29:18.13

Pic of the day:  1896 Olympic Marathon

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It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.

George Sheehan

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Saturday:  3/4 of a mile into a training run I aggravated a pulled hamstring.  The run was going to be 5.7 miles long.  Stopping short with a sharp stabbing pain in my right hammy was about the last thing I wanted to have happen.  I was training for a race that I had missed last year.  The 4 mile memorial day race.  And I missed it because of a strained hamstring, and I was DAMNED if I was going to miss 2 years in a row because of the same injury.

I shut it down.  I walked home, hobbled somewhat by the hamstring.  I couldn’t walk right but I didn’t mind that.  It’s an injury, and I mind the injury, not how I walk because of it.  Came home, stretched it as much as I safely could. I soaked it in warm water and epsom salts twice.  I felt better after that.  Not 100% obviously.  I had to take pain killers and I iced it and wrapped it.  Comes with the territory, I guess.  I am thinking that I will cross the finish line, if I do, walking.  I am not happy about it.

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Sunday:  Hung out, cooked food at a family barbecue at mom’s house, and frankly enjoyed the hell out of things.  I paid the hammy no never mind and I didn’t have to, I didn’t notice it.  I was initially going to run before the days festivities, but on Saturday when I shut the run down I told myself that my next run is the race on Monday. I am still thinking that I might end up having to walk to the finish line if I finish.  I tell several people that, and they tell me I’ll be fine.  I agree with them publicly.  Privately, I’m not so sure.  But I do tell myself that I should try for a 32:00 time, an 8 minute mile.  That would be good.

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Monday, pre-race: Wake up at 5:48 am after going to bed at 10:30 pm, and finally falling asleep an hour 15 or so later.  I know that the hamstring is still not 100%, but I feel pretty damn good.  No limp, no soreness, no nothing.  Drink coffee, feed cats, do all the things that I do normally when I first get myself out of bed and ready to face the day.  I pack up stuff for the race.  Towel (You should always know where your towel is) extra clothes, water, race number.  Drink water.  Get out of the house…

My mother wanted to see what was happening, she had never been out to a race before.  When speaking yesterday she simply said she was driving my wife and I to the race.  My wife was surprised.  I… not so much. So my wife and I get a ride and mom gets to see me race for the first time.  It’s a bit surreal for me, but with me, surreal happens.

I walk with my wife and mother to where they are going to watch the race near the finish line.  Drink a little water.  Mom wishes me luck, kisses my cheek, and me and my wife walk down to race start, leaving mom hanging out on the boardwalk.  My wife and I while walking smile at each other and wave to a few runners, wish them luck.  I don’t know them, they don’t know me. Doesn’t matter.  We’re all part of the running family, everyone is good people here. Last drink of water. My wife takes a few pictures of me.  She kisses me, wishes me luck, steps back behind the guard rail and the race begins.

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Monday, Race: ON YOUR MARK

GET SET

GO.

I walk the first 20 seconds or so.  I find it curious that some of the people ahead of me, while barely moving at a walking pace are nevertheless moving like they are running, bouncing up and down in an exaggerated running motion.  They aren’t moving faster as a result.  Makes no sense to me.  I keep to just walking until the road opens up and I can run.  From the beginning I am, if not hesitant, then at least, relaxed in pacing myself.

The crowd ahead of me is smaller than normal, but then again I am starting further up than the last few times I ran this race.  I am not moving with a particularly fast gait, nor am I pushing that hard.  I pass a number of people in the throng, a few pass me, and as the crowd begins to thin, it happens.  Two minutes and 24 seconds in.  I feel the right hamstring twinge.  Feel the stabbing pain.  I bark with displeasure, but I bite down on the pain and keep moving.

And I surprise myself by not breaking stride.  I keep it to where I am barely letting it affect my gait. What it does is slow me down, but not even all that much.  There are other people around, and I’ll be damned if I give up this early in the race.  Hell, it hit and during the critical first moments when the pain hit me, I was passing people.

I was pretty happy about that.

Usually I have some kind of pace song in my head that pushes me faster, keeps the feet moving quick.  Not this time. I am basically monitoring the hamstring in my head the entire time.  But I am also keeping an eye out to see what my pace is early.  Curious.  No mile one marker.  No one barking out times.  Weird. So I keep moving.

And I keep passing people.  Not like I did 2 years ago when I ran a 6:57, but I’m passing people with a pulled hammy.  I have just passed the water station without getting water when I notice the pain getting worse.  I adjust my stride, lean back a little more and the pain subsides somewhat.  What I don’t do is slow down.  I know I’m not running my fastest, but I don’t want to slow down too much and be tempted to stop.  I’m not sure I’d be able to start back up once I did that.  So I keep moving.

The sun hits hard after the shade near the end of the second mile.  Up ahead I see the mile 2 marker.  There’s a guy calling out time.  “14:40.  14:42.  14:45.  14:50.”  As I pass I hear “14:55.”  I thank him, wave and keep moving.  The pain is constant, but it’s been there long enough that I begin to ignore it, move past it.

I begin to think of moving faster.  And as I think it I do it.  My stride rate picks up, and I pass a few people.  Not many, there are some people out and about, and while I am trying to move fast, I can’t get that breakaway speed that I could if I wasn’t sore as hell.  I pass the second water station, and again refuse the water.

At the 2½ mile mark or so, there is a fountain that spits water a good 20 feet high and they have it on full steam so that the runners can run under it and cool down.  I do.  The shock of cold water is invigorating, and I gasp as the water hits me.  There is a guy who I have been running with for the past few minutes, and it is here that I find the energy to begin to pass him.  But as I open up my stride the hammy begins to hurt more.  So I slow down a bit after about a minute, and the guy passes me.

I hit the 3 mile marker after a few minutes.  “22:09.  22:10.  22:12.”  “22:15.” is what I hear as I pass the guy.  I wave and thank him and he yells back “Good luck.”  The final mile I try my damnedest to open up my stride, but I am having only limited success. For every person I pass, for everything that feels good there is pain as well, and a need to back down, to slow down.  The hamstring which has been sore but just background noise in my mind for much of the race, really begins to hurt.

I’m starting to limp while I run, but I keep moving.  I do my best to hide it, and glide as much as possible, keep the pounding on my legs to an absolute minimum.  But I am in a better place than I thought I’d be.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish without walking.  But I’m running. and faster than I thought I would be able to.

After a short bout with a stitch, I get passed by some kid whose mom, jumps out from the crowd to shout encouragement.  He sees his mom and speeds up.  He passes her up, and as I pass her I yell out “Kid is the fastest runner out here.”  She beams at this.  Hell at that point in the race he may well be.  All the faster runners have already finished, and he passed me like I was standing still.

I felt good for the kid.  Two more people passed me as I made my way to the finish.  First one I didn’t mind.  The second one I did.  No reason why.  But it pissed me off, and I found a surge of energy, and nearly caught up to the guy before the finish.  Nearly, but didn’t.  Cursed the leg. But I crossed the finish line with a better time than I thought I was capable of just a day before.

29:18.13.  A 7:19.53 m/m pace.

Not my fastest time, not by a long shot.  But my best.

Upon stopping I immediately begin to limp rather badly.  As I hear the race officials tell me I don’t need to hand in the bottom portion of my race number, I see my wife.  She is beaming, happy.  I said “29:18.  Helluva race, hon.”

Helluva race.

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That’s it from here, America.  Enjoy the day, and If you see any veterans today, thank’em for all they’ve done.  God bless America.

 

Morning Story

Pic of the day:  Still life with Cups and two Poems, by Katsushika Hokusai

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Do not think dishonestly.
The Way is in training.
Become acquainted with every art.
Know the Ways of all professions.
Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
Develop intuitive judgment and understanding for everything.
Perceive those things which cannot be seen.
Pay attention even to trifles.
Do nothing which is of no use.

Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

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Life is made up of small things…

It’s nearly noon as I begin writing this.  I went to sleep normal time last night, around 1 am and set my alarm for 8:10.  I wanted to wake up early and get a run in before I got to the work of the day.  Only a little real work mind you, most of the days duty is to be spent in traveling back and forth, and getting a few trifles done.  The real work was moving a few hundred pounds of metal.  Nothing major.   So, shuffle around make coffee, feed cats.  The usual morning routine.

Look out the open window in my kitchen at 8:40.  I said “Cloudy again, smells like rain,”  while waiting for the coffee to finish percolating.  The cats pay the statement no mind, being cats, interested only in food and relaxation.  When the coffee finished, I grabbed two cakes to eat with my coffee, and sat down at the computer.  Wrote my boss an e-mail, asking if there was any work for next week.  Not expecting any, but hoping for it.  He gets back to me after a few minutes, and says no work, enjoy the holiday.  I tell him I figured as much and told him to have a good holiday as well.

