Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Swamp Yankee Spring

The term "Yankee" connotes urbane industriousness, while the term "Swamp Yankee" signifies a more countrified, stubborn, independent, and less refined subtype.
--Wikipedia Article on "Swamp Yankee"


Here in southern New England, we live by an adage -- "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes." This time of year, that adage proves especially true -- and it goes both ways. If you do like the weather, in five minutes you probably won't.

In my little corner of the world, we aren't just Yankees. We're called "Swamp Yankees" because our ancestors moved down from the Massachusetts Bay Colony and into the "swampy" parts of Rhode Island. We put up with not only the cold winters, but some especially rapid changes in the weather because of our close proximity to the ocean and the climate that goes along with the tidal estuary that is Narragansett Bay.

I like living here. I grew up here. I've moved around a bit, but this is a corner of the world in which I feel most at home. There are some very unique challenges to training here, but I think they give me a bit of added toughness when it comes to races in a variety of conditions. I've run in -25 degree weather, I've run in 98 degree summers. All spans of humidity. All types of wind, rain, hail, snow. You name it, I've run through it. In some cases all in one run.

I have to admit, though, that when we hit the vernal equinox and start bouncing from 60 degree days down to 30 degrees with several inches of snow, that's when I start to get frustrated. It is nice to have the added time with my daughter, nice to have another day with my family where we can spend time together, it frustrates the hell out of me as an athlete. I have all the issues of having to drag myself out on a cold run, while at the same time fighting with the strong urge to over train that comes with the nice Spring weather. It is the best and worst of both worlds.

I was concerned for my training plan Monday night that I would need to run in my spikes. Sure enough, true to New England form, the weather was mid-40s and sunny. So I went out in my Vibram KMDs, shorts, and a long sleeved shirt. This was an OK choice, I was definitely moving at a good clip, but by the time I hit the turn around four miles in, the sun was going down and I was getting chilly. I decided to head back a bit earlier. By the time I had gotten home, my ears were feeling pangs of chill from the drop in temperature. Had I worn a real hat that wouldn't have been a problem, but I took for granted the late sunset and how rapidly the temperature can drop that late in the day.

My GPS also cut out a mile for some reason, which really irks me, but whatever. It was a good run otherwise.

My legs have been feeling beat lately. I've thrown in some quadrupedal movement drills (a la Parkour) to build some more core strength and balance -- as cross training. I'm not sure, but I am feeling it a bit in my quads so I think I need to really check my form, make sure I'm evenly distributed on my arms and legs. I'm having fun with it, though, and using my basement as a training space. This week is more or less a mini-taper for Eastern States, so I'm sure I'll be OK for that race. Not planning to PR, but planning it as a training run for Big Sur. So, around three hours for that race will be fine with me. Weather (hopefully) will be a nice, sunny 45 degrees on race day without too much wind. Given how little I trust myself, and how much I dread being caught on the New Hampshire seacoast without a jacket should the need for one arise, I am thinking of bringing a bag with me. It will give me the added benefit of allowing me to carry some food and the race shirt, which I always end up carrying on my person after being bused to the start.

After Eastern States, I'll start one more build week of about 51 miles, and then the actual taper for Big Sur. My plan has me doing a two week taper rather than what I usually do (about three or four weeks.) We'll see how it goes, but given the reputation Big Sur has I'm not really setting any time goal. I just want to go and enjoy running on the other coast, seeing the sights and then hopefully jumping in the pacific at the end.

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