TITLE: A Great Day for a Run AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 24, 2005 3:54 PM DESC: Just running through an Iowa winter can be challenge enough. But I ran, enjoyed, and got faster, too. ----- BODY: I've been negligent in posting the next installment of my Running on the Road series, to detail my experiences and recommendations for running in Tucson and Carefree, Arizona. That won't likely come for a couple of weeks, until my semester has ended. By then, I hope to have an entry on running in San Diego, too. But I can report a great spring running here at home. In January, I reported my plan for the winter: get faster. I kept up weekly track work-outs through February, when conference trips interrupted. When I returned home and got back into my routine, gorgeous spring weather and rising temperatures made outdoor running so attractive that I hit the trails inside of the track, though I still pushed myself hard a couple of days a week. The last two weeks have seen a culmination of the winter running. Two weeks ago, I ran three times that were either personal bests or personal #2s on their respective routes. I ended the week with a hilly and credible 14-miler. This week, I recovered from all that exertion with easy runs until Friday, when I got back on the track for the first time in a couple of months. The results pleased me: I guess I have to rate my winter "maintenance mileage" a success. I enjoyed my runs and got a little faster in the process. Now comes a season in which I can enjoy the outdoors even more, boost my mileage, and start thinking about running 8-minute miles or better for 15, 18, 20, ..., 26.2 miles. The race goal: run the Twin Cities Marathon on October 2. The pace goal: 3:30. That's aggressive, given that I ran 3:45 in my second marathon last October. But an aggressive goal supported by good preparation and tempered by a healthy dose of realism is okay. Let's just see how I feel in September. -----