I peruse a few headlines prior to getting ready for the run.  Nothing major. Etan Patz.  Mitt Romney.  SpaceX.  Nothing major though, so I don’t open any stories, just drink coffee and eat my cakes.  Make moves on my fantasy baseball team.  Get dressed for the run.  Blue shorts, red tank top, white socks, black trail shoes, SI Yankee tan and blue baseball cap.  I grab my keys and I go.

Walk a number of blocks to where I start the run, with 3 block detour away from the start point to see if my path is blocked.  It isn’t. Jog to the start point.  No soreness, feel good.  It’s 60+ degrees, and I can see my breath.  Weird.  I start the run, it goes well enough for about a mile and 3/4.

Nearing the mile 2 marker I begin to notice soreness in my right hamstring.  It is minor, but I pay attention to it.  It gets worse as the run goes on, so i slow the run down.  After a while it simply gets to be too much and as a consequence I cut the run 2 miles short for the second day in a row due to soreness.  With a race coming up on Monday morning too.  Nice.

The second I stop it seems fine, and I can walk on it OK, but I can’t run on the thing.  Not surprised, annoyed.  I walk home easily enough.

When I walk in the door i see there is a message on my phone.  Check the message and the work moving the metal has been moved back to Tuesday.  Not an issue, the work will get done when the work gets done, and if the person I’m doing it for doesn’t need it now, no worries.

So I stretch.  The leg feels better after the stretches.  Clean myself up and grab a second cup of coffee.  I find some cookies and eat them.  Life is good.  The hamstring gets sore again after a few minutes, but that is not an issue.  Painkillers and stretching should do the trick.  Get to it later.  No worries.

My wife, who has been awake for a bit doing stuff in the bedroom comes out looking for a wire.  A single USB cable for a platform thing that she puts under her laptop to cool the thing down.  Can’t find the damn thing.  So a search begins.

We end up going through every single drawer in the house.  First the junk drawers.  Nothing.  Search a few other drawers in the kitchen.  Nada.  Search a few drawers in the living room.  Zero, though I do find a few old CD’s I hadn’t seen in a dogs age.   First closet in the hall which has a bag that my wife brings with her whenever she travels.  She thinks it might be in there. After a few minutes of digging, she finds… Zilch. We get to the second closet. We both know there is a bag with cords in it there.

Remember that just as we get to it.  Dammit.  Getting old sucks sometimes.

Fight through about 15 bags of crap.  From candles and potpourri to Christmas stuff, the closet is loaded with crap.  After digging out almost everything I find the bag.  I remembered it being a small bag.  This thing was a garbage bag within it were 2 smaller bags of wires and cords and cables in it, but the main bag had crap in it as well.  My wife and I start going through the bag.  It takes about 20 minutes and untangling perhaps 30 or 40 cables before she finds it.

She has the cable.  She’s happy because she has her cord.  I’m happy because I am done kneeling down digging in the damn closet.

Joy.

🙂

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That’s it from here, America.  G’afternoon.  Catch ya later.

April 2012 Running Commentary

Once a month I clear out the content on my Running Commentary page and place it here on the main page to make room for fresh content on that page. This is the April 2012 Running Commentary. Enjoy!

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This month: 241.32 miles. Longest run: 15.2 miles (April 1st) Shortest run: 4.42 miles (April 27th) 29 runs in 30 days during the month. Average run distance for the month: 8.321 miles

2012 Mileage total: 801.16 miles Longest run of the year: 15.2 miles (March 11th, April 1st) Shortest run of the year: 3.8 miles (February 6th). 101 runs on the year. Average run distance: 7.932 miles

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This was one of my better run months. Ever. I was pushing distance a fair bit, especially at the end of the month, when I was pushing hard to get to 800 miles for the year before May 1st. Something that I did, just barely but I did it, and I’m really pleased with that. While the distance, both for the month and the year were accomplishments I am most proud of something else.

Speed. I had speed to burn at the end of the month. I got faster around the 18th of the month. What I did was really simple, I picked up my stride rate, made a conscious effort to get my feet moving faster and keep them faster throughout my runs. The point was to run over 200 steps per minute average, where before that stride rate might have been my high point speed wise. It felt really good to run 13 miles and hit a 7:05 pace over the last 2 miles, where before I never managed to get quite that fast.

I don’t know that I’ll be hitting quite this distance for the month, as I am expecting that I’ll have a few more days off in May than I did in April, but 200 miles should definitely be doable. And I am hoping to keep the speed up as much as possible. And I am going to sign up for the Memorial day 4 mile run again here on Staten Island. A race I always look forward to, and it’s no different this year.

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Sun., April 1st: Ran 15.2 in 1:57:11.12, a 7:42.57 m/m pace. 50 degrees, cloudy, breezy. Eight laps in the park today. Hamstrings barked at me as usual on the last few laps of the run on the tiny uphill behind the skating rink. Beyond that, not much in the way of an issue with soreness today, at least not while running anyway. Really enjoyed going long today. 200 knuckle push-ups. Could’ve done more had I started earlier.

Mon., April 2nd: Ran 5.82 miles in 44:39.84, a 7:40.45 m/m pace. 50 degrees, clear, windy. Pushed pretty hard out there today, this was about as much as I had left after work today. My feet were killing me before I got my running shoes on, they felt better the moment I put’em on though. Nice. First half was a bit slow, picked it up and had a decent negative split, ran the second ½ 42 seconds faster than the first. 175 knuckle push-ups. It’s as much as I could do in the 15 minutes I had.

Tues., April 3rd: Ran 5.82 miles in 45:57.36, a 7:53.77 m/m pace. 40 degrees, clear, breezy. This was as much as I had at 5:30 in the morning. Pushed as hard as I could, though admittedly that wasn’t very hard. No issues as far as soreness or pain. I tried to pick up the pace during the second half, but didn’t have as much in the tank today as I did yesterday. It was 24 second negative split.

Wed., April 4th: Ran 5.82 miles in 44:33.08, a 7:39.29 m/m pace. 52 degrees, cloudy, breezy. Busted my ass out there today on the paths. Hit the hills hard, especially the second half of the run. First half of the run I hit a 7:53.88 pace, and the second I hit a 7:24.67. A 1:25 negative split. Had to stop on the second half to help some lost kid, probably the breather gave me the energy to push that much harder. Felt good no matter the reason.

Thur., April 5th: Ran 5.82 miles in 45:16.86, a 7:46.81. 42 degrees, clear, breezy. I gave it everything I had after about 31 minutes of running. I wasn’t slacking before that, but I found another gear after I saw that I had run a downhill mile in 7:45, which is slow. Ran the next uphill at about the fastest I have all week, and the last .89 of a mile I ran a 7:15 to tighten up my time. Not too bad.

Fri., April 6th: Ran 5.82 miles in 44:16.38, a 7:36.42 m/m pace. 38 degrees, clear, breezy. Worked on keeping the stride rate high on the uphills and I cut 10 seconds per mile off of my time today and 15 to 20 seconds off of my hill times. One minute six second negative split today, 7:47 pace on the first half, 7:25 the second. Nice. Had fun out there running with the sunrise. Got the place to myself today. Schweet.

Sat., April 7th: Ran 7.1 miles in 51:54.02, a 7:18.59 m/m pace. 58 degrees, cloudy, windy. Went all out, or as close to it as is possible today. I was amazed at the speed out there today. I knew I’d be faster here than I was all week, not running on hills, but I was not expecting to cut nearly 18 seconds per mile off of the fastest run i’d run this week so far. Had fun zooming out there.

Sun., April 8th: Ran 11.4 miles in 1:25:26.85, a 7:29.72 m/m pace. 54 degrees, sunny windy. I was going to go longer today, but it’s Easter Sunday and I have things to do, so I cut it one lap short. Had a ton of fun out there today hitting the path as fast as I could. Sub 7:30, even if it is just sub 7:30 for a 10+ miler really feels nice. Want to go long again tomorrow.

Mon., April 9th: Ran 9.5 miles in 1:11:04.37. a 7:28.88 m/m pace. 56 degrees, sunny, very windy. 20 mph winds gusting to 50 mph made this one a hard slough. Beautiful day otherwise, had fun running out there. No soreness to speak of, nice. I wasn’t what you’d call super fast out the chute, but I got faster as the run went on. First lap I ran a 7:37.9, last 2 laps I ran a 7:23, last lap was a 7:20.

