It's official, week three of JJ100 training is so far my very, very favorite, and all because of one ridiculously awesome long run on Sunday.
All week, runs got a bit better each day, but I still felt a little out of whack, which was humongously annoying. I was also humongously annoyed with the blister battle my feet have decided to wage against me. WTF feet? Since when do you decide you can change your chemistry and get all 'sensitive' on me? I have training runs to do!
Friday, I only had three miles planned, but with a single glance I was convinced to run six miles with Geof instead. A nice, brisk six later, I was feeling slightly optimistic for our long run coming up on Sunday. Generally, we like to knock out the long run on Saturday so that we can sleep in on Sunday and bask in our shared victory, but we were driving out to Iowa City early Saturday morning and thus committed ourselves to zero sleeping in and a long run Sunday morning from Running Wild in Coralville, IA.
I threw both pairs of my road shoes in my bag (my should-be-retired Ghost 3s, and my new-but-ass-sucking Ghost 4s) as I was unsure which pair to run in. I only needed to get 15 miles in since I was way over my miles for the week already, but we decided jointly that 20 miles would be more fun :) Plus, we were planning to run the old 20 mile route Geof led when he worked for Running Wild back in his college days.
We woke up nice n' early Sunday morning, greeted mightily by cicadas and crickets still burning the midnight oil outside our window (P.S. I absolutely love sleeping with the windows open, a soft breeze blowing in and the sound of crickets dancing on the windowsill. A/C is for the birds ;)). Arriving at Running Wild with a couple minutes to spare before the group set off for the run, we just took our time and headed inside to meet the owner/Geof's old boss, Joe. Joe was supremely surprised to see Geof walk through the door and greeted him with a big hug. I walked around enjoying all the pictures of Geof all over the stockroom from his days there, and ogled the wall of running shoes. Nothing like the smell of running shoes early in the morning! It was fun to finally see the store, meet Joe and put visuals to all the great stories he's told from his time working there.
The group had long since left by the time we stepped outside to start the run. Fine by us. We were looking forward to the run together through town :) One last hop-skip to make sure my shoes were okay (I decided to go with my retiree Ghost 3s afterall...oldies but goodies). After a quick loop around the block, we followed the original 'south route' down Second Street, eventually hooking up with the wonderfully shaded Iowa River Corridor Trail, which follows the river through town, winds through a park, beside some aging academic buildings, past a fire station, over some railroad tracks, down a densely wooded and shady section along the river, through Napoleon Park, and out onto a rolling country road. Then, we turned around and headed back the way we came. The running store placed water coolers at a few different spots along the way, so we had plenty to drink, but thankfully the early morning weather was downright perfect in the upper 60s/low 70s, sunny and barely any humidity.
I was feeling like a million bucks. I love Iowa City. It's a place that really knows how to take care of itself. It's clean, friendly, highly academic, has a lot of history and culture, and clearly loves its runners and cyclists judging by the number of awesome paths through and around town making getting around sans vehicle very easy.
My feet held up incredibly well...not even a hot spot. Funny, 'cuz a 4 miler was hot-spotting my feet pretty well earlier in the week. My feet must be allergic to Chicago ;-)
The run honestly could not have gone any better. The time flew by and we were really enjoying ourselves. Before we knew it, we were pulling up to the store. Another one in the books. Bagels with PB, and OJ awaited us inside the store and we noshed like kings while Geof and Joe shot the breeze a little while longer.
One of my favorite parts of the run? No soreness. Not even jimmy legs (which I usually always get after long runs). Not even during the 3.5 hour drive home later that afternoon. Not even the next day, or the day after that. I couldn't even tell we ran 20 miles. About dang time my legs got used to the distance! So, I feel like I turned a little bit of a corner with this run. And that feels pretty good.
After changing into dry clothes, we treated ourselves to iced lattes and sat outside Tierra Coffee, basking in the warm, non-humid, sunlight, while visions of new running shoes danced in my head.
Week four holds one final mileage push before a step-back week in week five (woohoo!). So far, so good.