Ok, so, I gotta say, I think I rocked this past week of training. You know, when you have one of those awesome weeks where you kick and then you just keep kicking. On Tuesday, I ran my Tuesday trail 10k (running is more fun in alliterations) in a quick 44 minutes, which I know is not the fastest time ever but there was some solid elevation gain included and rocky root-strewn terrain, and city stoplights en route to the trailhead, so for a trail 10k, I felt good. But on Thursday, I skipped the minute-long walking break I usually take after mile 4, and I ran the same trail 10k, only 45 seconds faster. To round it all up, I hit a beautiful 14 miles on the trails on Saturday, during which I came up on a guy in a Marine Corps shirt and proceeded to pass him on an uphill and leave him eating my dust. Boo yeah.
It’s a pretty great feeling when you can hop on 14 miles worth of trails at a trailhead a half-mile from your downtown apartment. It’s an even better feeling to realize you’re tempted to switch to pavement halfway through because the trails are so crowded with runners and mountain-bikers – that’s the mark of a great outdoors town. And it’s probably the best feeling to run in shorts and a tank in December and finish up with a sunburn and sweaty salt dried onto your forearms. Richmond, seriously, sometimes I love you so much that it’s painful.
While I was out on Saturday, I ran by a couple groups of people from the James River Park System doing trail maintenance on the North Bank trail, and if anyone reading this works for the JRPS, or is part of the RVA mountain biking community, please know I’m incredibly grateful to you. Our trails are pretty much the reason I live in Richmond, and without the mountain bikers who carved them and the JRPS who helps maintain them, I’d probably be trudging up Monument Ave or circuiting Maymont every day.
In other news, I’ve been obsessively following obstacle course races, like the Spartan and Tough Mudder, probably because of Scott Keneally’s incisive article in the November edition of Outside Magazine outlining the beef between the respective founders of Spartan and Tough Mudder (Queens native Joe DeSena and Brit Will Dean) Word on the trail is that Will Dean ruthlessly stole the concept from a British Royal Officer who has been doing the original “Tough Guy” races since the 70’s. Rumor also has it that the rivalry between the two founders “plays out more like a scrap between frat boys than Coke versus Pepsi”, involving cryptic handwritten messages and blatant, aggressive marketing campaigns executed without shame or remorse. Whoever hasn’t checked out the article, it’s definitely worth a read.
So I spent the week following the lead-up to this weekend’s Spartan Beast, like the World Cup Championship round for the Spartan race, and watched the women in the elite heat kick some serious booty, scaling walls and hauling sand buckets and swimming and climbing and doing endless burpees. The men were commendable as well. First place female April Luu offered up a great quote from George S Patton, good to keep in mind for training: “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war”. Train often and train hard before game day, and the race will seem much easier. The thing about obstacle course racing, it can be so much more fun than just plain running. I’ll never give up on the just plain running, but I’m setting a goal right now to finish in the top 15 for my age group at a Spartan or Tough Mudder next year. We’ll see.
Lastly, I am so so close to officially committing myself to my next adventure, and I am so excited to share it here on the blog, I can’t wait already. I am just waiting on one thing and then I can blast the awesome news all over the place! I hope ya’ll are ready : )