Tues., April 10th: Ran 6.06 miles in 44:17.49, a 7:18.52 m/m pace. 54 degrees, partly cloudy, breezy. Drizzled right until the run began, it was fine after that, though. Noontime hills had me busting my butt something fierce. Hit the first downhill at a pretty good pace, 7:23 as I recall, hit the first uphill in a 7:32, and flew the rest of the way. Hella run. Note: The outside of my right foot at the front of the heel is sore, has been for a few days. Wasn’t too bad today, but it isn’t 100%. It bears watching.

Wed., April 11th: Ran 7.6 miles in 57:30.52, a 7:34.01 m/m pace. 50 degrees, cloudy, breezy. Never looked at the watch today, just ran. I kept my feet fast and ran, never trying to go super fast, but never took my time out there either. I could have gone longer today. No soreness issues today, the foot was not as bad today as it had been the last few days, didn’t notice it actually. Nice.

Thur., April 12th: Ran 11.4 miles in 1:27:52.89, a 7:42.53 m/m pace. 54 degrees, sunny, windy. I pushed hard on this one, though it doesn’t necessarily show in my time. Kept my feet as fast as I could, ran as fast as I could, it just wasn’t fast enough for my liking. I need to start running hills more and get back to exercising everyday, my times are always be better when I do that.

Fri., April 13th: Ran 5.82 miles in 43:57.66, a 7:33.20 m/m pace. 47 degrees, sunny, breezy. Short fast early morning run. After yesterday, it felt good to get out and fly on the hills this morning. Hamstrings were a bit sore, still are, but that’s not a big deal. Right foot is a hair sore but not too bad. Felt fast on the uphills today, which is really nice, because no running feels better than fast uphill running. Had fun out there today. Went over 100 miles on the month today. Nice.

Sat., April 14th: Ran 9.5 miles in 1:09:21.85, a 7:18.08 m/m pace. 66 degrees, sunny, breezy. I honestly didn’t think I had this kind of speed in me for this distance. I tried to push my stride rate as fast as I could for as long as I could today. Kept my feet moving over 33 steps per ten seconds the entire run, and was closer to 36 per ten at the very end of the run. Felt good to run a sub 14 minute lap average over all 5 – 1.9 mile laps today.

Sun., April 15th: Ran 13.3 miles in 1:40:25.50, a 7:33.04 m/m pace. 69 degrees, sunny, breezy. Kept my feet moving pretty quick during the entire run. I did make a conscious effort to move faster after the end of the fourth lap, wanting to see what I had in the tank. First 4 laps I ran a 7:35 pace, last 3 I ran a 7:29. Not a big diff, but I like the fact that I was able to increase my pace after running over 7 ½ miles. Had fun running in the sun. Been exercising with the wife a very little bit the last 2 days. Only a lil exercising, but it’s fun working out with her.

Mon., April 16th: Ran 5.82 miles in 42:59.21, a 7:23.16 m/m pace. 78 degrees, clear. Fun early evening run, except for the headache. That made this much tougher than it would have otherwise been. Still had fun out there, getting better at moving with speed on the uphills. Hit the second 1.01 mile uphill at a 7:27 pace, which is pretty damn good. Right foot seems better, no issues with it or anything else at all. Nice. 100 knuckle push-ups. Better’n nothin’ … barely.

Tues., April 17th: Ran 5.82 miles in 41:58.78, a 7:12.78 m/m pace. 72 degrees, clear, breezy. Holy crap I was quick today. No headache and a few degrees cooler made all the difference. Hit the half way point at 21:21 (7:20 pace) and ran the second half in 20:39 (7:05 pace.) This included a sub 6:59 downhill(1.01 miles) and a 6:52 run back home (.89 miles) Amazing. This has to be one of my best runs of the year, even the last few years. 125 knuckle push-ups.

Wed., April 18th: Ran 5.82 miles in 42:00.98, a 7:13.15 m/m pace. 52 degrees, cloudy, breezy, drizzle. Initially told myself I wasn’t gonna bust my ass out there. Ten steps in I was moving just as quick as I was yesterday, and pushing for all I was worth. Had to stop for traffic about 3 minutes in, and missed a step or two before I got the stopwatch moving (I hit the wrong #$%^# button), but I don’t think it made much difference in my time. Two steps at the pace I move at is less than 1 second. Had fun out there. 150 knuckle push-ups.

Thur., April 19th: Ran 5.82 miles in 42:44.94, a 7:20.71 m/m pace. 48 degrees, cloudy, breezy. Not a bad time for a 5:30 am start after the run I ran last night. I knew I’d be slower today, just because I’m always slower when I run in the morning, but I’m both surprised and happy that I was able to move this fast a lil more than half an hour after I woke up. Felt warmer than 48 out there, tell ya that. Good run.

Fri., April 20th: Ran 5.82 miles in 42:42.61, a 7:20.31. 50 degrees, cloudy, breezy. Nearly identical to my previous run. I felt my knee get loose on the second half of this run, and slowed down a hair and altered my stride a bit. It felt fine before long, and I was able to keep the pace fast after that. No other issues. The early morning speed is still surprising to me, and I like it. Beautiful morning for a run.

Sat., April 21st: Ran 13.3 miles in 1:38:27.19, a 7:24.15 m/m pace. 63 degrees, partly cloudy, windy. I had to stop for a minute after I finished lap one, my left knee felt loose and I gave it a short break before seeing if I could keep going. I busted it after that, and frankly could have gone longer. Hamstrings were kinda sore from pushing as hard as I did though, probably better that I cut off after 7 laps. Ran the last 3 laps in a 7:15.79, so I had a decent negative split. Nice.

Sun., April 22nd: NO RUN, NO EXERCISE. Could have done both. Didn’t. Dammit.

Mon., April 23rd: Ran 7.6 miles in 55:30.69, a 7:18.24 m/m pace. 48 degrees, cloudy, windy. Started fast, got faster as the run went on. First lap I ran 14:07 (7:25.78 m/m pace), Second a 14:00 (7:22.1) Third a 13:46 (7:14.73) and final a 13:38 (7:10.52) This was about as much speed as I am capable of right now, I was laboring pretty hard out there, especially during the third lap. For some reason the last lap was easier than the 3rd. Fun speeding in the park today. 175 knuckle push-ups.

Tues., April 24th: Ran 11.4 miles in 1:26:19.48, a 7:34.34 m/m pace. 54 degrees, partly cloudy, windy. I didn’t push as hard today as I did yesterday, but I kept my feet as fast I could. The distance was push enough for me today though. It was about 48 when I left the house today, and t the coolness of the day kept the park essentially empty. Works for me. 200 knuckle push-ups.

Wed., April 25th: Ran 5.82 miles in 42:26.42, a 7:17,52 m/m pace. 57 degrees, partly cloudy, breezy. Evening hills felt good today. 38 second negative split. Most of that was the return trip after 4.04 miles on the hills. The trip up to the 1.01 hill repeat took 6:50 (7:40.67 pace) The trip back down took 6:18 (7:04.71 pace.) The rest of the run was standard fare, 7:00 – 7:10 time on the downhill, and a 7:30 – 7:35 on the uphill. Had fun out there. 200 knuckle push-ups.

Thur., April 26th: Ran 11.4 miles in 1:25:09.33, a 7:28.18 m/m pace. 53 degrees, cloudy, windy. Initially went out thinking I was going to go long and ignore time, just say I don’t care about how fast I go today. That lasted about 10 seconds. I was fast from the get go, and decided to haul ass as far as I felt like going at that pace. 42:55 for the first 3 laps (7:31.75 pace), and 42:14 for the second half (7:24.56 pace) 41 second negative split. Not too bad.

Fri., April 27th: Ran 4.42 miles in 33:56.62, a 7:40.77 m/m pace. 45 degrees, cloudy, windy. Short post work run, made short by the call of nature. It’s hard to run fast when yer butt cheeks are clenched for 3 ½ miles of a 4 ½ mile run. Lulz. It wasn’t a bad run, but I’ve had better. 175 knuckle push-ups.

Sat., April 28th: Ran 9.5 miles in 1:08:40.25, a 7:13.71 m/m pace. 55 degrees, cloudy, breezy. I thought I’d be fast today. I tried hard pretty much from the start to keep my feet moving as quick as my body was capable of. I don’t think I’ve ever moved them quite as fast as I did today. I didn’t stretch my stride, meaning there is room for more speed, but this is about as fast as I could move right now. I was all smiles as I was nearing the end of this run, it was just that good. 200 knuckle push-ups.

Sun., April 29th: Ran 11.4 miles in 1:25:51.45, a 7:31.88 m/m pace. 60 degrees, sunny, breezy. I felt more relaxed out there today, despite keeping my feet moving fast. After yesterday’s pace, I decided to take it down a notch for this one. Nice day out, really beautiful, and that brings out everyone, which made for clogged running lanes, but I managed. Could have gone longer, decided against as my hammies were starting to really feel beaten out there. 200 knuckle push-ups.

