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Not So Fast

The primary goal for the race last week was to see if I could do it without aggravating my achilles tendons. As it turns out, I had to wait several days before I knew that answer – they felt lousy on Monday and Tuesday, to the point where I modified my normal running schedule to give them another day off. The whole thing was a big bizarre to me because…I ran so slow. So, 5 K, 3.1 miles, or about 40 seconds longer than 3 miles at 6:00 pace. I ran 19:01 for fourth and my tendons felt awful afterwards. Meanwhile, my fastest 3 miles on the treadmill was 17:40 and my tendons feel fine after that – this confused me. 19:00 was my absolute outside number on the slow end. I thought I would run at least 30 seconds faster. But more importantly, I had every reason to believe that that if I did run that kind of time, my tendons would be no worse for the wear. This was a bit discouraging.

I did have a feeling I haven’t had for a long while. It was a few moments before the race; I was walking to join the other runners at the line for the start. A flashback to 10 or 12 or 15 or 18 years ago…

I had picked out the top 5 or 8 runners during the warm up. Runners know their own, and even after 10 years of not competing, I knew who the decent ones were by eye. I had no idea of names or times, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can see the ones who are there for some reason other than to see if they can survive the distance. I knew that none of them were extremely fast (though it turns out that the eventual winner is national caliber in his age group, at 50 year old). I walked toward the line and felt a sort of wistful sadness. I felt the beginnings of a feeling I would also get in small races like these – the feeling that it didn’t matter what the other runners thought about how the race was going to go. The feeling that I was going to go out, do what I wanted, and, in so doing, grind them to dust.

Since I’ve been a more normal person, I’ve learned that when most people go to run a road race, they are not actually doing it to race. Most aren’t even racing against a clock or against themselves, let alone racing against the other runners. Most are going to participate, to be a part of communal exertion for a cause, to encourage friends, to be social while being fit and healthy. If I think about it, it is a noble pursuit. I am an elitist to even consider this a lesser form of existing; if I received a participation medal rather than one that I earned, I would throw it out. This is not what normal people do.

But as I walked toward the line, I felt what I used to feel. My purpose was to cover the distance faster than anyone else. My purpose was to control some aspect of my life, to validate my hours and hours of training, to prove myself in some way, to earn my own approval. I rarely did, incidentally. I was reading through some old race descriptions – I document all of these. It spoke of showing up at a smallish race like this one in Mt Airy back in 2006. There, I flagged another runner in my general category. Normally, you run 400-800 meters in a 100-200 person race, and the pretenders fade away, leaving you to battle your own demons by yourself. This was the week before the last time I ran Damien’s Run. I was in peak form, immediately before my fall, and this other runner was a few ticks above the normal chaff, though a tick or two below me (I’d later learn that his half marathon PR was faster than mine, which wasn’t surprising – I was lousy beyond 10 miles). Anyway, I went out in 4:58 for the first mile, the other guy went with me. The other guy commented that he thought the pace was a bit quick – speaking in a race is a classic tell of weakness. I commented in my description that I disagreed, and proceeded to run the 2nd mile in 5:02, breaking him before struggling home myself.

That is what I wanted to do last week, but alas, I knew full well that was no where near that. I had no delusions. Instead, I went out with the top group, assessed who was who, passed the guys I should have passed, got in line, and ran by myself in 4th for the last two miles. I didn’t give much ground to the people in front, but didn’t gain either.

Anyway, my achilles feels OK now. My next training segment goes until our vacation mid-July. It will nominally consist of:
Saturday alternating between long-ish run (up to 10 miles), 5-ish mile tempo run on weekends when my wife works and I have less time, and track interval workouts before the rest of my family wakes up
Sunday 6-7 easy miles
Tuesday 4 hard-ish miles on the treadmill, until it’s under 24:00, then re-evaluate
Thursday 3-4 easy miles (when possible)

This would peak me at 25 mpw with some intensity. I’ll try to find a low key race in early August (not too many that time of year), then re-evaluate, possibly converting the easy Thursday evening run into a longer Thursday lunch run (as I lose daylight), boosting the other runs in intensity, and getting more serious about the exercise bike in the evenings. It would be nice to show up at a race like the one last week, assess the field, smirk inside, and win. That remains unlikely. But it would be nice.

