Running in the Mississippi summer does get easier!

After our nice long run with the Boardtown running group last Saturday, we went for an easy 6.5 run Sunday evening at 7 pm. Just a few of us, Joseph, Steve, Kamau and I, so we started from the South Farm, ran through the campus, then down University Dr., down Louisville St., Gillespie St. and back through the campus to the parking lot.  I was tired before we started, as I did a mountain bike ride that morning at the Tombigbee National Forest for a while. But, Kamau actually had a harder time than me today after eating at Mugshots for supper at around 5 pm then playing soccer for a while before running with us! Crazy joker. Anyway, Joseph seemed to be more invigorated than us. He ran ahead and we did not see him for a while, until he turned around and came back and joined us.  He probably ran an extra mile or so.  I ran with Steve and Kamau until he rejoined us, then on the way back we ran together for awhile until Joseph and I picked it up (or maybe they slowed down a bit). We ran pretty strong to about Barnes and Nobles, then slowed down near the forestry dept. for a cool down run. Steve and Kamau finished up pretty closely behind us (a minute or two).  They must have pushed it pretty good the last mile or so, because they were quite a ways behind earlier.

On Monday Joseph got up and ran about 3 miles (easy on our trail), which he followed by a core workout later in the morn before lunch. I got a pretty good weight workout that afternoon myself. These upper body (especially) workouts really augment running programs and are great for getting in overall shape. That evening we did a tempo run at the North Farm. The usual folks, Steve, Kamau, Joseph, Ethan, and I ran. Also, Steve persuaded a couple of college girls to run with us. Joseph took off and did a warm up run, then  joined us later. The two girls, who ran about 3 miles (more or less), took off first, then Steve headed out to see if he could catch them after giving them a good head start. They all three did a good job. Ethan, Kamau and I started a couple minutes later. Ethan had a twisted ankle, which he taped up so he could run, so he ran pretty easy.  Kamau and I kept up a pretty good pace and our first two miles were under 12 minutes, and I think were just over 18 at the 3 mile mark (or at least where I think 3 miles is), then we jogged the last mile easier. Even with jog, we ended up with a 6:30 per mile pace. Joseph was under 6 minutes per mile, but I am not exactly sure what his pace was.  Anyway, we all felt pretty good and ran at a decent pace.

On Tuesday morning, Joseph again ran on the trail, about 40 minutes, how ever many miles that works out to. Basically, just an easy recovery run that followed our tempo run the night before. It is nice that we have the grassy trail for him to run on! And, of course, it is much cooler in the morning. That evening at 7 pm we again ran at the North Farm.  Ethan and his sister (Shanika), Russ Paterson, Steve, Joseph, Julie, and I all ran today. Julie did her own workout, but the rest of us did a five X 1000 meter intervals on the grass, following a warm up jog and followed by a cool down jog (Ethans sister only did 3 and at a much easier pace).  These intervals are not designed to be super fast in the summer, but simply a way to run a little faster in the heat with rest breaks and something to keep us from getting too bored with simple, easy summer running. In between each 1000m run, we rested about 3 minutes, which a good time to stretch and drink some water. My first one was pretty good, about 3:19, but I started off too fast, getting to the halfway point in about 1:30. It always seems really easy when you start, but gets hard very quickly!  I was actually ahead of Joseph at the halfway point, but he caught me at some point and passed me. Russ and Ethan ran together for the first two, running about 3:48 or so, and Steve was back a bit from them. I ran the 3rd through 5th with Ethan and Russ, but finishing a good bit ahead of them; except for the last one, where I challenged Russ a bit. That was by far his fastest one at about 3:19. I barely finished ahead of him. Russ is in crazy good shape and is the fastest guy overall on the MSU triatholon team. He is running with us to try to get his running times faster. He is a great swimmer already and a decent biker.  Joseph also pushed the last one a little, and ran about 3:01, easily kicking our butts! Ethan ran faster on that one too, especially considering his ankle was still sore.  One of the coolest things about the run tonight was that we ran through a swarm of mating ants.  With  sun block liberally applied to my body, the ants became plastered to my body. After the first run, I had to clean the ants off of me.  I collected them and put them in a bottle of water. These particular ants were thief ants in the genus Solenopsis. I was very happy to collect both males and females of this species, which is in a taxonomically challenging species group with several similar species. I needed some females and males to measure and photograph!!!!  I put the bottle of ants out of the way, so I wouldn’t drink them by mistake, but by the time I had done the next run, I forgot and started drinking the ant water! Fortunately, I quickly remembered and stopped before swallowing any ants!

