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Trail race, backpack running, and thinking ahead.


The whole “Lower Mileage May” thing didn’t end up happening, because after taking a week mostly off, I found myself feeling refreshed and motivated. Why fight it?

A few things happened since I last posted:

I ran a few races, one of which was a 6K trail run.

This course was flat, aside from a few bumpy motocross-esque rollers in the first and last miles, and I finished in 23:16, which seems about right for my current fitness. The more exciting aspect of the race is that the two guys who finished directly ahead of me crossed the line at about 23:07 and 23:13. Yes – I WAS THREE SECONDS BEHIND THE PERSON IN FRONT OF ME.

Being within seconds of the next finisher occurs with such little frequency here that it becomes a celebratory occasion when it happens. I thought I was going to reel him in, but I ran out of course in the end and am regretful that I didn’t push it a little harder to make things more exciting. Bleh. This uninspired complacency has become something of a theme in my racing over the past couple of years here, so maybe I’ll change that and have a chills-on-the-back-of-your-neck kick-to-the-finish at some point soon.

I overcame my infantile temporary life-trajectory meltdown and am back to being happy about returning to the east coast for school. To be honest, the fact that Juneau just logged one of the coldest and rainiest Mays on record made me far more amenable to the idea of leaving.

I’m turning into a backpack runner. My afternoon office is about four miles from my apartment, and I’ve started running home from work with my backpack on a few times a week. All my morning runs are out-and-backs or loops of some kind, so it feels mentally enriching to do a point-to-point route instead.

BIG plus about running home is that it means I don’t have to sit around waiting for the perpetually late bus and miss the transfer and what-all. Also, I get really anxious about interacting with drunk people on public transit. Most everybody knows that alcoholism is a tough issue in Alaska, and when the city bus is your primary form of transportation here, this reality becomes blindingly apparent. Drunk dudes on my 1pm and 5:15/5:45pm commutes: please, please, please — I’m spinelessly polite and I’ll chat with you if you initiate a conversation, but please, just let me sit here and read my book. I don’t want to weather your rotten breath and leery-eyed creepiness and slurred incomprehensible chitchat. I don’t want to be perched with 1/4 a butt cheek on the seat, crammed as far as I can get against the window because your concept of personal space has evaporated, listening to you bark out cotton-mouthed expletives within earshot of stricken, wide-eyed little kids.

So a few days per week, I’ve been running home instead. How I managed to overlook this glorious alternative to the bus up until this point is well beyond me. Everybody who has made fun of me in the past few weeks for jogging around with a backpack on can go pound sand. What a fantastic way to end the work day.

Additional thoughts, in bullet form because maybe it will force me to shorten my paragraphs:

  • I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon (another nail in the coffin for this move-to-Philly thing). If I stay motivated and injury-free, I fully expect to be somewhere in the 3:05 range. On the other hand, yikes, that sounds bold.
  • I’ve started logging my training on a Google spreadsheet. (…but I’m still writing it in my notebook because I don’t fully trust technology). Anyway, now you can see all the stupid things I do when I “train,” if you so desire. And maybe you’re thinking this 80mpw zone is way too much for somebody at my level, but you know what? This is the time. If I’m lucky, I’ve got another 5-7 years to ride the coattails of youth, make the best of the ‘athletic prime of life,’ and see how good I can get at this running thing. So I’m going to keep this going for as long as I enjoy it and see where it takes me.
  • I will get my clock cleaned by the heat and humidity when I move back east. The running weather in Juneau is mostly perfect year-round (temperature-wise if not motivation-wise). It never gets that cold, and it never gets too warm either. 40s and rainy is pretty much the norm here and it’s nearly impossible to attribute a slow run to the weather (unless snow and ice are involved). I’m mentally preparing myself for paces to shoot up and mileage to drop, all beginning July 1st.
  • A family of absurdly vocal crows has moved into the tree right next to my bedroom window. Someone please send me a gun or a better set of ear plugs.
5 Comments leave one →
  1. Ewen permalink
    06/11/2012 00:55

    Sounds like you’re going well. That’s cool to be in a race and feel like you’re close enough to people to be actually racing. 23:16 is a good time for a course with a few motocross jumps – we have a course with one ‘jump’ and I have to walk that hill! 3:05 seems pretty logical for a marathon goal.

    Just looking at your diary – the links don’t work for me ‘maybe something like this’ etc. Anwyay, good idea. I’m sure Google is safe – they probably back up every couple of seconds.

    Your commute runs remind me of when I was doing that. Felt great to be using running for something purposeful. Gave it away in winter. Minus 7 mornings are too cold for me. Yes, soft, old.

    • 06/11/2012 07:48

      Hm, maybe the links aren’t meant to work out of the share? They still work for me. I’ve been slapping stuff on there just to take a look at it again when the week comes. One was just a link to an RT article that I wanted to remind myself to look at:, the other is a link to a local running series so that I wouldn’t forget it existed. As for the header, I got rid of it temporarily to declutter things… I might put it back.

      I’d have been hard-pressed to run home from work in the winter — between the darkness, snowy surface and a wind blowing in my face out of the southeast the whole time. But now that the weather is (relatively) nice and the daylight is back, it’s been so nice.

      • Ewen permalink
        06/13/2012 01:53

        Thanks – good article. Like all McMillan’s ideas for HM training.

  2. Ewen permalink
    06/11/2012 00:57

    Forgot to say, your images are missing for me – banner etc. Think the problem might be your end – maybe temporary. I’ll check next time.

  3. 06/11/2012 06:15

    Congrats on the race!! And Philly Marathon — woo hoo! I use a spreadsheet too for training. I think it’s a great tool. Enjoy your remaining time in Alaska, and happy moving this fall.

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