Saturday I ran my last race of the year - #30. I never intended to run that number, but it's funny how that fell on my the year of my 30th birthday. I certainly won't be going for 31 next year.
This weekend was the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler, a favorite of mine, and just about everyone else in the Baltimore/MD/DC/VA/PA areas, as 3500 people were registered for this hilly, cold, December 5 miler. In the 7 years I've lived here, I have run this race every year except for 2009, when I wasn't running. I've had good races, I've had okay races, but I've never had a bad race here, and I wasn't planning on a bad day on Saturday. The course had changed, and was now slightly harder, so I figured if I could just run around 30 minutes, I'd be very happy with that.
In the past two weeks, I've tried to bring up my running mileage and see if I can get more comfortable running again. I had a really good run on Thursday night with Ed, when it was 60 degrees and we didn't have to wear shirts. But by Friday, the mercury dipped, and by Saturday morning, it was pretty cold. I ran 10 miles with Brennan, Zero and Chrissie on Friday night, and was a little worse for the wear on Saturday morning. My morning duties included riding around on a school bus that was shuttling runners back and forth to the start line. I finished that up at 8:20, dropped off my stuff and tried to run for a minute or two to warm up. Once again, I donned one of the best running outfits of the day - Under Armour camo spandex, my red and black striped gloves, and my bright orange Adidas Bostons.
Despite the race being so huge, it's not at all a fight for the start line. And, considering literally everyone in the top 50 or so runs with us or are other locals, it's a pretty friendly start. Got going up the hill, and when I hit the first mile in 5:40 I knew the mark was clearly off. I heard a GPS watch beep about 20 seconds later, which seemed more correct. Mile 2 was 6:14, which probably made up for the short first mile, and then mile 3 was 6:03. Seemed pretty good. I was running mostly by myself, with the exception of a dude, also named Ryan, wearing pirate pants and Vibrams, who was just ahead, and responded to all my friends on course cheering for me.
As we hit the lake, I just tried to keep the legs turning over. Mile 4 was a slow 6:17, so I wasn't sure if I was actually running that slow, or if it was long again. Either way, with 600m to go, we turned downhill to the finish, and my knee was just not letting me open up. I saw my watch tick just over 30, and I crossed at 30:07. Not a bad day, a little faster than last year, on a little bit harder of a course, so I'm pleased with it.
Sunday morning it was time for a long run, and I met up with some of the guys at Gilman to head out on a 13 mile run. It was a difficult route conceived by Nate and Ed, a lot of climbing, a lot of downhills. We held 7s for the run, probably starting a little slower and picking it up to the 6:50 realm by the end. I then hopped on the track for a mile to see what we were running: 1:40 (6:40/mi-ish). I felt that was about right for how we had finished the run. Then I picked it up a little, going 1:37, 1:33, 1:29 for a 6:20 last mile. I felt good about the day, but my knee is in bad shape.
I'm not sure why, the 53 mile week, while one of the biggest I've had in a while, is not the biggest week I've had - and I wasn't really doing much else to wear on the knee. I think it's just the cold. Knee is very stiff, very tight. I hope it can loosen up or I'm going to be in trouble this winter!