Mon., April 30th: Ran 11.4 miles in 1:25:55.15, a 7:32.20 m/m pace. 55 degrees, sunny, windy. Pushed harder out there today than yesterday. Was faster over the first 3 laps today, but could not keep the pace and lost time over the last 3 laps. I was interested in distance today more than anything. I needed to run over 10.24 miles to make it over 800 miles on the year, and I wanted it today. Got it. Nice. 200 knuckle push-ups.

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

March 2012 Running Commentary

Once a month I clear out the content on my Running Commentary page and place it here on the main page to make room for fresh content on that page.  This is the March 2012 Running Commentary.  Enjoy!

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This month: 223.76 miles.  Longest run: 15.2 miles (March 11th) Shortest run: 5.62 miles (March 9th, 13th, 19th, 20th & 26th)  27 runs in 31 days during the month. Average run distance for the month: 8.287 miles

2012 Mileage total: 559.84 miles  Longest run of the year: 15.2 miles (March 11th) Shortest run of the year:  3.8 miles (February 6th).  72 runs on the year.  Average run distance:  7.775 miles

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I’m not 100% happy about ending the month with a day off on a Saturday, but beyond that, this was a great run month.  I matched January’s very surprising distance total, though I ran one day less in March than in January.  I went over the 10 mile mark 8 times, I ran hills with some level of quickness, a bunch of sub 7:30’s on the hills, which is fantastic.

Sore hamstrings, calves and stomach muscles were an issue throughout the month, but never enough to keep me off of my feet.  The weather was fantastic again, like it was in January.  I can run in low 50’s all day, and only things that needed my attention (i.e. work, writing, wife, sleep, etc,etc, etc. ) kept me from running further on a great many days.

I didn’t really exercise enough, but I got in as much exercise as I was capable of in the limited time allotted me.  Even if I didn’t get strong, I didn’t lose anything either.

April should be a strong run month.  I’m going to try to push the distance envelope as much as possible this month, even if work keeps me busy every day.  Might  make it to 800 miles on the year before April 30th, will give it everything I’ve got to do it.

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Thur., March 1st:  Ran 5.82 miles in 44:50.31, a 7:42.25 m/m pace.  39 degrees, cloudy, breezy.  My feet were sore as hell as the run started, thanks to the crappy shoes I wore to work today.  But surprisingly, the pain and soreness went away as the run went on.  Pretty damn happy about that.  The uphill runs were usually around an 8 m/m, and the downhills around a 7:30.  The time I ran today, it’s not so bad.  I’ll take it.75 knuckle push-ups, 30 chin-ups.  Wanted to get my feet wet again, after a month of no upper body work at all.  Should have gone harder.

Fri., March 2nd:  NO RUN, NO WORKOUT.  Worked late, never got out.

Sat., March 3rd:  Ran 10.9 miles in 1:23:48.57, a 7:41.33 m/m pace.  53 degrees, sunny, breezy.  I tried to keep my feet moving fast but I didn’t push hard today.  Felt good going at the pace I did today even if it was not me pushing my hardest for any length of time during the run.  Left ankle was a bit sore early, but the soreness went away as the run went on.  No worries.  Had fun out there.100 knuckle push-ups, 40 chin-ups.  Same as Thursday, will begin the upper body sweat in earnest in a day or three.

Sun., March 4th:  Ran 14.7 miles in 1:58:41.91, an 8:04.48 m/m pace.  38 degrees, cloudy, breezy.  Longest run of the year, so far.  Just going this distance was pushing hard.  Hamstrings were sore after the first of the seven park laps, and stayed that way.  I was slow because of it, but also, or more appropriately mainly because I knew I was going on my longest run of the year so far, with not a large mileage base underneath me, after those February days off, and knew I couldn’t do it with speed.  Good run. 100 knuckle push-ups, 40 chin-ups.

Mon., March 5th: Ran 7.1 miles in 54:48.94, a 7:43.23 m/m pace.  39 degrees, sunny, breezy.  In actuality this is two complete and separate runs.  One of them 3.8 miles the other 3.3.  I hurt my knee during the first run which was going to be a 7.1 miler.  I told myself that I was going to finish the run after a few minutes to rest the knee at home, but I ended up working on a clogged drain there & that took a while.  So, the numbers were actually; 3.3 miles in 26:02.27, a 7:53.41 pace, and 3.8 miles in 28:46.67, a 7:34.38 pace. That second run was itself the tale of 2 runs.  First lap I ran in 15:06, a 7:56 pace, and the second in 13:40, a 7:11.57 pace.  200 knuckle push-ups.

Tues., March 6th:  Ran 10.56 miles in 1:24:45.38, an 8:01.57 m/m pace.  36 degrees, sunny, breezy.  I thought I was moving faster than this today.  Knee wasn’t an issue, hammies and calves were tight, but not too bad.  The hills were difficult today, but I managed to plow through, hardest time was on the beginning of the second half, the hill up Walbrooke avenue, the hammies were a mess the whole way up that hill, that was a hard slough.  The rest of the run was OK, never 100%, but close to it in some other places, like Broadway coming out of Harvest on the way back.  Had fun out there.  80 chin-ups, as much as I could do in the few minutes I had to exercise in.

Wed., March 7th:  Ran 5.82 miles in 44:06.46, a 7:34.71 m/m pace.  55 degrees, clear, windy.  Beautiful weather for early March, it feels like a may evening out there.  I was not sure how good this run would be, my left calf cramped up on me a bit on the way home, but it was fine by the time I was ready to head out at 8:00 pm.  My time on the 1.01 mile uphills were 7:47 and 7:57, and the 1.01 mile downhills were 7:30 and 7:17, ran the .89 mile path from home to the hills in 8:03, and ran the same .89 mile path on the way back in a 7:11.  Nice.  No exercise, just beat today.

Thur., March 8th:  Ran 11.4 miles in 1:27:43.55, a 7:41.71 m/m pace.  66 degrees, sunny, windy.  Even with winds that gusted over 35 mph out there, this is great run weather.  Can’t ask for better in early March.  The park sucked tho.  The parks department had crews out all over the place cutting down trees… parked in the paths.  Damn near killed myself trying to run one lap running over, past and sometimes through all the crap they left lying around and their vehicles.  Ran that lap, said fuck it, and ran hills for 9.5 miles after that.  The run turned into 3/10ths of a mile hill repeats for a bit. 150 knuckle push-ups, 60 chin-ups.

Fri., March 9th:  Ran 5.62 miles in 44:04.74, a 7:50.59 m/m pace.  40 degrees, cloudy, windy.  I ran about as hard as I could here, one small cup of coffee to power the run.  It was a fine effort, albeit a slower than expected one.  No issues with hamstrings or calves, though both are and have been a bit sore of late.  Nothing more to tell.

Sat., March 10th:  Ran 7.1 miles in 53:18.40, a 7:30.47 m/m pace.  40 degrees, sunny, breezy.  Shorter than normal Saturday run.  I had no idea how long I was going to go when I walked out the door today, but after hitting a fast early pace, I decided to go shorter and fast.  Ran the 3 park loops (5.7 miles) in 7:24, and a 7:52 on the hills (1.4 miles) to and from the park.  150 knuckle push-ups, 60 chin-ups.

Sun., March 11th:  Ran 15.2 miles in 2:01:21.10, a 7:59.01 m/m pace.  52 degrees, sunny, windy.  Longest of the year so far.  My time for the first two laps was sub 8, but by the time the end of lap 3 came around, I had nudged up to an 8:00 mile flat pace, then got slower for the next 2 laps.  I stopped looking at my watch and got a shade faster, finished just faster than that 8:00 m/m pace.  Pretty happy about that, I was not expecting to be able to do that.  Nice.  150 knuckle push-ups.  I was going to do more, but things were busy and I never got to it.

Mon., March 12th:  Ran 5.82 miles in 43:53.11, a 7:32.42 m/m pace.  62 degrees, cloudy, breezy.  I ran round about normal speed on the uphills today, call it a 7:50 – 7:55 pace.  Hit the downhills at about a 7:20 – 7:25 pace.  But I lit it up on the way back home,  ran that last .89 miles in a 6:57.  Schweet.  Good to see that I can hit sub 7 now and again.  Nice.  And after last months disappointing mileage total, It’s good to break the 100 mile barrier this early in the month.  Double nice. 150 knuckle push-ups, 60 chin-ups.

