Well, I don't think I did anything too stupid last weekend, or in the rest of the week since then. My body seems to have been in a bit of a funk lately. No major problems but just not feeling on top of my game. Not how I hoped to be feeling going into the busy trail racing season. I guess it all started with that stupid 10 mile road race I ran at the beginning February. Now that I look back I can see a few things I could have done differently which would have allowed me to avoid some of that unpleasant funk. Starting with not doing that road race, particularly in those shoes.
I remember feeling pretty bad after the 10 miler, like way worse than I should have felt for just 10 miles. I assumed it was just down to the hard surface. Then last Thusday I did two laps of Back Cove and felt pretty bad afterwards with totally messed up quads. The next morning I was walking down stairs like a 90 year old and sitting on the toilet was no easy task. It turns out that this was the first time since the 10 miler that I ran on those fast looking shoes. I had been dealing with some various tighnesses throughout my legs during the past few weeks but there's no way that 7.4 miles at a 7:31 pace should hurt this bad.
I have decided not to run in those shoes again. I don't really get it, I do most of my running, and all my long runs in Inov-8's which are low profile, leightweight, minimal cushion, so why should I have so much trouble with a road shoe that has a similar build when I'm not actually running on a road? The Back Cove is a funny surface, it's harder than most trails but it's definitely softer than a paved road.
Following that screw-up of a run I decided that I really need to be smart, take it easy and make sure I'm feeling good going into the Merrimack River Trail Race this weekend. This race has the potential to set me up for a good summer of racing, or totally mess me up for a painful summer of runnng.
Here's a summary of how that taking it easy thing played out:
Friday: hobbling around with a puzzled/pained look on my face
Saturday: Pineland, 8 miles at a very slow pace, not sure how slow but it felt good. Quads were still sore but the run felt like it was loosening things up. Inov-8 Roclite 295 with screws, still icy enough to need them.
Sunday: Portland, 11.25 miles at a little slower than an 8 minute pace. Mostly paved roads, some dirt path. Pace felt easy, some minor lingering tightness. Brooks Cascadia 3, nice and cushy feeling on the road.
Monday: Rest day, feeling good.
Tuesday: Ran from work and met Chuck, Jeff and Jim for laps of Back Cove. Pace seemed a bit quick to be considered taking it easy. No Garmin but Chuck reported a few miles in the the 7:40 range which seems about right for all 8 miles that I did. Brooks Cascadia 3.
Wednesday: Ran from work for just one lap of back Cove. Felt strange to only run for half an hour. Everything felt good. 3.8 miles at a 7:45 pace. Brooks Cascadia 3.
Thursday: Same as the day before but 1 minute faster, and everything felt even better.
So I'm very pleased with the way things have gone this week. I was surprised that what felt like an easy pace actually turned out to be fairly quick. I'm used to long slow runs on gnarly surfaces so anything under 8 minute miles seems quick to me. I feel like I should be able to run hard at the race this weekend and not have to worry about setting myself back.
I'm not really sure what to expect for a time at this race. I ran it two years ago in 1:16:32 finishing in 39th place out of 231 finishers. The course was pretty dry that day if I remember correctly, but it looks like things will be different this year:
Of course I would like to beat my previous time, and I think I'm in good enough shape to do that, but the trail conditions will be the determining factor. Given this forecast my shoe of choice will be the Mudroc 280. I've had good luck with the 290's on muddy trails in the past, pretty much the same shoe, and in 2006 4 of the top five finishers were wearing the 280's so I know that they certainly work for some people on this course. I'm sure there's more to it than the shoes though.