I was psyched to see the temperature on LI was 38 degrees when I watched the news at 6:00 AM this morning. In the last year I’ve learned that I run much better when it’s cold and I enjoy the experience more. That is until the temperature drops into the teens and then I love it a bit less. Still, I’ll take 18 degrees over 88 anytime. The plan was for me and my nephew to run Stillwell Woods, a local preserve that has many twisty trails and variable elevations. These trails are really meant for cyclists and you see many of them there, often when you don’t expect it. The experience of running Stillwell can be amazing as the scene changes from moment to moment and the challenges can go from modest to ridiculous. It’s two weeks until the Cape Cod Marathon and I knew I needed to focus more on distance than terrain so we decided to go with a Plan B instead: Belmont Lake State Park, home to the Dirty Sock 10K.
The trails at BLSP are straight and the elevations are modest and few. Most importantly, the course is much more measurable and measuring distance against my readiness was my goal. We both appreciated the cool air and the absence of humidity when we arrived. As an experiment we ate a couple of Luna Sport Moons to get some start up energy. The pomegranate flavor was good and between that and the beautiful day I was really ready to get going. I was concerned that a strong start would lead to a weak finish but that was not the case. We headed north along the main trail and it was nice to experience the course again without the competitive edge of a race. DaveADK and I ran this route a couple of weeks before the 10K and it was a similar feeling. Knowing the route somewhat I expected it to seem longer but it was very much the opposite. My nephew maintained a strong pace alongside me and when we got to the north lake I told him about some of the experiences I’d had at that point of the race. I remembered thinking that getting around the lake was going to be tough but today it was fairly easy. In fact today’s run was remarkably smooth. At the 4 mile mark I had another Luna Moon to see if it would give me a boost. It’s hard to say if it did but my lack of difficulty throughout the latter part of the run indicates it may have helped. I’ll be bringing some along during the marathon runs.
We ended up covering 6.13 miles at 9:22 but our pace felt faster than that. Although the course is flat for a wooded trail it does have surfaces that inhibit performance so I’m equating 9:22 to about 9:07 on the street. I really think we could have pushed it harder, especially near the end, but we elected to just enjoy the experience at a pace that felt good. I’m pleased with my progress as I move closer to October 25th. Today reinforced that I can cover 6 miles at a credible pace without pushing close to my limits. I have a feeling that facing 9 miles on the marathon course will test those limits.