Tues., March 13th:  Ran 5.62 miles in 42:23.87, a 7:32.64 m/m pace.  68 degrees, clear, breezy.  It felt easy out there tonight.  It was just fun pushing out there, despite walking out the door with what feels like a cold.  Sinuses are a mess, but running was easy.  Hit the first hill fast and never looked back.  I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to run at all feeling as ill as I was.  This was a great run day.  175 knuckle push-ups, this was as much as I had time for before I went to bed.

Wed., March 14th: Ran 6.28 miles in 47:39.18, a 7:35.28 m/m pace.  64 degrees, clear, breezy. I am an idiot some days.  Near the end of the run in a dark spot during the run, I went to hit the light on my watch.  I missed and hit the wrong button and my time disappeared, then proceeded to stand there and fight with my watch while trying to get it to show my time.  I think I stood there fighting my watch and losing for at least 20 seconds.  Dammit.  The run was fast, felt that way anyway.  Happy with the run otherwise. 150 knuckle push-ups.  Sucks that the amount of exercise is actually decreasing.  Need more time.

Thur., March 15th:  Ran 6.28 miles in 48:55.54, a 7:47.44 m/m pace.  42 degrees, breezy, drizzle.  Not a bad run.  I didn’t think I’d be able to keep up the kind of pace I’d run the last few days.  I kept a strong pace but never really put my foot on the gas today.  I didn’t look at the watch for most of the run, and that made this run feel good.  Not sweating my time, not concerned about a negative split or pace.  Just run.  Felt nice.

Fri., March 16th:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.

Sat., March 17th:  Ran 7.1 miles in 52:13.29, a 7:21.30 m/m pace.  50 degrees, sunny, breezy.  I have had a cold, or something that resembles one, since about Monday.  It’s been really good running all week, and today was no exception.  Maybe it’s short runs after the long one last Sunday, maybe the medication I’ve been doing for the cold, but I have been fast all week.   Zooming fast today, haven’t felt this quick in a dogs age. Nice.

Sun., March 18th:  Ran 13.3 miles in 1:42:57.64, a 7:44.48 m/m pace.  61 degrees, sunny.  Tweaked my knee halfway through lap two of the seven lap run.  Had to stop for a few minutes, and I kept the speed down for laps three and four just to play it safe.  7:42 pace for laps one and two, 7:54 for laps three and four.  7:38 and change for laps four through seven.  Had fun today, even with the knee tweak. 200 knuckle push-ups, 80 chin-ups.  Closest thing to an actual workout in forever.  Felt good.

Mon., March 19th:  Ran 5.62 miles in 41:24.01, a 7:21.99 m/m pace.  64 degrees, clear, breezy.  I busted my ass on this run, had my feet moving very fast and stretched my stride as far as I was able to.  And with this being a night hill run, it makes the time doubly impressive, to me anyway.  I had fun out there, hauling ass on the hills. 150 knuckle push-ups.

Tues., March 20th:  Ran 5.62 miles in 41:24.59, a 7:22.09 m/m pace.  52 degrees, dense fog, drizzle.  It felt like I hit it harder today than I did yesterday, even with the nearly same exact time.  Probably because I was actually a shade slower early, hit the halfway point 9 seconds slower than I did yesterday, and finished with the time that I did, meaning I ran the second half nine seconds faster today than yesterday.  Nice.  Slower tomorrow methinks. 125 knuckle push-ups, 50 chin-ups.

Wed., March 21st:  NO RUN NO EXERCISE.

Thur., Mar 22nd:  Ran 6.28 miles in 50:50.66, an 8:05.77 m/m pace.  65 degrees, partly cloudy.  Took my time today.  I didn’t feel like busting my ass after busting my ass at work all day.  I had a headache, which made a hard effort even harder to contemplate.  So I took my time and really just enjoyed being out running, just enjoying the nice weather.  This was a great run.  Had a nice time out there.  No exercise. I was beat.

Fri., Mar 23rd:  Ran 6.28 miles in 49:34.86, a 7:53.70 m/m pace.  58 degrees, cloudy.  I pushed about as hard today as I did yesterday, but ran 12 seconds a mile faster today than yesterday.  Not a particularly fast time, but I’m happy with it.  Ran averaging 7:30′s on the downhills and 8:10′s or so on the uphills.  Nice morning for a run, enjoyed it out there.  No exercise, I worked for 13 hours, got home at midnight, didn’t have time to exercise.

Sat., Mar 24th:  Ran 8.22 miles in 1:02:13.13, a 7:34.15 m/m pace.  53 degrees, cloudy, breezy.  Had fun out there today, really pushed hard in the park, sub 7:30 in the park, the hills being more difficult were a bit slower; 7:50 or so.  Kept it as quick as I could, even when my left knee started to bother me, and my hamstrings got sore during the run. I almost stopped to massage the knee, but decided against, and was able to keep moving quick.  Nice.  225 knuckle push-ups.

Sun., Mar 25th:  Ran 13.3 miles in 1:42:36.22, a 7:42.87 m/m pace.  46 degrees, cloudy, windy.  Almost identical to last weeks long run, 20 seconds faster.  Felt pretty good out there, though the hammies did tighten up on me a bit towards the end of the run.  I got quicker, albeit very slightly as the run went on.  Ran a 7:45.8 pace for first 4 laps, a 7:38.6 for the last 3.  Not too bad, I guess. 225 knuckle push-ups.

Mon., Mar 26th:  Ran 5.62 miles in 43:44.64, a 7:47.01 m/m pace.  48 degrees, cloudy, breezy.  Not too bad a pace for an early morning pre-work run. Hit the first turnaround all sorts of slow, but the rest of the run I made pretty good time on.  It’s always the start of these morning runs that are hella slow, seems like that anyway. Felt good to get in an early morning sweat, I like morning hills for some reason. No exercise.

Tues., Mar 27th:  Ran 9.5 miles in 1:11:19.92, a 7:30.51 m/m pace.  48 degrees, sunny, breezy.  Pushed about as hard as I could out there, and went longer than I originally planned on going.  Kept my feet fast for the whole run, and stretched my stride about as long as I was capable of today.  No hamstring issues today, they didn’t tighten up during the run, which is really nice.

Wed., Mar., 28th:  Ran 7.6 miles in 57:05.46, a 7:30.71 m/m pace.  65 degrees, sunny, breezy.  Didn’t look at the watch all run, didn’t think about my time or about how fast I was going until the second half of the final lap.  Busted my ass to get ahead of and then stay ahead of some guy who was initially ahead of me.  Had fun out there just running for fun, ignoring the stopwatch.  225 knuckle push-ups.

Thur., Mar 29th:  Ran 11.4 miles in 1:28:42.12, a 7:47.85 m/m pace.  53 degrees, cloudy, windy. Wind and tight hamstrings made this one seem hard, but I didn’t push the pace that hard here.   For most of the run I went at a comfortable pace with short fast strides, but nothing difficult.  During part of lap 5 and the end of lap 6 I did push a bit, but that was about it.  Thirty mph winds made for hard running coming down the second half of each lap.  No exercise.

Fri., Mar 30th: Ran 5.7 miles in 42:01.27, a 7:22.32 m/m pace.  52 degrees, sunny, windy. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to go today.  Left ankle was sore as hell to start with today, almost stopped me before I started.   Kept going, and as soon as the ankle pain dissipated I turn on the afterburners and left everything out on the paths.  Felt good to fly out there today. 7:16 pace for the last 2 laps after the hobbled start.  Nice.

Sat., Mar 31st:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.  Busy day, could not get to it.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

February 2012 Running Commentary

Once a month I clear out the content on my Running Commentary page and place it here on the main page to make room for fresh content on that page.  This is the February 2012 Running Commentary.  Enjoy!

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This month: 111.6 miles.  Longest run: 10.9 miles (February 25th and 29th) Shortest run: 3.8 miles (February 19th)  17 runs in 29 days during the month. Average run distance for the month: 6.564 miles

2012 Mileage total: 336.08 miles  Longest run of the year: 13.92 miles (January 23rd) Shortest run of the year:  3.8 miles (February 6th).  45 runs on the year.  Average run distance:  7.468 miles

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It all fell apart for me this month.  I took a few days off early because I needed to recharge the batteries.  It really felt good to take those days off, I needed the rest.  But when I started back up my hamstrings which were bad before, through disuse apparently got worse, and really tightened up on me.  The pain got so bad I had to shut it down a second time, for eight days.  I didn’t think I came back running too fast or too long, as a matter of fact, looking at the times I ran I was taking my time, and the distances weren’t great.

Maybe I should have taken a few days more than just those initial four.

Be that as it may, after that setback when I started up, I was rested and healed up enough.  It made the runs for the rest of the month good runs.  I ran a few semi-long runs, two 10+ miler, and I averaged 9 miles a day in the last 5 days of the month, after averaging 5.55 for the first 12 runs, i.e. until the 24th.

