Last night, I ran along the path at the sports complex where B has lacrosse practice. An out-and-back along the western path gets me almost a mile, and going east I can extend it further by running into the neighborhood. Two laps of that, and I’ve run 5.25 miles. My goal was to run the whole thing at half-marathon goal pace–I’ve had some trouble with consistency lately, particularly starting off too fast, so I wanted to work on that.
The path is concrete and mostly flat, with a couple of hills as it crosses a creek bed. Small children, bikes, dog-walkers, and errant soccer balls present occasional obstacles, and once I saw a snake and a turtle, but mostly it’s a peaceful, quiet route.
I didn’t encounter any wildlife at first. Just a cyclist and a couple of dog-walkers. But as I took the eastbound path across the creek bed and past the soccer field, I ran into swarms of gnats. Literally. My out-and-back route brought me through this section four times, and each time the gnat cloud seemed larger and more aggressive. The first time they were a nuisance. The second time one flew in my eye. The third time a squadron of them stuck to my shirt, which began to resemble a car windshield at the end of a road trip. My final trip through the Great Gnat Vortex left me with gnats up my nose, another in my eye, and I’m pretty sure I swallowed a couple.
Despite insect interference, I managed to run within 10-15 seconds on either side of my HMGP through all five miles. The last quarter-mile I picked it up, finishing at more of a 5K pace. Or at least the pace I’d like to run for Saturday’s 5K.
I’m hoping for a strong showing this weekend. I just hope the bugs stay home.