Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Weather or not

Looking at the weather report last night, I was torn. There were thunderstorms forecast all night long, but they were slated to end around 6:00. But when exactly? Our regular Tuesday DART run is scheduled for 6 a.m. If the storms ended at 5:45, then a run should be no problem, but if the stormy weather continued until 6:45, it could be dangerous. I decided to set my alarm for 5:30 and reassess.

When I awoke, I couldn't hear any rain on the roof. I checked the weather again and it looked like we were in a lull, with only "showers" and no lightning in the forecast. I put on a pair of shorts and a compression shirt and headed downstairs, checking Facebook as I put my shoes on. No one had posted a definite "I won't be there" but since it had been thundering all night, I wouldn't be surprised if no one showed up. Chad, the most reliable Tuesday companion, had just run a hundred miler this weekend and would only be showing up for coffee afterwards, if at all.

I drove into town, noting that there were small downed branches everywhere. I waited until 6:02 to confirm that no one would be showing up. Then I decided to head out at a fairly quick pace. There was no rain, it was quite warm, but also windy. The first mile was downhill into a strong headwind: 7:40. Mile 2 was surrounded by trees on the uphill segment, and again featured a downhill-into-the-wind section: 7:32. Mile 3 is usually the fastest on the DART loop. There was a little wind here, but not enough to really slow me down: 7:13. Mile 4 was annoying. My shoe came untied twice. Once again, however, only the downhill section was into the wind. As I started the long, nearly constant uphill segment that went from Mile 3.5 to 5.5, I had a nice crosswind to keep me cool in the 60-degree weather; my split was 7:31.

Mile 5 is always the mile that determines how the DART loop will go; it's nearly all uphill. I used to strive for an 8-minute pace on this mile, but as I've gotten faster, I try to push the time on this mile closer to 7:45 or 7:40. Today I completed it in 7:42. Mile 6 starts out uphill, then heads down and back into town. At this point the rain started coming down hard. After about 30 seconds of rain my glasses were useless and I took them off. This made it harder to see the branches that were littering the sidewalk -- and the runners and walkers headed my direction. I kept pushing as hard as I could, avoiding several branches and people at the last second. Mile 6's pace: 7:40 -- a little slower than I would have run it under normal conditions. Finally I cruised back into town for a 7:28 pace for the final 0.36 miles. That was a 47:55 loop, a 7:32 pace; my second-fastest ever. Not bad given the weather!

Since I had pushed pretty hard on the run I decided to do a bit of a cooldown, about another mile at a 9:30 pace. Then I got back to the car and changed into a new shirt before heading over to Summit for coffee.

Details of today's run are below:

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