To say running has been a struggle in the 4 weeks since Lean Horse would be an understatement. Some period of recovery is to be expected, but never after any of my 12 marathons or 2 50Ks have I experienced such an extended recovery period and such a feeling of pure fatigue and sluggishness when I ran. Frustration was starting to set in and, frankly, running just hasn't been all that much fun lately, and if it's not fun, then why do it? Fortunately, I seem to have turned the corner.
Monday - Rest. Played basketball at lunchtime.
Tuesday - 8.3 miles. One of the most miserable runs of my life, I think. I tried throwing some strides in to wake my legs up, but it just made them more tired.
Wednesday - 8.2 miles. A little better than Tuesday, but still slow.
Thursday - 5 miles. Really slow and I didn't really care. Just running because I felt like I should.
Friday - Rest. Physically, I didn't feel like I needed it, but mentally I just didn't want to face another miserable run. I did play basketball at lunchtime.
Saturday - 12 miles. Ran the Tinton trail, which starts at the base of Black Hills on the outskirts of Spearfish and goes up toward the Big Hill trailhead, over 6 miles one way. I obviously didn't go all the way to Big Hill since I turned around after 6 miles, but I was close. The net elevation gain going up is right around 1000 ft. and my total elevation gain was over 3000 ft. for the entire run thanks to some ups and downs in between. And I ran every damn step of it, no walking uphills like I had been doing during ultra training. Sure, some of the steepest, longest uphills were pretty slow, but I was still moving faster than a power hike. The thing is, it felt good, especially after I hit the top and got to run the 1000 ft. back downhill.
Sunday - 9.7 miles. Wasn't quite sure what to expect after running 12 trail miles the day before, but as soon as I started running, something just felt "right". It's a feeling I haven't had for a long time, but when I hit the first mile in 8:05 (the fastest mile I've run since Lean Horse), I knew this one was going to be different. After 4 long weeks of struggling to break 9:00 pace, my legs had finally come back. Apparently, they were lost in the Black Hills along the Tinton trail somewhere. Ended the run with a 7:54 avg. pace and most of that was effortless. Not my fastest run ever, but certainly one of the most refreshing, both mentally and physically.
Total - 43.2 miles
So, it's about damn time. I was starting to worry about my prospects at this coming Saturday's Sundance Trail 10K over in Wyoming. I ran this race last year and did it stupidly, still being relatively new to trail running. Even now, I'm far from an expert trail runner, but I at least know now that it's not wise to take off at road 10K pace on a trail and expect to maintain it. Regardless, up until this weekend I was unsure of the kind of effort I'd be able to put forth at Sundance. Now, I at least have some confidence that I can actually race this thing and vindicate my somewhat disappointing performance from last year.
Okay, now for the weekly football rant. Last week I had the perfect football weekend. I alluded to the fact that those are preciously rare and this weekend showed that. Friday night, Belle Fourche traveled all the way across the state to face the #1 team in South Dakota, West Central. The Broncs came out punching and scored on their first play from scrimmage on an 80 yard run and took a 14-3 lead into halftime. But, West Central showed why they've won 11 of the last 16 state championships and came back to win 23-14.
On Saturday afternoon, the Montana Grizzlies opened Big Sky Conference play with a home game against Portland St. (led by former NFL coach Jerry Glanville). A record crowd of 25,760 was on hand to watch the game and to watch PSU jump out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Uh-oh. But, the Griz regrouped and ended up outscoring the Vikings 49-3 the rest of the way for a 49-17 win.
Sunday is of course NFL day and I was really hoping the Seahawks could pull out a win in San Francisco to take an early lead in the NFC West. The game was close in the first half, but Matt Hasselbeck went down with a rib injury right before halftime and it was all downhill from there. Giving up TD runs of 79 and 80 yards to Frank Gore didn't help either and the Hawks went from contenders to pretenders with a 23-10 loss. At least my fantasy team squeaked out a win (thanks to Adrian Peterson and Ben Roethlisberger).
This week, Belle is on the road again at Lead-Deadwood, a game they should win easily (the 50 point mercy rule is a distinct possibility). Montana travels to Northern Arizona, which should be another Griz W. Seattle hosts Chicago. I don't know about this one. If Hasselbeck plays (which they are saying he probably will), then they have a shot at home. If not, it might be another long Sunday.