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Once More into the Breech

Eleven years ago, I ran a 5K called Damien’s Run. Let me back up a bit. For the entire first hald of 2006, my running career was teetering on a razor’s edge, held hostage by my slowly declining achilles tendons. I was receiving regular massage and stim, I was doing tons of auxiliary treatment, and this was keeping them just barely serviceable. I was running 80-90 mile weeks nonetheless. A month before Damien’s Run, I ran one of the best races of my life – 52:45 for 10 miles in Broad Street Run. A month or so before that I ran 15:23 in Shamrock in Baltimore. I was likely in near to the best shape of my post-collegiate period.

But four days before the race in question, I was running an easy-ish 12 miles after work with a running buddy of mine and I badly sprained my ankle on a tree root. I know the spot to this day. It was nearly 5 miles from the parking lot when this happened. I managed to hobble back, but I knew it was bad. I had already spent $30 on a pre-registration for the race. And one of my principle rivals, Carlos, was going to be running it. Never learning the lessons of sunk costs, I took off a day or two and ran the race anyway. I never could establish a good rhythm, finishing 6th in 16:01. The winner was way out of my league, 14:30 something – I should have run around 15:40. It was some podunk 5K, like all the races I ran on my minor league circuit. It wasn’t worth it.

That ankle sprain destabilized the entire joint. My achilles went from whimpering to screaming. I took time off, then tried to ratchet back up the miles in preparation for my seeded entry into the Chicago Marathon that fall, even getting to 90+ mile weeks a few times by mid summer. Then one day tried to run at marathon pace around a dirt track on the Eastern Shore…and could not. It felt like my foot was going to rip off my calf. While I did have a meaningful two or three months of high level racing in the spring of 2007, Damien’s Run was the beginning of the end of my running career.

After that, I went from boot to self-injected acupuncture to boot to shockwave therapy back to boot to debridement to boot to sort of moving on with my life by around 2009. In the spring of 2010 I stumbled upon decent shape (we’ll call it 17:00 5K shape), but never raced; the tendons flared back up and I shut it down for weeks. In the fall of 2012 I was able to run consistently for a couple of months and actually raced – a 4 mile in 23:20, not so bad. But then things tightened back up, and I had a kid a few months later.

I am now in the best shape that I’ve been in since summer/fall 2012. It is only because of consistency, I’ve been running regularly since the fall. After all these months, my mileage remains at around 15 miles per week on 3 runs a week. Nothing. But my body is accepting it greedily. My pace is steadily improving. I feel faster than I have in a while. Some days, I actually feel fast…I have decided to run a race so that I can put a line in the sand for the future…just in case. I looked at the calendar, and low and behold, there’s Damien’s Run, now held in my favorite place in Maryland (Patapsco State Park) and at a time when my girls will be up and ready to watch it. I decided to give it a shot. It happens next Sunday.

And so, a couple of weeks ago I transitioned from running haphazardly to training. I am still doing 15 mpw; I don’t want to risk it just yet. I have, for months now, been running faster on a treadmill at the YMCA every Tuesday night; low impact stuff. I cranked the pace down further, most recently running 3 miles in 17:40. But the treadmill isn’t real running (no wind resistance for one), so last weekend, I went to the track. It was a horror. I did 2×3200 with full (8 minute) recovery. Both splits were slower than 12:00, I’m embarrassed to even say them. To put it in perspective, I came through 20 miles of my first marathon faster than 6:00 pace. That Broad Street Run was 5:16 pace for 10 miles in a row. Not being able to run 2 miles in 12:00 was very humbling.

This weekend was a little better – 3×1600 all around 5:42 though still with 6:00 rest (aka, full recovery). Not as bad. But the times aren’t that important now. More important is re-acclimating my psyche to an intentional subjection to pain. Not having enough air in my lungs. Various places in my body going number. The voices in my head telling me to stop, telling me it’s not worth it, telling me I’m weak, telling me there is no point, telling me I’ll put forth all this effort and nonetheless look like a fool. Well, fine, I am weak. But I’m still finishing the intervals. These voices were there in every race I’ve ever run; hell, they’re there whenever I do something hard. I never listen to them. I needed those workouts not because they would improve my fitness substantially in three weeks, but because I could not expect to tolerate that pain in the race if I had zero exposure to it in five years, 10 if you’re talking about the real stuff. The whole trick to being a runner is convincing your body to hurt worse than it wants to for longer than it can. That’s what all that training is for.

