I love the trails in fall!
My summer/fall running has been so different this year compared to last. This time last year I was focused – obsessed? – with training for my first marathon. Everything was about the marathon; what I ate, my distance, my pace, my rest days. It was exciting, terrifying, difficult, exhilarating and exhausting. In all, it was quite an experience.
But when it comes down to it, I like this fall better. I have gone completely in the opposite direction. I have not followed a training program since last spring. I just run. I do a lot of slow runs and a lot of short runs. I found myself getting a little bored with long runs, so I just didn’t do them unless I felt like them. I haven’t done any speed work, and my hill work has just depended on what path I choose to follow. I have spent more time on trails. Grant it they are trails that true trail runners would laugh at, but they are different from the sidewalks and roads I am used to. For variety I have thrown in orienteering and swimming. I am not particularly good at either of them but they both put a smile on my face. I have run with friends and I have run with people who have become friends through my 5k running clinic. I have started running with a friend and colleague as she starts to build herself up to her first half marathon next year. I have reconnected with a former colleague through running and we meet for casual runs on trails.
Despite all of this running relaxation, I had my best half marathon and 10k times this summer. In my last 10k race I had my fastest 5k. Admittedly I am running a bit slower now, but not as much as I would have thought. Probably the main thing I am aware of is that I feel the longer or faster runs more now than I did a few months ago. Let’s just say I am a little stiffer after my runs these days. I’m o.k with that though, largely because I am having fun. I am just not feeling as competitive as I did last year. I do want to feel competitive again, just not right now.
Friday, after a few days of running with new(ish) runners, I did manage to get back out for a long run and found myself enjoying it despite the distance. It was a relaxed, slow paced 18 km with a mixture of trails and roads and a couple of hills thrown in. I was slow but steady and had enough energy to pick up the pace for the last three km. It was a nice way to end the week.
Today I participated in my second orienteering event. Actually, it became my third try as well since after completing the novice course (which I completely screwed up a few times) I decided to try the intermediate course as well. Because you know, if you have a tough time on a beginner’s course, you might as well try something harder, right? I made more mistakes than I can count, but with my compass and map I was able to find all of my controls and make it back to the finish line in a reasonable time of 1:18. I of course was nowhere near as fast as the boys. I like the advice someone gave me before the intermediate course. She suggested I just take it easy since I knew the kids would beat me anyway – so true! I did my best to run when I could but there were lots of stops to try to figure out just where I was, and there was some bushwhacking in attempts to take short cuts, most of which probably did not actually save any time. It is kind of funny to finish an event and find my pace showing a number that would normally make me want to cry.
Next up, the Fall Colours Half Marathon next Sunday. I’m thinking it might not be pretty (there is a lot of hill work on that course), but hopefully it will be fun.