It might not have been my best month, but it did end on a high note.  I’m gonna hang my hat on that.

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February 1st:  Ran 6.26 miles in 47:04.12, a 7:31.13 m/m pace.  54 degrees, clear, breezy.  This was going to be an identical run to yesterdays run, but I added a little bit to the end of one lap, .22 miles, just to do it.  I was feeling fast most of the night out there.  Not surprising though, mid 50′s anytime is great running weather, and it’s especially beautiful for the first of February.  110 chin-ups.

February 2nd:  Ran 5,82 miles in 43:36.28, a 7:29.53 m/m pace.  37 degrees, clear, windy.  Ran pretty damn fast today on the hills.  Minor issue with a callous on the outside bottom of my left foot.  I’ll sand it tonight. Kept my feet fast and my strides as long as possible.  Good speed out there.  No exercise.

February 3rd:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.

February 4th:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.

February 5th:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.

February 6th:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.

February 7th:  Ran 5.2 miles in 40:28.78, a 7:47.07 m/m pace.  46 degrees, sunny, windy.  First time out on the paths since Thursday, and to be honest I was a bit hesitant to go out today.  It took a while to convince myself to go out, but I was happy I did once I did.  Not the overjoyed feeling I’ve had after injury layoffs though.  More the feeling of happy familiarity that was missing when I wasn’t running.  Not sure how to take that.  I was expecting to feel more jubilant to be back on the road again.

February 8th:  Ran 5.82 miles in 46:27.65, a 7:58.97 m/m pace.  31 degrees, sleet.  Slow going today, but I wasn’t trying to go fast.  Left hamstring tightened up on me today as well.  It would happen on a day when I’m not trying to push hard, go fig.  It was snowing before the run, but it became a light sleet just before the run and stayed that way for the entirety of the run.  Feh and other such statements.

February 9th:  Ran 5.82 miles in 47:39.27, an 8:11.28 m/m pace.  36 degrees, clear, windy.  This run hurt.  I ran with a headache and a strained left hamstring, both of which kicked my butt on the hills today.  I wanted to run today, even with both of those going on because I had takes those 4 days off earlier.  No fun on the hills this night.  Hopefully it’ll be better tomorrow, hopefully the hammy will be better, or at least well enough to run longer.  It’d be nice.

February 10th:  Ran 5.7 miles in 45:43.04, an 8:01.23 m/m pace.  44 degrees, sunny, breezy.  My left hamstring felt fine all day today.  I was planning on and looking forward to going long today, I was thinking minimum 7 laps(13.3 miles) in the park.  I walked down to the park, and thought maybe I’ll take my time.  I took the first step to run and the hammy was immediately in pain.  I tried to push through, made it through 2 and a half laps, and it got worse.  I half limped to the end of lap 3 and had to stop.  I am at this point hoping it is a short layoff, 3 days or so, but longer would not surprise me.  Dammit.

February 11th:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE. From the 11th to the 18th, off due to hamstring and calf strains.

February 12th:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.

February 13th:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.

February 14th:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.

February 15th:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.

February 16th:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.

February 17th:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.

February 18th:  NO RUN, NO EXERCISE.

February 19th:  Ran 3.8 miles in 31: 02.08, an 8:10.02 m/m pace.  40 degrees, sunny, breezy.  It’s good to be back.  I was initially thinking of going 5.7 miles here, but decided to cut it short, not wanting to overdo it and re-injure anything.  I didn’t realize how much I had missed the road until I was coming back from running.  Soreness and a great many other issues had drained the joy of running from me, but it is back.  Felt great being back on the paths again.

February 20th:  Ran 5.7 miles in 44:53.39, a 7:52.52 m/m pace.  42 degrees, sunny, windy.  I’m happy with the pace today.  Happy about it because I was sub 8 on my first 1.9 mile lap, and finished at 7:52.  Didn’t think I’d be sub 8 two days in after having more than a week off, and 12 days off in February.  No soreness to speak of, slight tightness, but that is more a product of just being a runner, not a product of an impending injury.

February 21st:  Ran 5.62 miles in 45:14.46, an 8:03.00 m/m pace.  44 degrees, mostly clear.  Had a headache, which made the run a great deal more difficult.  Busted my ass, or as close to it as I could get out there tonight.  This was as much as I had, and dammit I am not happy about it.  Gonna have to hit some serious distance, and soon.  Or hills every damn day.  Something like that.

February 22nd:  Ran 5.62 miles in 42:29.19, a 7:33.59 m/m pace.  50 degrees, clear, breezy.  No headache, no problem.  I ran with something of a chip on my shoulder tonight.  Went out hard, trying to prove to myself that yesterday’s slow time was an aberration.  And frankly I think that it was, and that after 4 days back on the path that I am rounding back into form.  12 days off this month took more out of me than I thought it would.  Happy to be rounding back into shape.

February 23rd:  Ran 5.62 miles in 42:35.39, a 7:34.69 m/m pace.  48 degrees, cloudy.I wanted to push hard again today, to prove to myself that yesterday was no fluke.  Similar conditions, similar time, felt pretty good.  I was slower early than I was yesterday, but both days second halves were quick. Had fun out there, even if my feet are a bit sore.  Had fun out there.

February 24th: Ran 5.62 miles in 44:26.60, a 7:54.48 m/m pace.  42 degrees, cloudy.  Left anterior compartment was sore and gave me a hard time during the run, Made it hard to move quick.  I actually hit the ½ way point 6 seconds slower than I did on the 21st, so I pushed on the second half & ran the second half in 26 seconds faster than the first half.  Not bad considering the Left A.C. issue there.  Good run.

February 25th:  Ran 10.9 miles in 1:23:07.64, a 7:37.58 m/m pace.  38 degrees, very windy, cloudy, snow flurries.  Didn’t think it was cold enough for snow, but it snowed out there.  Wind gusts over 40 mph with sustained winds over 20 miles per hour made this a hard long run, especially with it being my first long run since January 29th.  Happy that I could hit this pace.  The wind was in my face most of the run, this was no wind aided pace.  Had fun running long today.

February 26th:  Ran 7.1 miles in 53:38.47, a 7:33.30 m/m pace.  41 degrees, sunny, breezy.  Could have gone longer but I was fighting a headache and a lack of sleep all day, and decided against going long.  Pushed hard out there today, it felt good gunning it out there, this one felt quick, and that made the run really enjoyable.  Feels good stringing together 8 runs in a row after missing 12 days this month.

February 27th:  Ran 9 miles in 1:09:42.24, a 7:44.69 m/m pace.  46 degrees, sunny, windy.  I pushed hard in spots out there, not the whole way, took it easy on the second lap, and part of the third.  Slowed down my stride rate (unintentionally to begin with,) but once I realized it I kept it there until I felt ready to push again.  Had a stitch at one point, but it went away fairly quickly.  Had fun out there.

February 28th:  Ran 7.1 miles in 52:19.83, a 7:22.22 m/m pace.  48 degrees, sunny, breezy.  I busted my ass out there today, gave as much as I had out there today.  I was fast from the start, and turned it up in the park.  Toenail on my right foot cut into one of my other toes, and I ended up with bloody sock as a consequence.  No big deal though.  Over 100 miles on the month, I wasn’t sure I’d get there, happy to do it.  Wanted 200, but 12 days off this month scuttled that.

February 29th:  Ran 10.9 miles in 1:27:53.12, an 8:03.77 m/m pace.  39 degrees, windy, heavy rain.  It was coming down in buckets during the day’s run.  The wind was harsh, and there were times I thought there was sleet out there.  Wind & rain, and soaked clothing slowed me down a bit out there.  The biggest factor though was making a conscious decision to not push as hard today as I did yesterday.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night!

Mid February Late Night Idle Talk

Pic of the day:  The Ambassadors, By Hans Holbein the younger

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Made up my mind to begin writing here early in the afternoon, right after I wrote more for my story of the month, but I took my time. I was busy doing nothing, and enjoying doing nothing, and happy at feeling rested for the first time in I couldn’t tell you how long.  Felt good.  I was eating like a damned pig, and enjoying it. I don’t think I have had an hour today where I wasn’t stuffing my ugly pie hole with some type of pie or some such.  Maybe not the healthiest thing I could do, but I was feeling the need for a dirt day, so I took it.

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I have not run since Friday afternoon because of tightness in my left hamstring.  My wife told me there was a knot in the muscle.  I didn’t believe her until I felt the damn thing myself.  It has me on my butt and not running until it heals up.  I am hoping that it heals so that I can run tomorrow.  I don’t mind days off, but days off when I had plans to run irritate me to no end.  I haven’t exercised in nearly 2 weeks.  Feels odd having time off like that.