The course is generally flat. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I am trying to decide if I should wear racing flats or stay with more supportive shoes (the achilles heel remains my Achilles heel after all). Either way, I will get a bump of adrenaline during the race. Something old, some old magic, will awaken. Though the race itself is greatly diminished in the last few years (the winners barely crack 17:00 these days), I nonetheless have no chance of winning. I do not expect a miracle. I don’t expect to not sniff 5:20 pace for 10 years, only to magically be able to string together 3 of them in a row to come away with the win. It’s not going to happen. But I’ll probably run around 18:30 give or take. 17:45 is probably the absolute fastest. 19:00 is the absolute slowest.

These days, I come home from a run and my two year old gets all perky and asks, “Good run, Daddy?” They may never know me as I really am, having amputated all four of my existential limbs from my body – Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, and Road Racing – long before they were born. And they may never see me powerfully striding away from all opponents, dominating the hobby joggers and elderly while out-dueling the handful of semi-pros for a victory in any sort of real race. My tendons may fall apart again in a week. But please God, just one race for old time’s sake. I just need to make it until the 4th – my 36th birthday by the way.

(And, if that works, I’ll add another few miles on Thursdays, start alternating Saturday between an interval workout and a long run, and then target an early August race, 30-60 seconds faster than this time. But it never works. But it might. Then there’s another day, 30 mpw, and a crack at something respectable in October. Then train through the winter and see what happens in Shamrock in March. You know, I’m only a few years away from being in the Masters division. Yes, I always chain together this many low probably events into completely unrealistic scenarios.)

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On Your Left

I spent the summer of 2001 in Pittsburgh working doing an undergraduate research project. Most days, I ran in Schenley Park; both close to the Towers of Ignorance and a pretty great place for running. I had a ~10.5 mile loop out the park and into Squirrel Hill that I did most days. One day, another runner darted out 50 yards in front of me from another trail. Having patrolled those woods for a few weeks already, I considered it my duty to follow this runner and eventually crush his will. But he was fast. Faster than me. After fruitlessly chasing him at 5:45 pace for 3 miles, as he slowly pulled away from me, he turned and I continued my loop, relieved that my pursuit was over.

Why this story? I have never been passed on a run and that was the closest I had come. Several years ago, I took a swag – I think I’ve run between 22,000 and 25,000 miles since I was in 7th grade. While fast by most standards, I was sub-elite when compared to national elite runners. But 12 years ago, if you drew a 30 mile circle centered on Baltimore, you’d probably grab 2.5 million people, only maybe 5 of which could beat me. The chances of one of them running the same route as me at the same time was next to nil. I knew that every time I stepped on the road or track or trail that I was the fastest person. I knew when I walked in a room, I was the fastest person in the room. Whatever else was going on in my life, I always had that to fall back on, and, as a matter of principle, I wasn’t interested in letting anyone take my scalp, even on an easy run through the woods.

Now, I’ve probably only run 500-1000 miles in the last 9 ish years since my Achilles finally went south. I run between 3-6 miles a week these days. I’m out of shape and slow. But when I was 15 seconds into my run today, legs creaking from disuse, and someone passed me, I knew had a streak to maintain. He was pretty decent – a halting stride but defined legs and runner approved clothing. He was a runner, and comfortable on the trails. Another tidbit though – I was superlative in the woods. My bulky, short legs may not have been ideal for a tempo run on a flat road, but they were perfect for grinding through the woods. The trail from Landing to the waterfall in Patapsco is not very hilly, but it is quite technical. I decided that in these conditions, even if the guy that passed me could put two minutes on old man me in a 5K, I could still give it a go. So, I gave him 40 meters so that he wouldn’t hear me, then latched on to see what was what. Eventually, he did hear me, eventually, I started closing, eventually I decided, yes, today was not the day that someone was going to break my streak. And then he stopped, right in the middle of the trail. And I passed him. And then a minute later, I started hearing footfalls behind me. I had turned the right past the waterfall by then, entering an even more technical and hillier section of the park. I started pressing the hills where I could induce more pain on him, started hearing the footfalls fade until a turn off when he took a hard left for the road. I decided that he was either annoyed that I was following him, or that he was doing some kind of weird fartlek run, or who knows, maybe he was just a Sunday jogger too. Regardless, this unofficial victory over a stranger was satisfying.

