In theory this week was going to be a cut back/mini-taper before the Dirt Dash in South Carolina this Saturday. Since it was an extra week that I added to the marathon training schedule, I planned just to wing it on workouts based on how I was feeling. Sunday I decided on a 16-miler, which seemed long enough to be hard, but not completely leg-deadening. Rather than doing my usual steady pace, even-split approach, I opted for a fast finish run, which I thought might get me primed for the half this week. I started out running 10 minute miles with the Caveboy, then dropped to around 9’s after about 5 miles, and mid-to-low 8’s for the last 4.
I finished the long run feeling great, and I headed into this week flush with optimism. I also happened to catch this article on Runners’ World this week on increasing training just before a taper, and I started getting ideas. Monday would normally have been an off day, but instead I decided to go for broke and scheduled a strength session. After 45 minutes with Gillian my legs and core were quivering and I was high on endorphins. I chased that workout with an easy 5 on Tuesday, and then decided this morning to squeeze in an interval workout. I now have two days of travel and enforced rest, and if you count the rest of today, it’s really almost 3 full days before the half.
I’m generally a worst-case-scenario type of person, but I’m feeling uncharacteristically optimistic about the Dirt Dash. I hadn’t planned to really race hard on Saturday, but once I got the runner instructions email this week, I realized two things:
1. This race is really small.
2. It is on an access road through the woods and swamp.
For some reason, that got me really excited. I know I’m completely in denial about the heat, humidity, and pterodactyl-sized mosquitos we will likely encounter. Still, the idea of just running through the woods sounds like a nice change from stampeding through Central Park with 4,000 other people and being pampered every step of the way by New York Road Runners’ fabulous volunteers. (Not that I’m knocking it.) I know I could totally melt down in the heat, and I may have pushed myself too hard this week to recover in time. Still, I feel like this is going to be fun.