So I did win, after all. Sometimes you wake up feeling good, and it's all pretty easy. Those are good days, and I'm growing increasingly comfortable with my relative inability to predict them--much less conjure them. Still, Winter in March, a cold wind ripping through the trees, snow falling during the last mile... I'll take all of that, whenever I can get it. In general, I really do just love this race. It's very, very local; virtually the entire field is Lawrence, not even "greater Kansas City", but there's something to be said for intimate, family-reunion type races.
My workouts have been road/track exclusive for the past few months, and it will never not be shocking how much slower real trail running actually is. 1:28:35, 6:46 pace, is still conversational--and yet the legs have to navigate banked trail, 180-degree turns, and of course, hills. The course was designed for mountain bike racing, so it really is the turns that stand out. There are a lot of them, and many are quite acute. So, my hips and ankles feel it.
I wore the Nike Zoom Streak XC, which didn't help in the "keep the legs feeling fresh" department. Too little shoe for a half, and I don't really know what I was thinking, since I've never gone past 10K in them. They did allow for this cool picture, though.
Anyway I've got a road mile on Friday, which has only one turn, but it's 180-degrees, right in the middle, which should be horrible but fun in a masochistic sort of way. There will be very fast people who will pull impossibly far away, given the distance, and it will not be conversational. I'll probably find something to say after the fact, though.
Training--more or less--for that and racing this half, I'm still in a place where I can imagine a perfectly fulfilled running life racing only within those margins. I'd expected some lingering disappointment at not having finished my attempt at a 100, but there's nothing. I still don't care what my road marathon PR is, either. But I do care that I can pop my ankle like most people pop their knuckles, right where I sprained it last fall. It gets sore, too, every so often, and I'm beginning to suspect it'll just be one of this "things" most runners eventually get--lingering not-quite injuries that nag perpetually. That anxiety--granted, of course one can get hurt training for and racing shorter distances--combined with my present fondness for harder running means that, while I have nothing like a goal moving forward, I know roughly what I'm going to be doing.