All of this took roughly 11 minutes. By 12 minutes, the adrenaline had worn off. A metallic burn filled my throat. My legs got heavy. I started seeing a halo in my eyes. The bounding skip up the hills from 2 minutes earlier became a slogging plod as my body ceased to respond to even modest demands. In my mind, I maintain a truism, a mantra…that there is old magic in my legs. That if I need to run a 60 second quarter or if I need to grind out a couple of fast miles on the trails, muscle memory will take over, 4 mile weeks be damned. But whereas I might have chased an elite runner for 3 miles as a rising junior in college, I have very limited supply of this residual potency left. Enough to wear down some shlub who was probably 7 miles into an easy day and not interested in ruining his upcoming speed workout on some Sunday jogger, but not enough to actually walk the walk in any real capacity. But by then I was in a more remote part of the woods, occasionally passing 50 year olds on nature walks, with no more sub-elites in sight. I trudged back to my car – a mere 27:00 and surely less than 4 miles – after I had started, red faced with lungs burning. Maybe back in the day I’d have to run 9 miles at 6:00 pace to feel like that. Now, 12 minutes at probably 6:30 pace followed by a 7:30 pace death march for another 2 miles was sufficient. But I still felt the same burn, the same flush, the same ache…and man, do I miss it.

I’m actually not sure where my non-surgically repaired Achilles will crap out these days, because my home life precludes me from running enough to stress it. It holds together pretty well at 3-6 miles a week. A couple years ago – when Abby was a baby, two months of 30 miles a week jacked it up for a few months. But before it could, I was able to patrol the woods at a decent pace, like the old days. I hope to patrol once again. One of these days, some youngster is going to pass me, and my old magic will run out. But not today.

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No Shirt and Gloves

When I used to run constantly, I had my clothing program down to a science. It was based almost entirely on the temperature at the start of the run, which I found to be the most important factor, over precip, humidity, etc. I’d be no shirt down to 62-63 degrees. Short sleeves and gloves below 57-58. Long sleeve below 49-50. Something under my shorts starting at 37-38. Pants/tights around 22-23. But while temperature drove the decisions, the other factors did play a role. I was constantly in search of a very specific scenario…the rarely encountered no shirt and gloves day.

And I think I just ran in it tonight.

The no shirt and gloves day would occur in that narrow window between gloves and no shirt, say 59-60 degrees. It has to be very humid, so humid that your body retains heat due to having problems effectively sweating. But cold enough that my hands, poor circulation and all, got raw. Typically, you’d want the run to be at moderate intensity to generate more heat. Tonight was 59 degrees, calm, humid, just barely starting to drizzle. As for intensity, everything’s a harder effort to me since my resting heart rate is like 15 beats per minute higher than it was 10 years ago. This might have been my chance. But alas, I’m not the runner I used to be. Back in the day, I’d run through Centennial Park without a shirt on a double after work when it was 63 degrees and windy. People would be wearing fall jackets and hoodies. Kids would yell at me. Parents would be confused or disgusted. I didn’t care. When you’re fast, none of that noise matters. I did exactly what served me most optimally and could care less what they thought.

These days are different. I am not in nearly the physical shape I was 10 years ago. I’m pale white (these boundary cases often happened in the fall when I was tanned from hundreds of summer miles), simultaneously less skinny but also less muscular. More importantly, I’m trudging along at 7:30 pace rather than clipping through at 6:20 pace. These days, even in the heat of summer I feel like a creepy hobby jogger when I slog through the neighborhood in my doughy old age.

I have a vague recollection of encountering these conditions several years before, toward the end of my vain efforts to prolong my running career. I’m pretty sure I pulled the trigger on it, coming home red chested, but with a well wiped nose. I’m not sure though. I do know that there was one year where I was able to run without a shirt (at lunch, from work no less – it’s hard to imagine running around the work parking lots without a shirt now…geez) for 12 straight months. It was a Tiger Slam situation – not in the same calendar year, but Feb to Jan or something. I was very proud of it at the time.

Runners are typically nudists, as are backpackers, so I pretty much have it covered from both sides. Anyway, I’ll let you know if I ever find myself in this situation again and take the plunge.

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Ghosts

In soft regions are born soft men.

-Herodotus

Stephen ran a workout on Goshen’s track today. It’s 47 degrees, spitting drizzle and with a 20 mph headwind that follows you around the track, like running through 8 inches of water. It’s a feeling I know well.

