In ten strides, I am across the street. The wind picks up and changes direction like it always does. It is rare for a winter night, but it is in my face at this point (when it is normally at my back) trying to slap some sense into me, trying to convince me that running is too hard to do in cold weather. I don’t listen. As a matter of fact this is a part of the run that dictates the pace of the rest of the run.
This is the small incline, call it 100 feet long, from the other side of the street I live on to a spot 2 houses down. The incline isn’t much but it is not the incline that makes this a crucial spot for dictating my pace the rest of my run. It is because it is the first stretch of open road I run into, and if I can get my legs moving really quick here, and it’s foot turnover not stride length that matters, then I will keep that pace, more or less for the rest of the run.
So speed is crucial here for a fast run. And since I want to move with some speed today, I push fast here. Normally I run with what I think of as a pedaling motion, very round, knees, feet, ankles and hips all aligned. Here though I am willing to forsake form somewhat in pursuit of speed. Instead of landing with my toes pointing straight ahead, I land with toes pointed out slightly,like a hockey player trying to build speed. I try to keep my form as regular as normal for as much of my lower body as possible, but the hockey player speed up does splay my lower legs out of kilter just a bit.
The car that was making noise behind me disappears and turns the other way behind me, gone forever, or at least until my next night run. There are no cars around for this section of the run. It takes barely 50 steps, a little past the end of the small incline, to reach my first turn, the right onto governor.
It is a remarkably short incline and speed up, but it does it’s job. I’m now moving at what I tend to think of as regular speed. Roughly stated it’s about 8 miles per hour, or thereabouts, which is a pace I can run at for some length of time, but which is at the same time, a difficult pace to maintain. It isn’t top speed, I’ve got two full gears that I can hit above the speed I hit here, but it is fast, and those two other gears are VERY fast, so fast I can only maintain them for short distances, and I am looking for a maintainable medium to long distance speed, not speed that’ll make me feel like my lungs will fly out of my nose in 2 minutes.
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I cut the turn about as sharp as I can, with the outside of my right foot scraping the curb as I run by the corner. I am on the road to the park start point, at this point on a series of short streets that are a right, a left, another right, and a final left before I hit the uphill. I keep my feet moving fast, and see car headlights in the distance, at the end of the block. These look nothing like the ones from the last car. These are just headlights on a minivan. The minivan sees me, and moves towards the middle of the street as I run along the edge of the street.
As I pass them some 30 seconds later, I wave and thank them. After the van passes I move to the middle of the street, and get ready for the next turn. What was a strong breeze has died out, blocked by both houses and surrounding hills. The lighting is still no good, but my eyes are at this point, perhaps 90 seconds to 2 minutes in, accustomed to the half light. And what was a small incline and then a level run, is starting to become a short downhill.
And here I again start to try to push faster. Not that I’ve been slacking, I haven’t, far from it, but it is easiest to gain speed on the downhill, and I run as fast as I can here. There is almost no sound. No traffic, no people, just the wind and my breathing and the sound of my feet hitting the ground.
Often enough, I try to think of a song to run to (I never wear headphones) something that has a strong fast beat. Metallica’s “Jump in the Fire” or “Metal Militia” usually fit the bill for that, but some days other songs are just there and the rhythms fit my stride perfectly. This run I had Black Sabbath “Am I Going Insane” dancing through my skull.
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The downhill gets more pronounced as I run into the first major traffic of the run…
More tomorrow. (note: this and the prior days article have been put together with other work in a longer form piece on the “story of the month” page, which will be made into a single long article around February 1st.)
That’s it from here, America. I’m going to see how long I can keep the running thread going, how many words I can string together before the story runs out of steam, regardless of how good or bad it is. G’night.