2015 Running Diary #5: Decisions, Decisions

Hey, it’s only been a month since my last update. Pretty prolific by my standards. That said, my running has been quite well since my last entry. I still have minor assorted things bothering me, namely my stubborn groin injury but by and large I feel pretty healthy. *Knocks on wood.* Following the D&H Half Marathon I covered in my last entry, I kept my mileage at 55 per week in preparation for the annual Paul Short Run held at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Paul Short is regarded as one of the biggest races in not only Pennsylvania, but the entire Northeast U.S. It draws talented runners from all over the country, including lightning fast D1 athletes and soon-to-be D1 runners in the high school races. With a fast, well-maintained course and a great level of professionalism, Paul Short is easily one of the premier races for any runner. The race is primarily for the collegiate and high school athletes, though the meet does also hold an open race. Admittedly, the open race mostly consists of college runners who couldn’t quite make their respective schools’ top seven. But the eighth and ninth guys on D1 squads are still very, very good runners.

Despite how nice and fast the course at Lehigh is, I’d never had the pleasure of running there. In high school, the meet was a bit too far away for us and we’d also have to miss class since it’s held on a Friday. The whole missing class thing was a problem in college as well. However, the Paul Short course is also run for other races, but fate conspired me against me there as well. We ran there my sophomore year of college, but I was hurt at the time. And then my senior year we went there again, but that was in the midst of a freak October snowstorm, so any times run that day are pretty much irrelevant, especially considering a tree branch fell from the weight of the snow, forcing officials to shorten the course.

So, long story short, I never got to run there in decent conditions. And when I did finally line up for the open race this year on October 2, conditions still weren’t that great. Barely 50 degrees, windy and a steady rain made for a rather unpleasant experience. For spectators, anyway. I actually kind of enjoyed racing in those conditions. At any rate, coming into the race, I wanted to break 30 minutes for the 8K distance but in the back of my mind I was also thinking I wanted to shoot for under 29.

The gun goes off and pretty much the entire field of runners is in front of me. I don’t panic, being so far back, since I know all too well that this race has some incredible runners and negative splits are my specialty anyway. Coming through the first mile at 5:50, I felt pretty good. Even still, I slowed down to a 5:58 on the second mile, so I got a little concerned at that point. But it always takes me a few miles to warm up so I brought the pace down to 5:49 for the third mile and I started feeling strong.

I spent most of the race passing people who went out too fast and it felt good. It had been years since I’d been in a large field of runners like this. I was four years removed from college after all. My fourth mile was 5:44 and I knew at that point I could break 29 but I’d have to hustle. The last mile goes uphill until about 4.5 miles in but then has a long downhill to recover on. I powered up the hill hard and I wanted to take it easy on the downhill to recover for the homestretch, but I banished that thought and took it hard down the hill, hoping the momentum could carry me to the finish.

I was briefly passed by another runner in the last mile but I wasn’t having any of that. I passed him back and sprinted into the finish, passing another runner or two in the process. Crossing the finish line in 28:45, I was elated. That wasn’t as fast as I used to be in college, but to even be close to that felt amazing. And I felt like I even had a little left in the tank after I finished, but then again, it’s easy to say that after the fact. At any rate, I was really happy with my time and overall the progress I’ve made in the past few months.

After Paul Short, I bumped my mileage to 60 and then last week to a random distance of 62 miles, which is admittedly less random when you consider that it’s 100 kilometers. I’m thinking I’ll peak at 65 miles for the fall season, though that largely depends on what race I decide to do next. I’m torn between the Run for the Diamonds and the Philadelphia Marathon. They’re only four days apart so doing both is out of the question. Going for a marathon might be getting a little carried away but I want to get back to that distance; it’s been a whole three years. But Run for the Diamonds is an extremely prestigious event that draws amazing runners.

So, I suppose I need to decide pretty soon. After all, what race I do will color my training for the next five weeks. And if I’m going to go for a marathon, I need to start bumping up my long run. The farthest I’ve yet gone is 15. But, as I always seem to do, I suppose I’ll just roll with things and see what happens. I’m leaning toward Diamonds for now, though. Anyway, this entry was a bit longer than I intended so I apologize for my verbosity. I hope everyone’s training is going well. Until we meet again.

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