On my list of fun and stupendous things to do in 2019 is to run or walk the 10 mile Crim race in Flint this coming August. I know it’s something I can walk, barring some sort of injury, but walking takes forever and I’m sure I’m going to want to run some of it.
So I’m trying to stick to a training schedule of sorts.
I’ve narrowed it down to one day a week of trying to run faster, (Don’t laugh) one day of running longer, and one day of just getting some miles in.
Today was my longer run day, and the plan was to do 8 miles at my local bike path through the woods park. Usually I kind of dread the ‘long run’ days, but this morning I woke up excited to see how it was going to go.
It’s done now and I thought maybe you’d wonder how it went, so I’ll tell you, mile by mile. Come on, let’s get started.
Mile one started out a bit slow. My excuse is that I was several yards away from the car when I realized I was still wearing my glasses. For a moment I thought about leaving them on, but sweat and running and glasses just doesn’t work for me, so I turned around and tossed them in the car. I’m sure that’s why that first mile went a little long even though it’s almost all downhill, and I usually use it as my shakedown run, checking to see what parts of my body are not into running and might give me a bit of grief. This time there was just a tiny, vague twinge in my right knee.
All systems go!
Just past the one mile marker I was startled as a grackel (bird) exploded out of a tree and across the path right in front of me. I had been looking for my (as I tend to call him) Mr. Bluebird who has regularly sat in that tree watching me go by. Last time I was out there Mrs. Bluebird sat there and observed my slow progress. I guess they’re both busy right now with babies.
And beyond the two mile marker I stopped quickly to examine the wet tracks of something that had crossed the path not long before my arrival. Maybe a dog, but more likely a coyote. Though I’ve seen them before and they never bother me, I picked up my pace, from a slow hobble to what I like to call hobble+.
Shortly after the three mile marker I ran into two chipmunks goofing off, chasing each other on the path. I decided to call them Chip and Dale. They were having a lot of fun until they noticed me. Then they stood up on their hind legs and watched me. I stopped to watch them. Then I moved closer to try for a picture and they streaked off making all sorts of chipmunk noises to warn the woods about the big noisy clomping person out on the path. Their warning was at least three times as big as their little bodies!
The beginning of mile four goes through some deep woods, one of my favorite parts of this path. Less wet than before, so fewer mosquitoes, but still pretty, and shady for those summer runs. By the end of the mile, though, the woods give way to open meadow with a bit of a breeze that I enjoyed. I had a hard time deciding what to wear this morning, and ended up with shorts and a long sleeve technical shirt. It was a damp 52 when I started my run. Turns out long sleeves were a mistake, I should have worn a tank top even though I feel fat in tank tops.
I was watching the sky as I ran through the meadow, making note of ominous clouds way off to the west. As I hit the four mile marker I felt the first drop of rain. Of course. I was the furthest from the car that I could be. Wouldn’t matter if I turned around and went back or kept going forward, the distance would be the same. I kept going and smiled at a woman on a bike going the other way. We both shrugged our shoulders as if to say….”What are you gonna do when it rains, right?” I figured if she hustled she could make it back to the car before the rain truly hit. Me? Well, I ratcheted it up to hobble++.
During mile five I concentrated on getting along faster. That one rain drop had been a warning, and I knew it could be a downpour at any moment. But I stopped to take a picture of a swath of yellow flowers down in a swampy area. I don’t know what the flowers are, but I was pleasantly surprised by two duck-like birds that rose up out of them when I took my shot. I don’t know what they were either. They were the size of ducks, but were both dark. I didn’t stay to try and figure it out. Time was ticking, the clouds were rolling, and the mosquitoes were swarming every time I stopped.
Mile six put me back at what I now affectionately call chipmunk junction. As I approached I saw several chipmunks running from one side of the path to the other, chasing each other and having a good time. They began to scatter as I got close, but I think there were at least six of them. Lots of warnings went up as I hobbled through, and I’m sure they were glad to see the backside of me.
With two miles left to go a few more raindrops cooled my face. Just a gentle rain, as if someone knew I was hot and tired. I slowed my hobble down and smiled. And then I heard the slow flapping of something big off to my left. Something with really big wings was taking off, though I couldn’t see it. I figured it was a hawk, or maybe a crane. But a few minutes later two beautiful blue herons flew right overhead, low and slow, they were just beautiful. I smiled wider. And then, for the rest of that mile I whistled “Moon River” from our concert last Tuesday night…and eventually that made me laugh…the incongruity of a hot, sweaty, slightly overweight, middle aged woman hobbling slowly through the woods whistling while smiling at the birds.
When I hit the 7 mile marker, with only one mile left to go, I stopped for a second and itched the mosquito bite behind my right knee. Then I took a big breath and contemplated the long hill before me, that last mile, mostly up, and started the slow process of getting back to my car.
And out of the woods came my Mr. Bluebird, just a quick flit out to the path, a bank of brilliant wings, and he was gone. But I smiled to see him and picked up my pace.
When I hit the steepest part of the hill I upped the game to hobble++, smiling all the way. At the top of the hill, with a quarter mile to go, two flickers flew ahead of me, the white triangles on their behinds showing me the way. I stomped in celebration on the 8 mile mark painted on the path and skipped the short bit back to the car as rain beginning to fall in earnest.
I beat the storm with my own two feet, no bike required. The lessons learned from this run? Well, definitely that two motivators are mosquitoes and impending weather. Summer is closing in fast, no doubt about it and I’m going to have to get faster…
…because I know from experience it’s hard to outrun a black fly.