I elected to heed these (potentially) wise words and give it a whirl. Now, I must say, I've never been one for running "fast". I tend to keep at conversational pace and run around a 7:20 pace for a half marathon. So venturing into the realm of high-heartrate and jelly-legs was something new for me. I tried to keep the majority of my workouts below a seven minute pace for a couple of weeks once I discovered the potential that this approach held. At first I experienced several days of sore calves, as expected, but every workout I noted that my breathing became more controlled and I was able to find a rhythm in my stride and body motion that just made it feel easier.
I took this mentality of speed over sprawl with me out west as Melissa, Luna, and I made our way to Arkansas to celebrate the marriage of my cousin, Matthew, and his new wife, Ana. I must take this time to insert that I absolutely love my family and family get-togethers are always such a joyous time.
Anywho, after spending some time in Arkansas and getting to run the trail in Jonesboro a few times (and hopping on the treadmill in the hotel), we took advantage of our time in unexplored territory and elected to do some adventuring in Western Kentucky. We met up with my dear friend Blake and a new friend, Whitney, and spent the day climbing some relatively unused crags. It had been a while since any of us had climbed so we did a few 5-8 sport routes and called it quits.
Climbing in Dawson Springs, KY
Once we arrived back at Pennyrile State Resort Park where we were to camp and I immediately laced up my shoes and grabbed my headlamp for a night run. The five of us (12 legs) headed down to check out the lake before sunset. What a gem that park is, and a beautiful time of year to be there. After playing some rigorous fetch into the lake for at least 30 minutes, I considered myself warmed up to depart on the run.
This run was a ~4 mile loop around the lake that featured a few hills for the conquering. It felt absolutely incredible. Running at night is like that- just using one small headlight to see the ground 5 feet in front of you and simply relying on having faith and strength enough to push off with confidence into the darkness. I truly felt as though I was riding the wind.
Warm-up Fetch Session
The next day we started back east, only to stop again two short hours later at Mammoth Cave National Park. After driving through the fantastic fall foliage across the rising and falling of the never-ending hills, the arrival at the visitor's center left me dumbfounded. How can a park so beautiful as this, with so many opportunities for camping, hiking, running, biking, and horseback riding, and the world's longest cave(392 miles of mapped cave, and much more that is in the process of being mapped) be so evidently underfunded and under appreciated (as far as numbers of visitors is concerned). But, alas, that is the case. I would encourage anyone that finds themselves in the area to devote a couple of days to it.
The Frozen Niagara Formation
We took a tour of the cave under the guidance of an incredibly knowledgeable and passionate guide and spent the rest of the day above ground. Here we, surprise surprise, decided to go on a run to get to see as much of the park as we could in the little time we had. The first two miles of the run I had great company in Mel and Luna, but then I went ahead to finish the last 6 miles on my own and the two ladies headed back from whence we came. I ran fast and hard and through discomfort and I loved every second of it. What a peaceful way to meditate and pray running can be! My performance on this run left me feeling very confident in my ability to preform well in the FootRx Grand Prix race only five short days away back in Asheville.
Mammoth Cave National Park