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The Christmas lights are still up, but they’ll be coming down soon.  Every year I take them down earlier and earlier.  Used to be that I took them down after St. Patrick’s day, now I’m getting ready to take them down around hallmark and your florist need money day Valentines day.  I must be getting old.  That sucks.

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I have a fantasy baseball team, two in fact in two different leagues.  I have fantasy baseball teams because real ones are expensive.

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One of those teams drafted yesterday.  I didn’t do great, but I wasn’t bad either.  First 6 picks, and I drafted 9th in a 12 team league were Joey Votto, Justin Verlander, Alex Gordon, and Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez and James Shields.

I moved up and grabbed Alex Gordon probably two rounds early, for two reasons.  One I think the kid has tons of upside potential, and two, the best outfielders were gone, and I needed something, and he was about the best outfielder out there in round three.  I missed a major run on outfielders that happened after my second round pick, and before the Gordon pick.

I just wanted Mariano, Votto was the best out there at the 9 pick, and how could I pass up Verlander at 16?  A-Rod fell far and I needed some kind of power in my line up, and if he can stay healthy. he’ll be a boost to the Yankees and my roster.  The kid Shields will do well again this year.

It’s fun drafting fantasy baseball teams.

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You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.

Neil Gaiman

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I had been putting off, subconsciously perhaps, doing writing on my story of the month, which still does not have a name, for a few reasons. One was I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go with it, and there were so many possible different directions that I could go in.  It starts out as a story about a guy who is just having a bad day.

A really bad day, which in fact starts out the night before, when he gets drunk and punched in the face and nearly knocked out cold. Which makes a mess of a great many things.

The second reason I was putting off writing this is pretty simple.  This started off as a very unstructured story, and I did not want it to turn into me venting about different things that have gone on in my life, consciously or not.

The character, Bobby, has something of a drinking problem.  Just like I used to.

I was planning on creating job issues that get him in serious trouble.  I’ve been fired and gone through hell on that front, just like lots of other people.

And dammit I did not want this turning into me just venting my spleen, or some odd form of psychological retribution against all the wrongs that have happened in my life.  But then I had another thought.  What if it turns out that that makes a really good story? What if it happens that really good things, story wise, occur when you add some level of drama to an already occurring life and events in it, past or present?

So I decided to go for it.   I picked the story back up at around 11:30 am.

I wrote for about 3 solid hours, maybe a little longer.  Just short of 4,000 words later I had written two more chapters worth of stuff.  And yes, the chapters are relatively short, this being a short story and not a 125,000+ word novel.

I had Bobby accidentally take sleeping pills instead of painkillers to get rid of a hangover, with less than pleasant effects (which I am not done with) had kids mess with him while he was damn near comatose on a bus, had him go to work, screw up while there and get fired.

I even named the boss Mike, modeled him after some darker vision and version of myself, and fired Bobby for stuff he could have just as easily let go.

I’m just at the point where Bobby has walked out after being canned.  I’m not sure what I am going to do with or to him at this point, but I am thinking of deepening the character, show him run into an old flame, show an obsession with guns  and politics perhaps, or a drug connection of some type with horrible consequences for some poor slob, maybe him, maybe someone else.  Something major like that, something meaty that I can work into a story.

Dammit this is fun!

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

The Run

Here it is ladies and gentlemen, in all it’s unedited glory, all 10,600 plus words of January’s story of the month, The Run.  Tell me what you think. I still haven’t read it from front to back.  Hope it doesn’t suck too much.  🙂

Enjoy

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Before the scheduled 5.62 mile run,  I look up and to my right, to the dimly lit front window of the apartment where I and my wife live.  There is no movement, no motion to indicate that anything is going on there.  One light is on, off to the right of the window, venetian blinds drawn, one slat out of place, pulled on too many times and permanently out of place.

Light from the street light shines dully on my hooded sweatshirt, hood down, revealing to anyone who passed, stains that won’t wash out from previous runs and outings at various eateries from other days and the words “NEW YORK RANGERS” across my chest, my black hat covered in cat fur, blue sweatpants, and grey and orange beaten trail shoes, stained from months of long running to a much deeper shade of grey than the manufacturer intended.

My wife is just under and beyond the window, writing words for complete strangers for money, like all good writers do.  Standing on the sidewalk in front of my house, I wave to the window, even though I know no one is looking.  Wave goodbye to the person who isn’t there, who isn’t waving back.  She’s busy, and I am as well.  I’m OK with that.

I level my gaze, and look up the street to scan the incoming traffic.  There are two pairs of headlights shining brightly in the distance, light dancing and glancing off of the street and the other cars.  The cars are staying still, the cars are not moving.

I look at my stopwatch, zeroed out, ready to start.

The cool winter breeze is coming in at my back, it is too cool to carry any scents along with it, or my nose is too stuffed, one of the two.  The street lights afford only minimal lighting, enough if you are underneath them but nothing approaching enough light to do anything significant except lose the house-keys that you’ve dropped, and not trip over the dimly lit pile of garbage that is sitting in the darkness, just past the cone of light that emanates from above.

I’m ready to run.  So.  Go.  Start the stopwatch as I lift my left foot to begin.

With the first step one of the cars that was sitting parked with lights on decides to come down the street.  In five steps I am a quarter way across the street, and he is just pulling out from in front of his apartment, 7 or 8 doors up.  His semi-expensive looking Beemer looks like an animal waiting to pounce, the cars body a sleek but dull burnished grey, headlights set low and wide shine like hunters eyes reflecting a deep hungry malice.  But for all that, he is too far away to be a danger to me. I turn to look at the lights coming at me. The sound of his motor humming is not quite the hunter in the shadow sound that one would think would come from a car that looks like that.  It sounds quiet.  Not too quiet, a good quiet, like the first notes of the New York Philharmonic playing Beethoven’s Fourth symphony.

Then he honks his horn.  It sounds weak and pathetic in the distance.

Drivers like horns, they are loud toys in the hands of loud people who enjoy being loud.  I toss the moloich at him, devil horns, pinky finger and index finger extended, thumb holding the other two down, straight at him, and quietly mouth the words “fuck off” at him.  Two can play this horns game.  Mine is quieter, but is meaner and means more.

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, that it is in my face at this point, when it is normally at my back, and it is trying to slap some sense into me I think, 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.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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.

Metal and running makes for fast runs.  Plus dance music sucks.

The downhill gets more pronounced as I run into the first major traffic of the run.  OK, major traffic is a bit of an overstatement.  It is the closest thing on this particular run that I will get to it, and it is an intersection on a primary street, if you can really call it that.  The intersection of Rice and slosson avenues is pretty small.  Rice runs for all of four blocks distance, and slosson, while longer is only 2 lanes wide, and this spot is only 1 block from the streets terminus.

It has traffic on occasion, but not really tonight.  I get across fairly easily, and the downhill is about to come to an abrupt end.  As I turn from slosson onto rice, the downhill turns into a steep uphill along with a short sharp turn.

The transition is jarring.  One second I’m on an easy downhill with momentum at my back, coasting almost, with the wind most winter nights, and 3 steps later, there is a large daunting looking hill, and the wind is suddenly whipping in my face, and I have to give every ounce of energy I have just to maintain the pace I was running at easily a mere 2 or 3 seconds before.

The portion of hill I am looking at is steeper than heartbreak hill in Boston, and the part I am running on is mostly broken somewhat obstructed sidewalks, broken by trees growing in close proximity to the sidewalks, pushing large chunks up and breaking others, and obstructed by bushes that jut a full foot out over the sidewalk.  On special nights, like tonight, there are garbage cans out on the sidewalks as well,  leaving as much as 6 whole inches of unobstructed walkway for a runner to go by.

Did I mention this is an affluent neighborhood?  If it is normal for me to make the point that rich people don’t get rich by spending their money, it would stand to reason that they also don’t stay rich by fixing their sidewalks or leaving them uncluttered so us non-rich people can sweat on them when we go past.

And with the hill and the wind becoming more prominent, it is also time for me to grunt a bit more as I run, and also for my mind to wander just a little.  My form is set, I know where I am going, the precise path I am on, what I can expect from the wind and weather, being out in it it’s hard not to be, so it’s here, after getting back onto the sidewalk that I relax a bit.

With my father’s passing less than a week ago, I ruminate an awful lot about that.  Thoughts of the unfairness of his death at such a young age(67 is too young) pass through my head a lot, and I think it again here.  I’m not going to shed tears here, there are too many other things going on, I tell myself as a tear falls down my cheek.

