Fall in Western Pennsylvania. It brings to mind images like this:
Sure, pictures of fall foliage are pretty to look at, but, let’s face it, Western Pennsylvania weather doesn’t usually permit much time to enjoy the view.
Instead, we’re usually treated to sites like these every fall:
Training for late-season races, like the EQT Pittsburgh 10-miler, require logging miles in mucky, yucky, wet and windy conditions,which hit the region last week. Naturally, the bad weather coincided with the toughest week of training. Those following Fleet Feet Sports’ Train to Run program – like myself – faced a trio of 6-mile runs to go with a 9-mile jaunt. It created some interesting conditions in what had been an unusually warm and gentle weather cycle.
9/28 – A day after trekking up the sizable hill to my house, I opted for a course with a couple climbs, a mile or so on the Five Star Trail and finished 6.14 miles in 52:05.
9/30 – Made a left turn in a place I usually take a right and ended up running through Southwest Greensburg a bit. Ended up strolling along College Avenue,. eventually rolling though Academy Hill and St. Clair Park before heading home. The wind was strong and in my face for a long stretch of the run. It reminded me of running along Swan Beach at the Outer Banks during nor’easters. Not fun, but it makes a runner stronger. Did 6.06 miles in 51:45.
10/2 – The cooler temperatures were nice, but the wind wasn’t highly appreciated. So, on Friday, I sought a flatter run. I went through South Greensburg, went through Midway and caught Five Star Trail for a few miles before making a left at Sunset Cafe (great place to eat – the calamari is terrific) and returning home. Covered 6.56 miles in 55:02. Easily the best run of the week.
10/4 – The big day arrived. The longest run of the 10-week training program. After getting decent sleep, two mugs of coffee and some water, I went the same way as Friday’s run with a couple small variations to add distance. After taking Five Star Trail for about 3.5 miles, I hit Lynch Field. Now, during longer runs, I’ve noticed my brain stops complex functions. At some point, determination and stubborness takes over, and it usually comes between miles 5 and 6. Keep in mind, this doesn’t happen for a 6-mile run, only when the run is 7 miles or longer. Not sure why. Anyway, the brain shut off before descending into Lynch Field, which is why – at Mile 8 – I opted to turn into Academy Hill. For the next sixth-tenths of a mile, I was running uphill. My pace slowed, my breathing intensified, but I made it. And I kept going. I covered 10.12 miles in 1:26.40. It took 9:35 to cover my ninth mile and 9:07 to cover the 10th.Other than that, my pace was great and, most importantly, my confidence for Oct. 25 is sky-high.