Monday, June 16, 2008

A Mixed Bag

Illumination courtesy of Tuckahoe State Park and the keen eye and lens of Joel Shilliday.

Tuckahoe State Park is closed until further notice. At least that's what I think the black flies were buzzing as they circled and dive-bombed us yesterday as we cruised the seven-mile version of our loop there.

Katherine Binder, Lori Callahan, Mike Keene, and I rolled out from the Coffee East/Diving Dog parking lot at 6:30 a.m., knowing that running conditions (i.e. ticks, poison ivy, black flies, heat) might be at a low point for the year. I have to say, thanks to the black flies primarily, Sunday was as miserable as I have seen it in three-or-so years running there. Keene correctly pointed out that the flies will soon be gone, which I do recall from a late July run last year, which is slight consolation.

Having said that, it was still a blast, and a great way to start Father's Day, for me. Our Tuckahoe Sunday was the start of a taper-ish week for me, with the Team Slug 50K Fun Run coming up this Saturday, June 21. Five or six miles Tuesday and four-ish miles Thursday is the recipe for final "Slugfest" preparation.

This past week saw some solid training runs--7.25-ish miles on Monday, 13.1 miles Wednesday, for a more detailed account of that run, check the Rise Up Runners blog, and then I set out for a faster/tempo workout on Friday, where I ran a 7-mile out-and-back route in 52:29--averaging 7:30 miles for the run. Friday's tempo run felt (and was) a faster pace starting out than my normal, longer runs, and when I would start to drift into an easier pace, I would stride into it to pick it up. I had some left in the tank, but was reasonably spent at the end, after a good push up Rails to Trails on my final two miles. At one point, I felt the automatic legs--a la Landy Cook's trail horse analogy on the home stretch and had to smile.

So the next big thing for me is to try to tackle 31 miles in the summer heat on a flat 5K trail loop in Delaware. The loop provides ample opportunities to resupply, fill water bottles, grab a few more Clif Shot Blocks, and shuffle back around. Hopefully 10 laps won't make me too dizzy :) Stay tuned for how it all goes.

And on the bigger trail and ultra running scene, we are just shy of two weeks out from the granddaddy of the 100 mile trail races: the Western States 100. If you follow trail ultras, you may already realize that the field in this year's race is phenomenal. The odds makers seem to favor Wunderkid Anton Krupicka, whose footspeed and hundred mile tenacity seem unmatched at the moment. Defending champion Hal Koerner is back in the house, perennial top 10 runner Andy Jones-Wilkins, and the blazing speed of 2007 JFK winner Michael Wardian could be factors, not to mention Karl Meltzer and a number of others. Last year, I checked in periodically during the webcast/stats of the race to see what was going on.

So there's a mixed bag of recent runs, upcoming races, and a peek at one of the big national races. Anything else to add?

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