New Haven, 2008

Monday was Labor Day, so I found myself back down in New Haven for the national 20k championships and in the company of the lovely and talented Jon and the witty and interesting Dianna. As usual, the weather was on the hot side of perfect.

Missy and the boys headed down with me this year, and I think they had a good time. New Haven’s got a great setup on the green, and the kids loved running through the bouncy things.

The race started out exceptionally well – legs were good, and I was just over 50 minutes at the 10k (You can check out the results). I’d felt kind of bad – about mile 1, I ran off from Jon and Dianna, feeling good, good, good. Even down the first long, sun-baked, windless stretch, I felt GREAT.

Then, about mile 5, there started being a bunch of hotspots on my feet. I thought that it might just be cause it was, you know, HOT. ‘Cept that was obviously wrong. In hindsight, I should have stopped to re-tie my shoes. ‘Cept I didn’t.

Sometime around mile 7, the pain finally got to me, so I went ahead and pulled the heck out of my laces, and started limping. No way was I going to DNF this year. Dianna must have passed me about then – man, did she have a good race even though she said she was going to take it easy.

Just after mile 8, I saw Jon pass me thanks to the absolutely stellar hat he was wearing. We ran for a while, then I had to walk for a bit and Jon headed on down the course in his own effortless way. I continued to trudge, completely and totally resenting both the uphill in the park, and the downhill back to town.

And the f’n bagpipers were there again just before mile 11. If there’s one thing that just makes the short hairs on my neck stand up and my stomach churn, it’s bagpipe music – sounds like some sadistic evildoer sodomizing a sheep while strangling it at the same time. Which, come to think of it, is probably how they started.

I made it through to the end. I’d walk for about a quarter mile through each water stop, and run easy for the next three quarters. It really, really, really sucked, but I made it. Not a terrible race – finished at about 1:53. So, it wasn’t my slowest finish, but it wasn’t my best, either. (I’m pretty psyched, though, as I’d thought I was even faster in 2005).

We hung around for a while after the race. I was slow, so the beer line was painfully long. The ice cream line was pretty short, so I went through that twice.

The rest of this week’s been great. I started night class at the War College – man, I dig me some Sun Tzu.

Taking it easy on the last half of the race seems to have worked out pretty well – speedwork on Wednesday rocked. Honest to gosh, it just felt great to run.

Today was another day on the bike. Ever since seeing Rudi in DC a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been back in love with riding. Last week rocked – I actually broke a spoke during a bit of out-of-the-saddle time, which was the first time I’d had to replace a piece of gear due to use-induced failure instead of wrecking it while trying to do routine maintenance on the bike.

Last Saturday was a great ride. The highlight was coming over the hill just past Dean’s Mill School. They had one of those radar displays, and it read 18 MPH as soon as I saw it at the top of the hill, and I managed to roll it up to 25 before I passed it. Caught my breath for the next three miles…

Tomorrow’s an easy run, and then somewhere between 7 and 14 on Saturday, depending on how I feel. I’m trying to really treasure these runs, as Missy’s sidelined with ITB troubles, so I can see how precious good legs are.