The title of this post might be misleading for any number of reasons. Today’s run/walk was probably not the last long run I’ll ever do, and frankly there wasn’t all that much running involved.
But I have the much anticipated (at least by me) Crim race next Saturday, and today was my last long training run in preparation for actually accomplishing the ten hot and hilly miles next weekend.
It’s not as though I’ve been training methodically. Or even with a plan. I just tried to run longer once a week than I did the week before. And I tried to get out there one or two other times during the week to do 3 or 4 miles.
And even then it wasn’t really running like I remember from the days when I was young. It was shuffle along for a quarter mile, gasp for air and walk at least part if not all of the next quarter, then pick up the speed and shuffle along again.
And if there was a big uphill, then all bets are off and walking was totally acceptable. Unless I wanted to prove something to myself, in which case I sometimes shuffled to the top just to say I could.
But not generally.
This morning I did my last long run/walk at my favorite park. It’s where I used to run long every weekend, often meeting one or more of my running friends to talk and run together.
Along the familiar route today I’d remember things from previous runs. A running partner with a frozen water supply line here, a couple of dancing cranes there, the spot that Katie rested before we headed back to the car on one of our walks.
And sometime during mile 7 as I was slogging up a little hill to round the flagpole, ensuring my total would be ten miles because I added that ‘little’ out and back at Turtlehead, I remembered that once, many years ago while training alone I had come up this very hill and found a flock of cedar waxwings swarming a tree. I looked up at the tree again, now perhaps twenty years later, and imagined those birds, their little bodies fliting among the branches, the color on their tails. I remembered how I stood there a long time watching them way back then. And I noticed birds flitting among the same trees, though my eyesight is much worse now than it was then, so I thought today’s birds were sparrows.
Until I got closer and heard the little snuffling tweets they made as they flew back and forth.
Could it be? Not possible! But yes, up in the top of the trees was a flock of cedar waxwings, yellow band on their tails the tell-tale sign. I had to laugh out loud, though to be honest, crawling up a hill in mile 7 of a ten mile run is not generally a time I spend a lot of time laughing.
I guess sometimes you can conjure up memories and make them real if you give your mind free reign.
Anyway, I saw lots of things on this run, the pictures here are all taken with my phone, often while I was still moving. They aren’t great photogenically, but they tell you the story of a (very) long run during a grey, foggy morning, at my favorite park.
And I’m very very glad it’s done.