In NY in the spring, if the wind isn’t in your face, it’s not because there’s no wind. Just turn left, and it’ll slap you, affronting any forward motion, insulted by your efforts to oppose it. I was jogging around in lane 4, hobbled by 25,000 miles worth of tendon degradation. It was many years ago now, 19 perhaps, when I first started running track workouts on Goshen’s track. 4×800. 5×800. 2:47. 2:44. 2:41. It was 7th grade and I was running 800 meter repeats on muggy spring evenings, the sun setting, twilight closing in, but my running life just then dawning. I’ve always loved track workouts. I can attack anything 3 minutes at a time.

Stephen’s workout today was fairly easy – nothing I couldn’t have done in my sophomore through senior years in college, even with the headwind. 5×400 in 65 with a minute and a half recovery. A split 1000 – 500, 300, 200 with 60 seconds rest between. He handled it gracefully and on perfect pace. It was a tune up, but Goshen’s track never lets you off the hook. The wind is somehow captured by the trees and hills, as it swirls in your face on the homestretch and both curves, then dies when it’s at your back.

In 8th grade, it was the 800 meter record I was after – owned by Brett Walker, 2:13. I came up a half a second short, blaming the smoke in my eyes from the starter’s pistol. In 9th grade, an epic dual with Manuel Thomas from Washingtonville. 4:39 was it? I was hobbled then by a hamstring problem – the beginning of 9 months worth of hamstring problems that left me waking in cold sweats as a dreamed of clawing my way around the track, digging my hands into the rubber trying to gallop, dragging my leg behind. Never fast enough, never fast enough, never fast enough. I still have the dream at least once a year, clawing, clawing, losing, failing.

Today I jogged in lane 4, with the clouds swirling, the leaves flailing, confused by the 47 degree highs during late May. But New York is not a place where you take your nice days for granted. The leaves said to themselves, “next Tuesday then, spring comes next Tuesday, for good this time”, only to see temperatures dip back into the 40s again – “fine, surely by mid-June, surely.”

In 10th grade, in the middle of track season, a warm day in late April, Coach Conklin tells us we’re doing 200s, at race pace. A reasonable idea. “Which race?” we ask – because this is an important piece of information. “The 200, of course!” he answers to our amusement. That’s not really how it’s supposed to work. But Brett Walker and I were very competitive, and you could never count out JB in a speed workout, and the St’s weren’t about to be exposed as slow distance runners. I remember Jeff Smith bringing it that day too. We hammered the first two in 25point. Walker, always one to fling his feet at your shins with his back-kick, clipped my hand with his foot on the second one, nearly falling. He was out of whack for two weeks. We slogged through the last 3 200s, out legs burning. 26, 27, 27 – in tatters. We can barely do the warm down and the whole team is in the tank for a week. This is why you don’t run 200s at 200 race pace.

Steve rams a 500 in 71 down the wind’s throat, coming through the 400 in a perfectly smooth 57. I pick up the pace in lane 4, giving him something to run at, in theory, but in practice just annoying him and fulfilling a never-dying urge to run fast despite screaming tendons.

In 11th grade, Cornwall comes for a dual meet in April. Kory Klowe and I lock horns in an 800 – I eek past for the win in 1:58.2, my fastest time of the season. I beat everyone that first time, but Klowe later gets into my head and takes the state meet spot come June. My house floods. I sit on the tires at the elementary school in the pouring rain and weep having lost my chance my house no place to hide from my failure. But after the 800 on that day with Cornwall, there was a 4×400. I was the anchor. I am one of the only people who negative splits 400s. I always approached it the same; I learned from my father in 7th grade. 100 as fast as you can. Ease into a fast rhythm for the next 100-150. Then pour everything you have into the finish. It’s Klowe again on the anchor. Arthur Ahr, a long-time Goshen track supporter who is thrilled to see a competitive team, is standing with 190 to go. No one else is there. I’m right on Klowe’s shoulder. “BLOW HIS DOORS OFF” he bellows. My pleasure, I think, as he fades, flushed off the back. I should have never given him my spot in that state meet.

I pick up the pace today as Steve his about to start his final 200. I’m still in lane 4, but I have a 25 meter headstart. Slowly at first, then faster, I’m on my toes, in a dead sprint as Steve marches me down on my inside. The curve ends and I hold him even for about 70 yards, my left achilles treatening to sever and my lungs tasting the iron of my own blood. “I looked up at the finish and said, ‘oh no, he’s struggling,'” says my Dad concerned about Steve’s workout, “but then I realized it was you.”

