The Valley Coach group met this morning at 8 at the Cheseboro Park in Old Agoura, the site of my first trail run.

The first time I ran it this past November, my IT bands were bothering me around the 12th mile, I had succumbed to peer pressure by running more than I was assigned to, and I ultimately regretted it all day with soreness. In short, not a very fun run.
Not this time.
Decked out in my new Asics 2140GT trail runners and Amphipod running belt, I was ready to run. Perhaps part of the eagerness stemmed from the large contingent of Valley Coach athletes, LA Tri Clubbers and friends of the group who showed up. The energy level was high, as were the jokes and smiles. Even if it was chilly by my own weather-wuss standards, it was a great way to start the day.
The run itself was even more pleasant than expected. What I mean is that after last Sunday's depressing solo jog, I've concluded it's far more fun to chat with friends throughout the duration of the run. Keeps me from thinking about the run itself, or anything else remotely negative. Today, I got to know Lisa (now in her seventh triathlon season) and Paul (a former producer at Electronic Arts responsible for NBA Street, one of my favorite PlayStation 2 games).
Of course, it was still hard to watch most of the runners take off ahead of me from the start. Fortunately, Gerardo's brother Ray stayed with me and kept me company. I'm still confined to zones 1-2 on flat ground and zone 3 heart-rate on the hills, although I'm not sure it would have made much of a difference. Still, I know I'm hitting my goals from Coach Gerardo's workout plan. And I earned some validation from Christina, who said I should be stoked on my weekend performance considering I essentially cycled 60 miles and swam nearly two miles back-to-back, and followed that up today with what was probably at least a 13-mile run. She thinks I could be ready for an Ironman in four months if I wanted to, but that I'll be in spectacular shape by Ironman Arizona. Considering she's done two Ironmans, that praise was very flattering and encouraging.
As the run concluded, I realized that I hadn't bonked, my legs weren't tight or in pain, and that I was still hydrated (for the most part).
Progress! I felt much better than just a month or so ago doing the same run. What a feeling of accomplishment.
After the run, I had my bike tuned up at Bicycle John's in Agoura. If you are local and looking for a great cycling shop, Bicycle John's is my favorite. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly without being pushy. The shop has a nice frequent buyer's plan so you can earn discounts along the way, and the selection of parts, bikes and apparel is first-rate.
From there, I caught up with one of my closest friends, TJ, who was back in town from his Florida vacation. It was nice to reconnect again after two weeks.
Finally, the weekend wound down in what I think will become a new tradition: a "restorative yoga" session at Black Dog Yoga. If you haven't taken a restorative yoga class, especially on a Sunday night, it's the perfect way to segue from the weekend into the week ahead. Most of the poses are relaxing stretches held for long periods of time. The intensity is low, but the relaxation factor is very high, enhanced with aromatherapy oils by request.
The best part of the class is focusing on your inner intention for the moment, and if you'd like, the week ahead. I vowed to take it easy this week on myself in terms of letting go some of the angst from my last relationship, and to take it easy on others should I find my patience running low.
I will try to carry that intention out.
318 days and counting. Namaste.