Yesterday did 21.5 or so w/ E, JW & SK. E laid out a loop taking us out to the far NW end of West Philly, doing circles in Morris Park and going down the Cobbs Creek bikepath to Woodland. At this point I left this good company and I hammered the last 2.75 in a 6:25 pace. 21.5 went in a little over 2:57.
Today I ran the Schulkill Loop Race, the longest ongoing race in Philadelphia. It was a more or less spur of the moment decision to run this. It was a beautiful day, sunny and in the 60s to run this course, which was basically a loop around the Drives. Its 8.4 miles, and its the fourth year I've raced this. I have a soft spot for this race as five years ago, when I first ran this race, I got my first sub 6 mile split and realized how far I could take my running. Each time I've done it since I'd lowered my previous time.
This time around I'm out of the chute in a comfortable pace and, after riding out the usual initial wave of anxiety I get on starting a race, feel relaxed and find myself at the front of the pack. We pass in front of the Art Museum and over the bridge (under Spring Garden St) into a strong headwind and I realize that my lead puts me at a tactical disadvantage, with two guys drafting close behind me. But I'm still loose and for once not worried about winning, and at some point find that the shadows lurking behind me are no longer there. Next thing I know JJ, who I hadn't seen in ages and was biking the Drives, bikes past me and says I've got a 100 yard lead. By this time the splits tell me I'm cranking out steady 5:40s and I know as long as I can keep this up I'll win. The rest of the race was lonely, but without the usual hunted feeling I get when I'm in the lead. Several folks out running on the Drives recognize me and cheer me on. I know exactly where I am at all times and I'm amazed at how strong I feel. And I cruise to my first victory in a long time. Final time was 47:25, 16 seconds faster than my previous course best. This gets me an oversized trophy and a $100 gift certificate to Philadelphia Runner, which is a nice prize.
I've got alot more thoughts on today, yesterday, and what is to come, but I don't have the time to write. I celebrate the start of my taper tomorrow with a day off, and I feel like my training has ended climactically, with two solid runs. I'll put in one challenging workout and some maintenance runs this week and head up to NYC on Friday to guide a blind Mongolian. I'll write more on that in the week to come. But not tomorrow.
Also, as was pointed out in a comment, there will actually be more, and not less daylight now that Daylight Saving Time has arrived. Don't know what I was thinking in the last blog entry, I'll call it poetic license as the prospect of shorter days fit my mood that day. Instead of stolen time, the extra daylight we get is but borrowed, as darkness will re-envelop the morning runs soon enough.