The lumbering hiker was squeezing under a fallen tree on the trail at Hampton Hills last night as I approached from the other direction. As soon as he saw my feet, he started acting like a bully.
Him: "Where the fuck are your shoes?"
Me: "Left them in the car."
Him: "Here, let me step on your feet so you don't make that mistake again."
Me: "Yeah, OK."
Then he told me to find the fucking park ranger and tell him to grab a fucking chainsaw and clear the fucking tree from the path. Had it not been for that fucking tree, I could have just blown past him and ignored his jackass comments. "By the way, it's clear the rest of the way," he said as I climbed through the fallen foliage and left him to swear at his silent wife and dog.
I was more concerned with the sharp pebbles on this part of the trail, trying to avoid stepping on the ground so it wouldn't hurt. The hills (and perhaps my five-miler yesterday morning) had tired my legs, making it difficult to maintain a high foot turnover rate. I longed for the smooth, soft soil awaiting my feet at the end of the run.
I finished the circuit three minutes faster than I ever have barefoot or in my Hippie Shoes (aka huaraches), and I was 30 seconds faster than I was in shoes this year--and possibly ever. When I emerged from the woods, I saw the profane hiker sitting on a picnic table with his wife and dog. I walked confidently across the gravel parking lot to my car. He kept his fucking mouth shut.
Wherein we set the bar only as high as it needs to be to beat our previous best.
Our Comrade BrianFlash thinks my marathon race pace goal shouldn't be too fast or too slow, but just right: "I like the Surgei Bubka approach to setting PRs--beat each one by a whisker so you can set another during the next race.
"I say--go 3:59:59!"
Answer: It seems I've inadvertently already applied Bubka's strategy in my last 5-K. Perhaps I'll run as hard as I can at the marathon and then wait in front of the finish line if I'm early. That way I know how fast I could have been, but still save a PR for next time.
Happy Hour is almost upon us, teammates! Have a finely brewed weekend. Run well and drink well. Cheers!