Things are progressing well. The mileage is back up there after 90+ last week. I've even managed to get a little speed back in the legs. Heck, I was out for an easy 7 yesterday evening when I ran into a buddy just a couple miles from home. We decided to run a couple miles together on my way home. Well, those couple miles turned into 7. Obviously a good sign that my legs are handling the increased mileage nicely.
Back when I was in Vermont for the marathon in May I was able to join my good friend Troy for the weekly Catamount 5k Trail Series the Tuesday after the marathon. I loved every single bit of it, and yearned for something like that back here in Santa Cruz. Turns out I got my wish. I was recently directed to the Nisene Marks Summer Trail Series. While it doesn't come close to what Catamount has to offer in course variation, competitiveness, and organization, I definitely can't complain because it is free. Unfortunately I would hardly call it a trail run though. The majority of the race is on the fire road, with a half mile portion on some nice single track (I was told last year it was mostly single track, but too many people were having troubles getting lost, so they changed it this year). And the turnout could be a little greater. But I can't complain, because it isn't costing me anything. I see it as a good way to get a nice quick little workout in every week.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect competition wise. I quickly pointed out my main two competitors. The three of us went out at about 5:20 pace and I fell into 3rd place about a quarter mile in. The pace felt pretty effortless and I hit the first mile in 5:29. It didn't take very long for me to start reeling in the two runners in front of me. I passed the second place guy shortly after the first mile. Not a minute later I made my move on the leader and noticed we was breathing quite heavy, while I was completely under control. He stayed on my heels for a bit, but right after we rounded the trees and turned onto the single track I really turned it on. I put a big gap on him and knew I had this one in the bag. Came out of the single track with a nice lead and hit mile two in 5:39. From there it was all cruise control. Mile 3 was 5:29, with the final 0.55 coming in at a 5:08 pace, and a 19:25 first place finish. All in all a solid effort, but no where near an all out effort. Pretty happy with the way this turned out, as my breathing was under control and the pace felt pretty comfortable the entire way. I guess I am in better shape than I thought. I will definitely be back next week to defend my title.
Oh yeah, almost forgot...I signed up for the Vermont 50 this evening. So there it is folks, the next big one on the calendar. I will lay it all out there now and say that the main goal of this race is to secure an automatic entry for Western States next year. That will require a top two overall finish. I definitely have my work cut out for myself these next 10 weeks, but I am fully up for the task. I felt that switch finally click on yesterday's run. The determination and focus is back. I am ready to crush this thing.