have to run farther to get it to beep at me. My plan is if I make it back to 50 mpw for a month, I'll move it up to 3 miles per lap. Somehow, this makes me think I'm prepping for an ultra, too.
JJ constantly loves to remind me of how long since I did the Rothlin workout, and I actually felt like during today's run I was finally reaping some of the benefits of that effort from almost three years ago. You could tell me that's physiologically impossible, but there was some mental stuff that happened to me on that 30-mile run that helped make 14 miles seem pretty short. Plus, today was a similar day weather-wise, cold and gray and calm.
Anyway, I came out on to route 1A in Ipswich at four miles and turned north, then took the first right onto Lakeman's Lane. This is one of my favorite stretches of the loop - there are never any cars, there's a couple horse farms and one good hill to power up. I split 12:16 for miles 5 and 6.
Just before Mile 7, I ran by the bottom of Sagamore (aka 'Sacrifice') Hill, a short, steep paved climb to the Native American chief Masconomet's grave. There's also some top-secret government observation station or something up there. I used to sometimes throw in a surge up the hill on my way by and then jog back down and finish the run, but today I decided that I'll do that next time. Miles 7 and 8 took 12:23. The halfway point of a run when you're working hard is always nice to get beyond. I always feel a little more secure that I'll be able to maintain pace when I've got less than 50% to go.
By mile 8 I was back out on familiar terrain on Essex Street, where I just ran with Nate and Nathan on Saturday morning. Before that, it had been a while. Miles 9 and 10 took 12:07 and I was right at the end of Miles River Road which is 4 miles back to my house. I ran up a little climb and was feeling the pace catching up with me as I neared four corners in Wenham. Courteous drivers let me cruise through onto Larch Row - another favorite stretch. Just before mile 12, I had to slow briefly for a train crossing - not nearly as bad as Reach the Beach, where I had to wait 40 seconds for a light to change - stopped my watch for five seconds, and picked back up. The two-mile split was 12:10.
Even that short pause caused me to stiffen a little, but I was so close to home I wasn't worried. I set on the fly goals of 3:10, 3:05, 3:00 and 2:55 for the last four half-miles. I think I was 3:06 for .5, and then I made the last right onto Arbor Street and headed for home. Mile was 6:00. Missed 1.5, but the mile was 5:55, and :28 for the last .08. Feeling really good about this and training in general lately. Unfortunately, races around here have just about dried up till spring, with a couple notable exceptions. I'm willing to travel for an opportunity to race, but gotta make sure it's a weekend that works for the whole clan.