Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My Run

Fair warning: Enormous post of dubious value. May cause drowsiness. Do not read and operate heavy machinery. Read at your own risk.

It's odd that after not running for only a little less than a week how much my body seemed to enjoy getting back into it. The thing is that I'm really lazy, and I do not like doing things, of which running is one. I had time to run this weekend and I didn't, and I can't really fathom why I didn't, especially with my newfound attempt to be healthy - well more healthy,

I got to the gym at a decent time (earlier than the hordes it seemed). I got a decent locker (note to guy on the other side of the bench: If you must sing, I think you need to go into a lower register. The falsetto ain't your bag, baby). There was even a treadmill available amongst a bevy of quite aesthetically pleasing joggers (and one walker. I hope she was doing a cool-down. I've seen folks walk for 10+ minutes on a treadmill. Um. We live in a gorgeous outdoor-friendly area. GO OUTSIDE).

I didn't take the treadmill though. Despite the come-hither glances of the angelic underdressed wonders (that was most likely my imagination), I strode off to do my outdoor trail run.

I usually have a bit of over-enthusiasm when I start a run. I'll end up running a bit faster than my pace will allow. Today, once I passed through the gaggle of gogglers (we can't be having campus tour this early, can we?), I hit a flat stretch and it was like my legs grew like the heart of the Grinch. I zoomed through the populated part of the run, dodging the dodgy and passing the pedestrian to come up on the best part of the run.

There's a trail that climbs and drops as in winds a loop around a pond surrounded by all manner of strange birds and stranger birders. Before I can get to the trail proper, I have to hit the stairs of doom. They're maybe twenty to twenty-five feet high and they always break up my stride.
It's a good place to catch my breath going down, but I can't help but remind myself that after the trail, I'm going to have to go back up the stairs to get back to the gym. It's with this thought in mind I hit the first part of the trail. It's a long slow curve and perfectly flat with only a couple
of puddles to navigate. I run. My legs like it. I run faster.

There's a lot of ego involved in this trail for me. I'm competitive enough that I feel the need to at least make a good show when I come up against another runner. Usually they're running the other direction, so I don't worry too much (will I meet them on the other side of the loop? I'd
better speed up so that I put more distance down than they do before we meet). When they are running the same direction as I am, I have to try to pass them - It must be my reptilian brain. I usually can't though because I take all the little side trails that no one else does. Today I passed
one woman twice. She probably thought I was a stalker.

About halfway through the loop, there's a huge dip. It's probably about as high as the stairs of doom and it goes down at a pretty good slope. It's another place to gauge the run. If I stretch my strides out, I can really get going and get about half-way up the incline on the other side before I know it. Other days, my breath isn't with me and I have to take it slow, but with the knowledge that the incline on the other side will tear me up if I don't have the momentum. Today that's where I passed the other runner the first time. Full stride. Wonderful.

I usually do two laps around the trail and then start back to the gym. The stairs are the gateway to the trail back. Today, they blur. Two at a time, I float up. Back to a flat run. Back to the crowds on campus. Back to the noises and the bikes. Back to the world. My feet are still feeling good, my legs, strong. My breathing has come back to me after the stairs tried to take it away, but I can't stretch out my stride because of the crowds.

Right before I get back to the gym, there's a straight path that is usually empty. It's my landing strip. The rule is that I have to sprint at the end of every run. Sprinting at the end is very telling. It's amazing how much energy you find at the end of a run. After nearly an
hour of panting, blinking the sweat out of your eyes, with the goal far off but visible at the horizon, if you push a little, you find you've got a lot more left. So I push hard. Usually, I've only got enough left to stretch out my stride as far as I can, and maybe put a little kick in. Today I
was able to really push. I flew down the path, pulling up only at the end of my runway, the courtyard of the gym. Who knew I still had that much left in me?

Writing this, I can feel the soreness creeping into the high backs of my thighs (from all the long striding, I'm guessing) and a possible mini-blister, but I feel so good right now. It's not just the run. I've felt good all day, but the run was exactly what I needed.

PS I like Performancing a lot, but sometimes the formatting goes wonky. Grrr...


jayfish said...

why can't my runs be that energetic?
...maybe i need better fuel?

sheepish said...

Hell, you probably burned half as many calories again just blogging all this!