I can feel myself getting into long run shape. I remember this happening last year. It's a subtle shift that usually makes itself known during the second run of the day. I feel like I can now go out and run at any time of day, regardless of how much or how little I have already done that day, and still have a good run. My legs are on auto-pilot. No matter what I ask of them (within a certain amount of reason, of course) they will respond. Not quickly, not always strongly, but willingly. I guess that's the shift. The will to run is firmly set into the muscles of my legs.
Saturday morning Susan and I ran at Mt. Archer. This is a ten mile roller coaster road loop through a lovely, sparsely housed and wooded neighborhood. Lots of new growth forest, a couple of farms, a stream with lots of bird activity, and freaking amazing houses set far apart and usually well back from the road. Brigadoon.
It was great to run with Susan. We trained together for VT last year, and she plans to run it again this year. Neither one of us finished, though Susan got a few miles farther along than I did. She wants to get that monkey off her back and then be finished with ultras. (Or at least 100-mile ultras). She wants to concentrate on strength building and gym work. I, on the other hand, am in for the long haul. I intend to keep running ultras for as long as my body allows. I just love everything about them. The training, the people, the occasional travel, the challenge, the beauty of the courses, everything.
Sometimes I wish I lived in a more ultra-training friendly place. A place with other ultra runners and lots of mountainous trails. But I don't. And that's going to have to be okay.
Susan and I started running at 5:15 in the morning (which meant getting up at 3:45). We did one full Mt. Archer loop and one half loop, all of which took about 3 hours. We then spent an additional hour running up and down Mt. Archer itself (which is not a mountain at all, but a very steep hill). It took us about 8 minutes to walk up (repeated runs up this hill are out of the question at this stage in the game) and 2 minutes to run down. The downhill part is what I am most interested in. I need to fire those quads! Over and over.
I spent much of the rest of the day thrift shopping with the kids (it poured all day). This was a workout all by itself.
The kids and I let Brian sleep in Sunday morning until almost 8 (Happy Easter!). As soon as he got up Eddie the Coonhound and I headed out for a nice 1.5 hour trot around town. I listened to a poet/psychologist talk about our current economic crisis on the iPod. She chalks it all up to our unsustainable American culture of desire and greed. It's probably more complicated than that (just ask any economist!), but essentially I agree with her. Attainment kills desire. But it doesn't kill it all the way. Desire regrows as soon as the next desired object appears. And so it goes.
I wonder how one breaks this cycle? I wonder if it is even possible, society-wide, to break it. As with everything, start at home. Start with yourself. I just bought a new hydration pack from Zombie Runner. Do I really NEED a new hydration pack, or did I just WANT a new hydration pack. I don't know yet, because it hasn't arrived yet. Until it arrives it remains in my head the perfect ideal of a hydration pack. It will solve all my hydration needs! But that is exactly what I thought that about my last hydration pack (a waist belt that turned out to be pretty annoying -- this new one is more of a backpack). I wonder......
After a fun Easter lunch at Grandma and Grandpa's house, Brian and I did an hour run around Old Saybrook while the kids marinated in chocolate and sugar in front of the computer (those kids love going to Grandma's!). Brian and I used to run together all the time. Every day. Now it happens so rarely, it has become a treat. We talked about Zen and Catholicism and Thomas Merton and Hegel. The wind was fierce. We walked the last bit in order to have time to finish our talking. My legs felt great. All good.