…and then, some days, it just feels good to run.

Yeah… OK.  So tonight I am going to the lake to swim but this morning it was all about running…

Slightly cool (48 degrees) and dry, no wind, and about 70 running buddies.  Perfect…  We were running a route that had a 5, 5.6 and 6.6 mile option and I decided to just see how I felt and decide after the first mile or so.

The run leaders always to out at a pace that allows everyone to warm up together, then scoot to the side of the trail and let the horses fly by.  However it seemed that the pack leaders were in no mood to move over this morning and were running at about an 8:30 pace(ish).  There was a time not too long ago where this would have been way too fast for me to warm up, but I guess I’m getting in a bit better shape because this seemed a bit slow for me today.

The other effect this has on our group runs is it tends to bunch us up and this morning the “bunch” was huge.  This was full on pack running in the dark.  You really had to check around you before you made a move and there was lots of elbow rubbing.  Great training for group road races but not the best for the mostly solo running you do in triathlons.

After about 2 miles the pack spread out (thanks to a road crossing) on the trail enough that you could move around a bit and so I began to stretch my legs.  Since it took that long to warm up, I had already passed the short run turn and was rapidly coming up on the middle run turn.  Even though I don’t really need it I decided to go the long distance because I was feeling surprisingly good…!!  I was also running with people that are usually much faster than me and I wanted to live the dream as long as I could…!  …heh.

The route comes out of the mostly flat trail and then goes up a minor hill, down a BIG hill, and then back up the other side of it.  It’s flat after that for a mile or so and then finishes on another BIG downhill.

I found myself settling in about half way down the first big hill behind two guys that must have been taking it easy on a taper for an upcoming marathon because they are usually WAY faster than me.  But I was happy to not be running completely alone and they were still running slightly faster than I usually do so I decided to try to hang with them UP the big hill on the course.  As they chatted along up the hill, I wheezed behind them but made it to the top at about the same distance behind them as I started.  They gradually increased the speed on the flat at the top and so did I.  I got within talking distance for about 20 yards (not that I could talk at that point…) and then they accelerated away down the last big hill and finished about 15 seconds ahead of me.

I have no illusions of being able to run with them in three weeks after they have recovered from their marathon this weekend, but it was fun while it lasted.  I ended up with a 7:39 average pace for 6.6mi and if you take out the warm up mile it was right at 7:30.  Pretty good result considering I really didn’t even want to run the whole distance when I started!  I think the best part of this run was going up the big hill.  I really didn’t feel like I lost anything and managed to maintain my pace all the way up.  I did kind of crap out right at the end, but not too bad, considering I was working a little harder than usual.  I would really love to be able to run 3 X 7:30 or better at Nationals.  That would be a good result for me.

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