On Wednesday, I went collecting in north MS and did not return until late Thursday around 4:30 pm. Whew! It was hot, and I was worn out! While I was gone, Joseph ran a few easy miles on Wed. and did his crazy core workout. He also ran about 20 minutes Thursday morning. That evening, we met at the South Farm to run. Steve pulled in just as we did. Abigail also joined us, and she jogged 4 miles. Her mom walked for a long time herself! Julie did a 3 mile run, with the middle mile being faster. Steve ran with Abigail, and when they got done, ran another mile or so. Russ ran too, going about 4 miles. He was already worn out from a 4 mile swim!  Joseph and I did the 7 mile loop. I was surprised I could make it as I was really beat from all the hiking I did for work that day and the day before. But, as it was, I was able to run a 7 minute pace the entire way. I never did quite catch Joseph, who was probably about 6:45 or so per mile. When we finished, we were stretching and drinking some water as Ethan showed up. He had played in a softball game, then jogged to the South Farm from his house and was going to run on the gravel roads some. Joseph and I felt surprisingly good, so we grabbed Steve and we all ran another 3 plus miles. We went out and back, with the first half being slow, but we cruised in fast on the way back. The temperature had dropped quite a bit, so I felt like picking it up, and they all three did too! The last 3/4 mile or so we were flying! Or, at least it felt like it. Ethan had motivational music playing on his cell phone for us to run to; things like the Rocky theme song. Ethan and I used that music to try to catch Joseph on the last stretch, but we couldn’t do it! Punk. By the time all was said and done, Joseph and I had run at least 10.5 miles and Steve had run at least 8 (if not more).

Friday, Joseph ran 5.5 miles at an easy pace out here in Sessums, and later in the afternoon, he did his core workout. I lifted weights again at the gym. Got a great shoulder workout. Also, weighed myself and was back up 3 lbs from Monday, when I was about 165. The week before I had been about 175! With all this running and crazy hot weather, I had lost ten lbs in a week. Not a good thing to lose that much weight in a week, but it seems to be getting back to normal. On the other had, 165 is an easier weight to run at. Especially compared to the 200 lbs I weight 4 years ago.I have noticed that when I run at 7 pm in this hot weather, I am not very hungry at night. I tend to want to eat fruit and drink lots of liquids. So, I need to eat bigger lunches I guess!

Tomorrow morning, we plan on running with the Boardtown Running group again. They have a 14.7 mile route planned, although, we will probably only go about 10 or so, depending on how we feel. On Sunday, we are heading to Jackson, MS where Joseph will be running in the Watermelon Festival 5k at 7:30 on Monday morn. This is supposed to be a pretty big race with all sorts of age groups. I decided not to sign up myself, and will just watch.  The rest of the week, Joseph will be going to a church retreat in Orange Beach, AL, so they will not be here to run next week. I imagine he will get in a couple of runs while he is there, since he will not be able to stand it!  In fact, I will be out of town collecting for much of the week, so we will not be in town next week to run either. We will resume our running the next Sunday evening. Several of our high school kids will be out of town that week, as they will be attending a cool running camp at Virginia Tech. I am pretty sure Kamau, Walker, and Abigail are all going, along with several others than don’t usually run with us in the summer. Joseph’s church camp overlaps with their departure, so he will not get to go.

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