Thursday, September 19

Run Forrest, Run!

Long time readers of the blog (hey babe!) will remember that I was once a high school cross country star.  Well, maybe not a star per se, but I did come in first in one JV meet, placed sixth overall in a very difficult hilly race, and I got my varsity letter during my freshman (and only) CC running season.
My fastest times were 19:49 for the 5k and 5:55 for the mile.  These days I average about a ten to ten and a half minute mile for 5k+ and around 9:30 for a 5k.  I’m pretty happy with these times, and am even happier that the more I run the faster I get.  Maybe someday I can even get down to my high school speeds.  Maybe…
Since high school I’ve ran in two or three organized 5k events.  Over the years I’ve been a fitness runner with little success in consistency or performance.  I’ve always taken up running to try and shave off some pounds or to kick up my cardio, but never because I wanted to be a runner.
When I signed Mandy and myself up for the Iron Horse Half Marathon I didn’t think I’d really enjoy running longer distances again.  I kinda thought I’d tough it out, do the race, and then go back to being a cyclist.  I was wrong.
I sort of have this mini-obsession with running now.  I’m running on the road and liking it for the first time.  Used to I dealt with a lot of pain when I ran on hard surfaces.  But this go ‘round I’ve been doing rather well.  Mandy and I both hit a wall recently when we’d made the jump from 6 or so miles into the 10 mile neighborhood.  We were both just dog tired and having knee pain.  
We layed out of our training schedule to do the OKHT, but now I think I’m finally back on track.  I skipped this past Monday too because I’d ran and biked through my rest days at the end of the previous week.  Mentally I was ready to run again, but I dreaded the dawn patrol.
Being the antisocial punk that I am I really don’t enjoy running in the evenings.  I want to ride on the road, but I’m aware that there are a lot of tired, distracted, and potentially cranky motorists ripping along the roads I run on at the end of the day.  I’m a morning exerciser anyway.  If I plan to run in the morning I’ll do it.  If I wait until the end of the day I’ll have a gazillion reasons not to.
That was a blathering way to say I’ve been running with a headlamp before work.  I don’t really enjoy running in the dark all the time.  I think the novelty would be exciting if I used the tactic sparingly.  But as we sinker deeper into the daylight savings muck the reality and necessity of using a headlamp begins to wear on me.
One morning this past week I found myself very heartened to be out running in the pre-dawn darkness.  See, it’s not even dawn when I run.  The sun didn’t poke over the horizon until I was showered, dressed, and getting gas in my car on my way to work.  Anyway, I was on my last mile of a six mile run when over a low hill I saw a weak bluish light bobbing in the darkness.  It was another headlamp…on another runner.
A friend mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago that they’d seen someone crossing the Hatton Creek bridge with a headlamp one morning from the Mountain Parkway.  He knew I was in Luau-ville for a conference, but he wasn’t entirely sure it wasn’t me.  I assured him I had not been running that particular day (the Monday after OKHT) but was intrigued.
Here was the phantom runner coming right at me in the darkness.  I was a little freaked out.  While there is a growing population of runners in our town it just doesn’t seem like the kind of place that would be a good petri dish for a double dose of crazy like I exhibit.  And yet the evidence that someone else would conceive of running with a headlamp on my road came bobbing through the dark morning toward me.
As we passed I called out: “Good mornin’!” but was met with silence.  Headphones?  More freaked out that me?  Alien invader?
I’m not sure which of the three I think is most plausible. Regardless, I now know I have to step up my crazy.  It’s a good thing the cargo bike is rolling again.  I think I’m going to need to break out the big guns of pretentiousness.
Speaking of…the day before my early morning running encounter Mandy rode the Ute to town and all over the place.  She went through the drive-thru window to pay the electric and caused a stir.  Then she went to the courthouse, the post office, the insurance office, and finally the grocery store.  At the grocery she picked up a 10 lb bag of potatoes, 5 lbs of apples, a gallon of milk, a half gallon of OJ and even more groceries beyond that.  Then she turned Kona Lisa toward home.
As she labored on toward the cruelty of Steamshovel Hill a van got behind her and she heard someone call through the open window: “Run Forrest, run!”
It’s hard to say if the person that made the comment understood the irony of saying that to a cyclist.  It’s entirely possible that they did not.  It’s also possible that they went on to say many more equally non-sequitur things through the rest of the day and perhaps are continuing to say similar things in their daily life as we speak.  Perhaps they should take up cyclo-blogging.
Mandy shook her head in amazement and continued toward and ultimately over Steamshovel Hill which is no mean feat with a half a ton of groceries in tow.
Back to me—which is what this blog is really all about—all of this running I’ve been doing has made me realize I truly do love running.  I’m looking forward to the Iron Horse.  In the shorter term even I’m looking forward to the upcoming Sheltowee Challenge  and am even trying to screw up the courage to just go for the 50k instead of wussing and just doing the half marathon version.  I’ve not been training for that distance, but it’s all good, right?
I know I can do it.  But I don’t want to jeopardize my efforts toward the Iron Horse.  I’ve got to come up with a bombproof strategy to pull this off without killing myself.  And fast!

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