After my PR run on Tuesday, I spent Wednesday and Thursday relaxing on the tricky terrain of Big River. It's nice running there, I don't actually know the mileage, I never run the same trails twice, and therefore, I'm not competing with myself for time. Wednesday, I took it easy and stopped frequently for water breaks. My body was really tired and I wanted to be smart, and in turn, enjoy myself. I felt like I was going to figure out how to complete the loop on trails that I meant to take. Nope. I definitely did some zigzagging that could have been avoided. On Thursday, I returned, determined to straighten this all out. My body was feeling fresher, and I ran faster than usual. I reached the confusing part, and headed left, confident in my choice. I ended up on a wide old dirt road. I was positive this was going to do it. Then, I felt like I was running for too long, and I wasn't seeing any familiar landmarks. It felt like I was circling Carr Pond again. Suddenly, I knew where I was. I had almost run around the entire pond and was no where near my car! I stuck to the single track trail that I knew would get me back and ran faster than ever. It was fun, and felt a little out of control on the downhill sections. There is a large hill to climb to reach the parking lot, and I tried to hit it as hard as I could. Right at the end, I kicked a rock, and fell fast and hard. I was fine, except for scrapes and dirt. I was impressed with the impact - I guess I was running fast.
On Friday, I dreamed up a speed workout I could do on the nearby Quonset Bike Path. It has distance markers every half mile. I thought it would be fun to try running a 4xhalf mile with half mile jogs in between. My first "speed" half mile clocked in at 3:01. I didn't know how to judge it. The next one was 2:54 and felt a little easier. The third was 2:51 and again seemed pretty smooth. I was ready to push the final one. About halfway through my chest ached and I just felt sort of horrible, I slowed it down and was expecting a slow time. I was surprised to see another 2:54. I guess I was going a little too hard at first. Overall, I was happy with this experiment, and plan to repeat it regularly.
Sunday, I got to run with my brother Greg, who was in town, and had run a good 5K the day before (Gaspee 5K in Warwick). This was his long run day, so he ran a few miles with his dog before meeting me at my house. We decided to run about 12 miles - take the trails to the Vin Gormley Trail (8 mile loop) and then return on the trails back to my house. It was fun running with my brother and catching up, while we attacked the challenging terrain. With two inches of rain overnight, the trails were wet and muddy. We looked pretty disgusting by the time it was over. At about the seven mile mark, I started to go harder. It felt good and I wanted to maintain a good pace and see what the 8 mile loop time was. We finished the loop on the hardest hill and I checked the time - 62:30. I was a little surprised, but Greg told me that I didn't need to race every time I ran and the humidity slows you down. We jogged the last almost 2 miles back. A great way to finish up a great week!