Holiday Lake is technically a 50k race, but since it's a Horton classic, it'll have a few extra miles added onto it (hence, the "++"). Dr. David Horton's a bit of a legacy in the ultra running world. Mike got to experience him some when he volunteered at Mountain Masochist last weekend, in Virginia. How cool. The '09 HL50 falls on Valentine's Day, so Mike's running it too (he even said he'd run with me, what a gent!). In my mind, there is no better way to spend Valentine's Day than getting beat up by a trail with lots of mud, a few F-bombs, stubbed toes, and then a shiney new finisher's award at the end. Romantic, indeed :) Hopefully there will be chocolate chip cookies at the finish line.
In other news:
Stairs are the devil incarnate. I've decided I need to incorporate more 'climbing' into my training, and what better way than with stairs (well, hills would be better, but in Chicago that's not gonna happen). My condo building has 29 floors, so I strapped on my HR monitor and Garmin so I could keep track of the ol' ticker while I climbed the stairs up and down four times (30 minutes). In order to keep my HR in the range of 60-85% of my max HR, I had to walk the majority up...I have a lot of training to do before I can run up stairs the whole time! Oy vey. I was tired after that one. I'm going to do that once per week. Hopefully that's enough :)
Sunday I decided to take my long run into the suburbs and hit a trail. I woke up at 6:30a.m. and drove out to Darien to run the Waterfall Glen trail. It's a 9.45 mile loop, but I keep going back around until it's a full 10 miles. The trail is lovely. It's crushed gravel the whole way, which is great, until it gets into your shoes and starts bouncing around in your socks. The scenary is beautiful, and on this day I only saw a few other runners. Most everyone else on the trail was biking. So, I spent the majority of the time alone, with my iPod. It was a beautiful day out, sunny in the low 60's. It's mostly shaded, but there are a couple sections that run through a wide-open prairie-like area. The leaves have all changed and a lot of the trail was covered in a layer of pine straw and fallen leaves (which lent to that awesome fall smell I love).
The trail rolls a bit in sections, but it's otherwise flat. I didn't push it all that hard, I just wanted to enjoy the run. I averaged 9:00's, finishing up in about 1h:30m. A nice little jaunt in the 'burbs. My body felt great, and I didn't have any issues with my ham's or shin's, which is great! However, I did get a couple blisters on my right foot, just above where I'm healing from a nasty blister from my 50k a couple weeks back. That's so annoying. Why am I getting these blisters all of the sudden now? So small, but so irritating.
Monday night, I finally made it back to Beer Runners (it's been a couple weeks since I've run with the group) and made a go at the 3-mile loop we usually do, rather than the five. It turned into a really fast tempo run, much faster than I normally would go, and it felt amazing. I finished up in 21 minutes...fastest 3-mile time ever by the way :) Moving at a good clip from the start, it was hard, and I did pull back a couple times, but overall I felt really good and knew that I could push it. I was out of breath when I got back to the bar! Rene and Ryan were up there with me the whole time, and then in the last three blocks they shot ahead and I was putting in everything I had already so I let them fly by. Those guys are fast! It's nice to get new members who can really push the pace though, it keeps the competitive juices flowing and gets my rear in gear.
So tonight I'm hoping to crank out six miles when I get home. It'll be dark though, which I hate doing. Or, I'll hold off and do that tomorrow night with Beer Runners...that's what I should do. I have a lot of stuff to work on tonight, so we'll see. Either way, I'll get the miles in in the next two days!
This Thursday after work I'm flying out to D.C., and from there Mike and I are road-tripping up to Slate Run, Pennsylvania to make a go at the 42-mile Black Forest Trail! Mike's goal is to finish it in 24 hours...running as much of it as possible. Hopefully I can keep up with him :) We'll have a pretty big group of other backpackers with us, so I'm sure I won't be on my own that much, if at all. I'm looking forward to it. I'll have an update on that next week, with pictures of course!