Namaste! Congratulations on your noble racing effort at the Flag 10k, and go(o)d luck teaching your HP Yoga classes! Today finds me with clogged sinuses, sore throat, and dull headache…in other words, the perfect opportunity to pull out the “IDEO Checklist” you published in DL a few months back. I am steadfastly working my way through the list with an assist from my wife, who dashed out for some Echinacea and Garlic this morning.

The beginnings of this cold were present when I awoke at 4:30 yesterday morning, but were not enough to keep me from heading 100 miles north for the Pfalz Point Challenge. As the first trail race I ever ran, Pfalz Point is near and dear to my heart. Yesterday was my third straight year running the race -my previous times:

2006: 1:27:16 (104th out of 306 finishers)
2007: 1:25:17 (95th out of 306)
2008: ???

Toed the start line with mixed expectations. On the plus side, I was only three weeks removed from the maximum effort of Imogene. As you said, this “should feel like a track workout” in comparison. On the down side, this would be my first long run since Imogene, a combination of recovery turning into inertia, repaying some family practice debts, and helping to coach Lucas’ flag football team. Further complicating things, Hurricane Kyle had dealt a glancing blow to NY on its way up the East Coast. Lots of rain on Friday / Saturday, leaving the course a gloppy mess in places, and race day weather that was very warm / humid / foggy – about the furthest thing from the crisp pranic Southwestern air I breathed with you.

At any rate, off went the horn, and off we went through a meadow and into the woods. For the first couple of miles, I felt pretty strong, getting to the 2 mile mark in around 17 minutes. Miles 3-5 are a long, steady, climb, and I got really bogged down. I was working breath and mantra as strongly as I could, but was unable to convert that into leg turnover. I hit the mid-way point in 48 minutes, having long since lost contact with my buddy Tony, who was running the race with me.

Needing to refocus, I made the balance of the race about a few things:

Focus on the yoga: low shoulders, loose, pumping arms, deep breath
Pound the downhills
“Screw the tank” – this is long ago advice from you when I asked for counsel for how to pace myself on MAF intervals to make sure I had “something left in the tank” at the end. Whatever my time, I committed to hitting the finish line knowing I had left everything on the trail

With the exception of the swarm of yellowjackets that attacked in mile 7 (I got two stings on my arms and one on my right calf), the race ended much better than it began. I powered through the steepest climb on the course, in mile 8, with no problems. I ran the last 2.5 miles in 17 minutes, my fastest segment of the race. And, most importantly, I won my race within the race against the dude in the orange Under Armour shirt. He and I had been going back and forth for most of the race. I lost contact with him around the 6 mile mark, but caught a glimpse of his shirt well ahead of me with about 2 miles to go. Gritting my teeth and pumping my legs, I slowly reeled him in, finally catching him on a downhill with about 1/2 mile to go. He passed me on the next small climb, but I dove inside him on the last switchback and got the jump through the 1/4 mile descent that finishes the race.

Crossing the finish line, I saw I had run 1:31:15, by far my “personal worst” for this race, good for 116th place out of ~315 runners. Not my best effort ever, but my best effort on this day. In keeping with tradition, we headed to the local brewpub for burgers, brews, and story telling, than pointed the car south and headed back to the city. Awoke this morning with sensation in my thighs and no more races on my calendar. I am ready when you are to turn the page on a memorable season and write the next chapter of my journey. Please let me know your thoughts on my next practice update when time permits.

Student L’Gate

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