The sunday night run was excellent. Planned on doing something through the MSU campus and beyond, but a couple of folks that run with us wanted the softer gravel/dirt roads of the south farm, so we ran out there. Although earlier in the day it looked like a good chance of rain for this evening, we instead had great weather! Not too hot, only about 90°F and even an occasional breeze. Somewhat humid, but not quite as bad as usual. Another good group tonight to join Joseph and I. We had Super Steve Shaffer, the laid back Brent Wallace, curious Jorge Villarreal, pretty boy Kamau Bostic, the ineffable Ian Prester, Raheem Bostic (a newbie), and Philip Young (2nd timer). The run went well. Got in 7 miles at 48 minutes. Pretty steady today. I ran the first 2.5 with Kamau and Brent going at a 6:45 pace (more or less), then Kamau turned back as he was only doing 5 today. Continued on with Brent for another mile, with Joseph having done the first 3.5 miles in 21:30. Brent took the short way back for 5.5 miles, and I followed Joseph for the 7 mile route. Jorge and Ian went 5.5 miles, and Steve and Phillip went either 6 or 7 miles. Raheem said he got in about 3 miles, which for a non runner, was not bad. When we got done, we all did a couple of sets of pushups as well!
Monday, Joseph and I headed back to the South Farm for a hill workout. After a warmup jog and some very light stretching, we found a nice gravel hill to run up. Not the steepest one on the farm, but we thought it would be a good one to start with. The plan was to do 8 X 1 minute and 6 X 30 seconds runs up the hill, with slow jogs back down. Of course, the road being gravel compounded the difficulty of the workout. But, gravel is good in a way, because it forces you to run upright and keep your legs beneath you rather than behind you. If you lean over too much, your legs end up behind you too far, and you will find that your feet slip on the gravel. Feels like you are spinning out on a bike or something. I thought the workout went great for the first day. Don’t know how fast we were going, but I do know that my 1 minute runs did not end as far up the hill as Joseph’s! The 30 seconds runs were very good. We were concentrating on good upright form, shorter and faster strides, and trying to touch the ground as lightly and quickly as possible. After the hills, we got a cool down jog in and stretched. We plan on doing some version of this workout twice a week for about 4 weeks. Build those legs up!
Tuesday morn, Joseph got a recovery run in on our trail, then did his core workout with lots of ab exercies, pullups, pushups, dips, shoulder flys, bicep curls, etc. and some plyometric skips and bounds. He is starting to look like a serious runner here lately. I did a similar workout in the afternoon. Of course, being Tuesday, we headed to the South Farm parking lot for another nice group run at 7 pm. Another crazy cool bunch of psycho runner jokers joined us including Kamau, Damian Grady, Jorge, Steve, Cleat, Chap, Jessica Comer, Raheem, and Brent. As we were getting ready to run, the Starkville Academy XC boys and their coach Nancy Christiansen were gearing up for their first practice of the year! Awesome. Some of the kids who were 7th or 8th graders on the team when I was coaching there 3 or 4 years ago were out there, and, somehow, they were taller and more cross country-like than I remembered them. Looking like seasoned runners now! Anyway, they headed out to the South Farm, as did Steve, Cleat, and Chap. The rest of us ran together across campus, through the research park, through the north farm, down some railroad tracks, and then returned. We ran about 8 miles, which was about what we had planned. Jessica was supposed to do 6 today, so she turned around at three, and Raheem turned around earlier. It was a fantastic run for sure. Hot, humid, and a nice group of punks to run with. What more can you ask for? After the run, folks stretched and cooled down for quite a while. Seemed like nobody felt like leaving, but eventually, we left…another good run in the books.
Joseph and I went back to the South Farm Wednesday at 7 pm for some more hill repeats. Hot. Humid. Typical. Started out with a warm up jog. Whew, legs were a bit sore from the hills on Monday! But, not too bad. We got to our gravelly, tortuous hill and did 8 X 30 seconds and 6 X 1 minute runs up the hill, with jogs back. Man o’ man!! Hard today. I did not think I could finish. But, somehow I made it! Ran ok today, kept up with Joseph on the first few, but started falling behind near the last couple of 30 second repeats. It is amazing how you can run up the hill, think you are totally worn out, then by the time you jog back down you can do another one. We got through with that, and did a mile cool down, stretched, drank a bunch of water, and headed home.
