Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Run to Savor

There are some days (though nowhere near enough of them) when running seems so ridiculously easy that you wish you could bottle it. And since there are also (more than enough) days when it sucks, you really need to make hay while the sun shines.

Such was the case this weekend.

Running for me is a very mental process - if my confidence is low I struggle, and if it's high I fly. Over the summer I've struggled a little (ok, maybe a lot - haha) with focus, but I think finally having Nancy home really picked me up and triggered a mind shift.

It's training season, my next marathon is coming up and it's time to start laying down some good fast, hard runs. Let's just say I was pumped for this run.

And after struggling through the heat and humidity of a Texas summertime, we really lucked out on Saturday morning with temperatures in the 60s. Everything was set up for a great run.

So I had 16 miles on the radar. Clea and I started out really early with an Enfield loop, and I knew it was going to be a good day when we were running 8:30s at what seemed like an easy conversational pace.

We finished the loop and met up with some other friends for an 8 mile Jefferson loop. About half way up the hills of Scenic I slipped smoothly into another gear, and switched it up to 7:30 pace. I was running with Frank at this point, and I think we both dropped into the zone - it felt almost as if I wasn't even running, just watching myself glide above the ground.

Man, I've missed that feeling.

We finished out the loop (did my "fast becoming traditional" sprint on the last big hill), and were joined by even more friends for a final 4 miles along the hike and bike trail. I kept the pace in the 7s and was feeling wonderful. With less than a mile to go, Frank kicked it up and I went with him. For about the last half mile we dropped the hammer to 6:50 pace and it felt great.

I finished on top of the world, chuffed to pieces with what was probably my best run since the Little Rock marathon in March. Great weather, fast pace, good friends and flowing conversation. Can't ask for more than that.

Or can I? I drove home and pulled onto my street just as Nancy and the kids were headed over to the playground. Seems it was turning out to be my day so I hopped out of the car and joined them to make the most of a beautiful morning.

We spent a fun hour playing on the swings and kicking the soccer ball before heading over to the hospital to visit Nancy's dad (who is making excellent progress).

What a great day.

This morning we did the 7 mile Danish loop as a recovery run. We call it the Danish because it starts and finishes at a local bakery with some of the best cupcakes in Austin. But since we start so early we're usually done and gone before the bakery opens. Well this morning we decided to start late so we could go home with reward pastries.

And we deserved them. And they were great.


DavidH said...

Mark - Love it! The seemingly effortless run, what a gift.

Good luck as you start building for your next adventure.

Great to hear the positive progress of Nancy's dad.

Andy Bowen said...

It's that feeling that makes you go out there again and again.

It's been 36 hours since I was last out running. You've inspired me to go to bed early and get up at the crack of Dawn (poor girl) and belt out a 10 miler before the day really starts.

Great stuff