Saturday, March 17, 2012

Top of the mornin' run at Bethpage State Park

Today's run (Bethpage State Park): 8.2 miles

Green Day
Happy St. Patty's Day. I'm not Irish, but in honor of the holiday I wore my kelly green quarter-zip on today's run. This was to be my weekend base building run and, after a later than usual start,  I headed over to Bethpage State Park.

When I arrived I saw a few dozen runners dressed in green circling the parking lot in what looked to be an informal race or a fun run. Many wore leprechaun hats or green St. Patty's themed headgear. There were no signs saying what the event was for, but people seemed to be having a good time.

I wore the new Spira Stinger XLT's because I was curious to see how they would do on a long and hilly run. After getting past the first short hill and making my way down the long hill that followed, I was into the wooded section of the bike trail where the first mile seems to come quickly. I felt a little stronger than last Saturday, when I ran the trail for 7.4 miles. I hoped that I'd feel even better as I went along today.

The XLT's provided a responsive platform and felt comfortable underfoot throughout the entire run. It wasn't until I was into my third mile that I detected a hot spot above my left heel. I hoped it would go away but it grew worse, and when I reached 3.75 miles I needed to stop for a minute to adjust my sock and re-tie my lace. That did the trick and I continued south, passing over the Southern State and turning around at Linden St. after passing the 4 mile mark.

There were many runners, walkers and cyclists on the trail today. I recognized a lot of the runners that I see almost every time I run at Bethpage. At one point on my return leg, I was behind three women who were trotting alongside a man who was race-walking. They were all dressed in St. Patty's attire. This group took up the entire path and I had to run in the dirt on the left side to get by. They acted annoyed that I didn't greet them when I passed them. One woman yelled an unfriendly-sounding, "Top of the mornin' to ye!"

This was the third consecutive weekend since I started my half marathon training and I was pleased with the way I felt throughout the first six miles. Like last week, it was the last two miles that really challenged me. It's as much mental as physical. The last mile and a half have the biggest hills, and I always dread the final long climb.

I made it through the second-worst hill that comes a mile before the start (and finish). I was hurting but still managed to pass a few slower runners as I made my approach to the last hill. I gritted my teeth and went for it, slogging my way along the longest half mile of the run before finishing with a short downhill run to the parking lot.

It was a hard workout but I improved on my pace from last Saturday's 7.4 mile run. I don't think I'd do too well if the half marathon was next weekend, but there are still six weekends to train before the race. Tomorrow's run will be for recovery. I'm looking forward to that.

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