Thursday, Joseph and I had a great core type workout at the house. He also added some plyo skips and a couple of other things. We both felt good after this one. Actually felt almost in shape today! Cleat, Brent, James Wright, Kamau, Raheem, Steve, Cleat, Abigail and Shuanika all joined us at 7 pm. Cleat was the only one to run the South Farm. I think this was his last run of the week before the Heart of Dixie Triathlon on Saturday, which he was going to do a leg of as part of a relay team. The rest of us headed toward campus, and various places from there. We lost Joseph by about 1.5 miles, with Kamau and I running together and Brent and James running together. Kamau and I felt pretty good, so we added a mile near the middle portion of the run and ended up with about 6.5 for the day. Brent and James went about 5.5, and Joseph apparently did the same route, but came back and ran some more at the end. Steve said he and girls wrapped up around 4 miles, before Abigail and Shaunika biked home. Raheem, the novice of the group ran for over an hour. Not sure where he went, he started out with us, but showed up as I was leaving! He may have gotten lost, but no harm, he made it back in one piece and looked happy as a clam.
Nothing much going on for Friday, although Joseph did get in an easy recovery jog in the morn. But, we got a nice run in Saturday morn with the Boardtown group. I was planning on only doing 10-12, but both Joseph and I ended up doing a 14.7 mile route. It was pretty warm and humid, but there was a slight breeze and more shade than usual along the route today, so it was not too bad. Plus, we did not push it at all. Well, Joseph ran the first 3.6 miles fast (to the first water stop), but ran the rest with me at about 7:10 per mile. Lots of our Starkville Striders were there including Ian, Brent, Jorge, Jessica, and Kamau, who all ran 7 miles, and a bunch of the Starkville XC girls, many of whom also run some with us in the off season including Kate Mattox, Walker Mattox, Abigail Musser, Shaunika Musser, Carys Snyder, Anna Jackson, and a new girl who I don’t know. Almost as soon as we finished, we headed to the South Farm parking lot to meet and carpool to Tishomingo State Park in northeast Mississippi. For those of you who are unaware of this park, it is the coolest state park in our state in my opinion. Rocky ledges and boulders, a rocky creek for swimming and paddling in, and a swinging bridge are some of the highlights of this park. We took two cars with Joseph, Audrey, Jorge, Ian, Jessica, Brent, and Drew Zeidwig going along for the adventure.
We arrived about 12:30 and ate some lunch (tuna, oranges, chips, gatorade, power bars, etc.), threw the frisbee around some, which Ian thoughtfully brought along, then trekked across the swinging bridge toward some trails.
The bridge crossed Bear Creek, which was relatively low, but still inviting looking. We goofed around along the trail for probably an hour and a half before taking a break of about the same time in the creek. We were not the only ones, as many other folks were also chilling out there.
The rocks wall along the upper trail are amazing, at least for Mississippi, and this is basically the only part of the state with these formations. Several members of the group climbed up parts of the easier rock faces.
At one point, we came across a nice waterfall, albeit, a waterfall with very little flow, and we cooled off there a while. It was much like a natural shower and felt great with the high temps!
The creek was very nice after working up quite a sweat hiking along the trail. The hike was easy enough, but it was fairly warm. The favored activity in the creek seemed to be skipping stones. By the time we left Jessica had become a seasoned stone skipping veteran under Brent’s firm, but patient tutelage. But, Jorge and his unorthodox Colombian throwing motion was the one with the most skips in row. While in the creek we saw a very large Dolomedes fishing spider perched on the side of a rock as it waited for dinner.
Topped off the day by stopping in Tupelo for some food at the Atlanta Bread Company (used to be Paneras). Not bad. Then, dessert at Baskin Robbins! Got back to town about 8:30 after quite a nice day!
Sunday, we got a decent upper body workout in just before lunch. Lunch was freaking awesome too! I grilled some salmon with olive oil, lime juice and fresh basil; grilled shrimp with onions, red and yellow bell peppers, onion, and cajun spice in a skillet on the burner of the grill; had some that crazy cool purple-black rice; fresh tomotoes; sliced avocado; and focaccia bread with spinach and feta cheese!! Awesome!!@!@
Heading out for a run at 7 pm again. Will meet at the South Farm as usual…