Monday, February 18, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes

First, more good news. Dori was told today her bloodwork shows 100% donor DNA. Also, she feels almost back to normal after the stomach issues. Unfortunately, Kathryn doesn't. She's right in the middle of the same bout Will and Dori went through.

President's Day is a holiday for most folks, but not everyone. Today was like any other day, as I went to work in the morning and ran my "mom errands" at midday. After yesterday's semi-debacle nine-miler, I thought about getting in what we runners call a "recovery run," just to shake out the kinks from a longer run. Weird thing, though ... I felt fine last night and today, I felt incredible. Note to self ... Mexican food is good recovery food. I decided to take Mighty Pepper to Percy Warner Park for the 5.8-mile loop ... and boy am I glad I did.

From the start, Pepper wanted to sprint, so I compromised and obliged a brisk pace. The first mile at PWP (autumn photo above) is uphill, but I felt good, probably running an 8:45 pace. At mile one, Pepper and I passed a decent runner who had started about 90 seconds before us. Mile one to mile two is slightly downhill, so we picked up the pace, probably an 8:15. The runner behind us decided he was going to hang with us, so I thought cool, I've got two reasons to keep moving quickly ... a frisky dog and a dude who thinks he can keep up with us.

At mile two, our runner started dropping. I never saw him again after 2.5 miles. When I reached the base of the infamous Three Mile Hill, I looked up and thought to myself, "That looks easy today." When I reached the top, I felt like my fuel gauge was still full and I could run as if I were driving a car ... just hit the gas pedal and go. Before mile four, I realized Pepper was starting to hurt, and I was sorta dragging him along. That started costing time, probably about 30-45 seconds a mile from the 3.5-mile mark. I hoped he could last, because we were on a 50-minute pace.

I was thinking I was going to drop the hammer and run a 7:00 minute mile or better at the end, but the dog's welfare and my daughter's perception of me are more important. At mile five, Pepper hit his "puppy wall." I owed the dog a break, so we walked for a few hundred yards so he could recover. After he did, we jogged in.

Lots of positives to take away ... I now know I'm capable of sub-50-minute PWP run, an 8:37 pace or better. I also feel differently than yesterday ... that I'm close to half marathon shape. Yesterday's run was a toss-out run. Today's conditions were perfect ... 40 degrees and little humidity. Yesterday's conditions - 70 degrees and higher humidity - contributed to the difficulty of the run. 70 degrees in winter feels like 87 in summer. Finally, it's nice to have 15 miles already chalked up this week, with five days to go.

I reconnected today with my cousin, Billy, who I haven't seen in 14 years ... since Dori and I married. I've also reconnected with cousins Laura and Michael. Get this ... all of us are runners. Bill and I are half-marathoners, while Mike and Laura are studly marathoners. Dori is a 5K runner, and the kids are good cross country runners in their league. Billy and I are glad we've shunned some bad habits and vices that destroy the body. I can't imagine not being a runner.

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