Before hurting myself I would occasionally run 12-15 mile road runs that would just end up being between 7-7:15 pace. Coming back now I've logged multiple runs of 18-23 miles where I have felt comfortable around 6:30-6:40. I've even done some workouts with mile repeats at 5:35 pace, which, if you had told me I was capable of doing last year I would have laughed at you.
This increased road speed has certainly transferred to my trail running as well. In the last month I have set new personal bests on my 10 mile trail loop near my home and on the Potowatomi, an old nemesis. I must say there are few things more encouraging and energizing than seeing and feeling yourself improve. There was a time this most recent winter where I knew I wasn't improving any longer, but continued to run, for numerous, illogical reasons. But, then I was forced into hibernation by petallar tendon inflammation, and now I believe it was actually beneficial.
When I think about longevity and excellence in the ultrarunning scene, my mind immediately is drawn to the accomplishments of Scott Jurek. He is arguably the most decorated and versatile ultrarunner of all time who has always stressed the importance of taking some down time every year to recharge the batteries. I believe this allowed Scott to race a long and productive season at the utmost level for many years. I hope I have the discipline to take a little downtime next year without being injured.
So now I have to put together a racing season, I guess. I'm so thrilled to be improving and running big fast miles that I don't particularly want to deal with the race/recover cycle. I suspect this will change with the warmer weather moving in (speaking of warm, I'd really like another Kettle Moraine shirt...). I also have a few personal projects that I am looking to accomplish.