Coach Graham pulled Mike St and I aside before a Burke dual meet, of all things, in 12th grade. “I want someone to show some balls out there,” he barked. A football coach, he loved me despite the fact that I was a distance runner. I was a distance runner who always worked harder than everyone else. Who (almost) always won. Who (almost) always could be counted on. You wanted to make Coach Graham proud of you – distance runners always want football coaches to recognize that they’re as tough as their players from the fall. And he knew it. Burke had a guy that could run 4:55. Mike and I could have played with him for a few laps, dropped a 30 second 200, then jogged in with trainers if we wanted – we did such things in these sorts of dual meets. But I took it out in 63, to Graham’s delight. “BALLS” he shouted after the gun. We both run 4:22, the fastest times thus far in the state that early in April. Our fastest for the year also.

I cut the corner after my first fast 200 in several years. The sky is a little grayer, the rain a little harder, the wind a little more fierce, my achilles screaming accusations of abuse. I’m grinning from ear to ear. I just got to open my stride and run. In 12th grade, I did 12×200 in 27.5 with 90 seconds rest on that track. Always find the straight that has the wind, run into that straight. Champions never run with the wind at their back. Always into the wind. Never the easy way. That track won’t let you. The ghosts aren’t holding your legs and punching your face to make you fail; the ghosts are there to make you stronger.

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Honestly, when I heard that a bomb went off near the finish line at Boston, the first thing I thought about was what would happen if I was 100 meters away from running a 2:35 and that happened. I would have dragged myself across the line. I know it’s the incorrect perspective to have, that I should see some bigger picture. Maybe this is why I can’t run anymore, as a punishment because I had misappropriated my passions. But 8 months of training, 26.15 miles of misery, and a final breakthrough toward a time I could have died satisfied with…I was getting across the damn line. It’d not like my spent body was going to be doing much in the way of rescuing; I could barely carry myself across the line in my marathons, and that was without shrapnel.

I mentioned this to my wife. She looked at me with a placid, resigned, incredulity – the sort she uses when she says to herself, “yup, I really need an exit strategy here.”

And then, when some normal person from Grantland expressed dismay at a runner who had commented that this race was his first DNF, I had the same reaction. What was wrong with this person? He still wasn’t done running the marathon 4:09 into the race and he was complaining about DNFs?? I mean, if he were that 78 year old guy, that’s one thing. If I had gone there and run another 2:45 (you know, if I weren’t crippled – a 2:45 ever again in my life would involve an act of God) I would have been thankful to be put out of my misery.

Dear children, these are all inappropriate reactions in such an event! But when I was a senior in high school, meet officials pulled me off the track with 100 meters to go at the end of a po-dunk, 11:00, dual meet 3200 because of a very impending thunderstorm and I was FURIOUS. I could have gone home and run that time in khakis with an elegant toothpick in my mouth, and I was nonetheless irate. A marathon, a hard effort, a good result – no way.

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Don’t Call It A Comeback

I’ve been running a little bit. 5-6 miles, 3-4 times a week. The Achilles is serviceable. I’d say it’s at least as good as it was right before the surgery. My non-Achilles side calf has been bugging me; it’s annoyed that I’ve been making that leg do a disproportionate amount of work these last few months. Today, I ran my second day in a row. Legs are taking it without whining too loudly about it.

Take it slow. Take it slow.

Plan to keep this up, maybe push it to 6-7 miles 4-5 times a week by my backpacking trip in late August. If I survive that (there’s something about lugging 50 lbs of stuff up and down mountains over rocky terrain that can aggravate your feet and tendons. Bunch of cry babies.) then I try to pseudo-train for a month and run the company race. Not trying to run fast. Trying to run 6:00 pace, just to whet my whistle a bit. Then, God willing, I’ll still feel decent. That’s when we ramp to 60 mpw for Dec/Jan, start running some workouts Feb/Mar then race Shamrock in Baltimore in March. It’s a downhill course; if I am in 16:00 pace for that course, I’ll go to work a bit, try to race May/June and get my flat 5K down under 16:00. If I survive all that…back to the summer, no more than 75 mpw, more aerobic threshold, less speed, race the fall season, up to 10Ks. That’s the 15 month plan.

Lots of people ramp up to 60 mpw while having a baby, right?

But nothing’s guaranteed I’m happy to get out on the trails and run, slow though it may be. I’m not owed this. We’ll see. But I’m a runner. Runners run, we can’t help it.

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