With the lyric to the song that was dancing through my skull a minute ago running through again “Am I Going Insane?” I think this.  I apologize to dad for everything I’ve ever done and anything I can’t quite remember, and just being a pain in his ass when I was young and drunk and stupid, and even later when I was older, sober and just as stupid.  I tell myself the tears that are forming are from the wind.  And maybe they are… a little.

– – – – – – – – – –

I realize that thinking of dad got me past the hardest part of the hill without much thought about the effort, as I jump over a small broken piece of sidewalk, past some ugly shrubbery, and get close to the turn that takes me to a longer shallower incline, which after the ascent I passed without so much as realizing, seems to exert som kind of hard pull on me, and actually feels more difficult to do than the steep ascent.  It happens like that sometimes though.

The big part of the hill seems almost easy, and the top of the hill, where the ascent slows, before it flattens out, actually seems more difficult to run than the bit that was supposed to be harder to do.

Go fig.

As I run past the dog walker, the 105 pound elderly woman and her 7 pound rat dog who take up more space than seems possible for two things that are so tiny, I take a funny step and feel something happen to my knee.  This happens a fair bit with me.  My left knee has been a mess most of my adult life, since an accident where I was hit by a cab some 20 years prior (that’s another story.)

I curse long and loud.  I can here the dog skitter behind me, and hear the old woman gasp.  I care, I don’t want them thinking I’m a nut, but I’m also in pain, and the pain is my only voice at the moment.  That pain that hits is both sharp and hard, and immediately turns my run into a controlled speedy, limp. It almost reminds me of a car getting a flat tire.  One leg is just fine, stride unaffected, the other is a mess, with every revolution it is lower to the ground than it should be, making the entire chassis wiggle funny.

The inside of my left knee is on fire.  Sometimes I can mitigate the damage without stopping.  Sometimes, but not all the time. I try to hold down the pain without the stopping running in winter on a windy night, which would suck.

If I alter my stride by leaning forward, and twisting my foot slightly when I land so I land with my foot aimed a few degrees to the left, and pushing hard (but not too hard) on that leg to the inside, towards my right, while slowing down, it might help.  It doesn’t always, and I have on more than one occasion had to walk home from wherever I was when it happened, which is a bitch in winter, but sometimes you have to deal with a bitch.

On top of all that going through my head, I think it could be worse because this usually happens on flat ground, I’ve never had it happen on a hill before, and I’m hoping the hills doesn’t make it more difficult to handle. I don’t notice the stride alteration having much effect, and I begin to think that I may have to stop, but something clicks in my knee after about 30 seconds, and all of a sudden the run is easier.

Can’t recall as I’ve ever had it resolve itself quite that fast before, but I tell ya, I don’t mind.  I’m instantly happy, because I no longer have to think about walking home pissed off because I couldn’t run, because I’m not limping along, I’m running, and because I have successfully distracted myself through two of the more difficult parts of the run.

I hit the turnaround point, gingerly, I don’t want to press my luck by either turning too fast and doing more damage to the knee or pushing off too hard and doing the knee in that way, hit the turnaround slow and gentle, and go back the way I just came.  I see the woman whose dog was walking her start to cross the street as I make the turn, and the wind, which seemed to go away when I started to have the problem with the knee, kicked in for the third time.  Again like a hard slap in the face, but the winter wind at that corner always does that.

Guess I must like being slapped around by the wind.  Who knew?

Car headlights coming from the other direction blind me, make it hard to see. I squint while running at night, never a good thing, and get my left foot caught up in a small branch that fell from one of the trees in the area.  It catches in my shoelaces and comes around and breaks on my other ankle.  It’s a small branch though, so I ignore it, and keep going, simply noting it.

I’m getting to the point where I am starting to move pretty fast again, where I am happy that my knee isn’t going to implode, and the uphill that passed a scant two minutes ago is back, but now I’m running downhill, and again concentrating on speed, after not being able to for a while.

– – – – – – – –

Now, when I speed up like I am here, I alter my stride in my upper body by moving my shoulders in a more exaggerated movement, and actually do something I think of as bad form when running, namely wasting energy by pushing up, instead of just forward.

I try my best in most circumstances to keep my stride as level and even as possible, and on occasion during warmer weather I wear a chain when I run to make sure I run level.  I place the chain on top of whatever shirt I am wearing.  I have to run level when I do that, because if I don’t, the chain will smack me in the face.

I’ve had fun before, that isn’t it.

But I’m not thinking of my form here, I am doing math in my head.  Doesn’t sound like the most fun one can have, but it has a purpose.  I hit the .82 mile marker in 6:30 and change, the time on my casio stopwatch is too hard to read to make out more than that.

The math is real simple, if you’ve done it every day.  An 8 minute mile is the baseline.  So if a mile takes 8 minutes, 0r 480 seconds, a tenth of a mile takes 48 seconds, and a hundredth of a mile is 4.8 seconds. So an 8 minute mile should take for that distance should be around 6:33.

6:33?  Oh crap!  I’m running slooooooooooooooow!!!  Then again I had the knee act up on me, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.   But I refuse to make excuses, and increase my stride rate on the downhill after figuring out just how slow I was going.  Once upon a time, when I was first starting up night running, i did not have the confidence to just go all out at night, I was afraid of tripping over something I did not see.

I don’t have that little handicap at this point.  I turn my stride rate up as fast as I can manage, ignoring the knee that is still feeling tender as I start to increase speed, because that speed increase is not making the knee worse as I push harder on it.  Plus I’ve run this particular section of sidewalk hundreds of times now, and I know it like the back of my hand.

Headlights, streetlights and people are now on the periphery of my consciousness.  I’m ignoring everything but the run itself.  I’m thinking “run like there’s a cop chasing you and you did something to piss them off.”  As I hit the turn, while maintaining my speed, I have to jump over several breaks in the sidewalk.  The breaks themselves are only a few inches high, but the jumps  feel higher than that for some reason today.  Dunno why.  Maybe because I’m pushing with a little more ferocity, a little more purpose in my stride.

The wind turns and hits me in the face yet again, which it has done a number of times tonight, and will no doubt do a number of times after this.  Variable winds are a bitch sometimes, and I when it hits me hard I lie to myself saying I don’t mind the colder weather and the wind, but somewhere deep inside I do.  Somewhere deep inside I really don’t mind the warmer days that have come around for most of this winter, don’t mind the climate change, even though I know the damage it is doing to the planet.

Because I am a selfish bastard some days, and frankly when I am running it is all about me, especially when I am thinking of time.  But I only think like that for a moment, for only that single moment, when the whipping wind whips my face, when the gusts make me cringe with their sheer intensity and ferocity.

The best thing to do when the wind hits like that is to hit back.  But how do you hit the wind?  You don’t silly, but you push harder, or tell yourself you are pushing harder, it makes it seem like the increase in speed, or the seeming increase in effort at any rate is pushing back against that which is pushing me.  It is an excellent training tool, perhaps the most useful one in my arsenal.

Why the most useful?  Simple. I live on top of a valley, and run in that valley.  That valley acts like a wind tunnel. It is windy a lot here, except in the summer, so if I think of pushing harder and  faster into the wind as a training tool, and run in wind 9 days out of 10, I’m going to be doing a lot of high intensity training.

So I hit back, and lie to myself again about how much I enjoy this.  But the lie becomes truth.  I hit the steepest part of the downhill, and while I am flying with the wind in my face, i’m paying attention to the road ahead.  There’s a car pulling out of a driveway further up, and I’m not sure if I’ll have to slow down to run ahead of the front end of the car or even stop and wait for him to move out of my way.

I let the thought of jumping over the cars hood like in the old 70′s TV show Starsky and Hutch for just a second before smiling and putting the thought away.  I’m silly and a little crazy, but not that reckless.  But the guy stops  and pulls back in to his driveway out of the way after starting to pull out.  Forgot something I guess.  Lucky me.

100 more feet and I hit a right turn.

The right hand turn I take on this corner on this part of the downhill is a tight one, non-navigable on either side, and it makes for a very tight turn with the momentum of the downhill behind me. One side has a sign for the baby doctor on the corner right near the edge of the sidewalk, the other is grass, but it is several inches lower than the sidewalk, and falling into that while trying to make a 90 degree turn is a great way to twist an ankle.  I’ve done my ankle in before, and have no wish to go there again.

I lean right, and brush close to the doctors’ sign while running as close to the inside edge of the sidewalk as is possible.  After about 100 more feet, I am off of the docs land and on park land. I lost a little speed making the turn, and make no real try to make up for the loss.  My eyes are darting to and fro, checking the run path here for anything on the path. I’m on a section of parkland, and there is usually some detritus on the ground from falling branches and the like here, and the lighting here is worse than anywhere on the path, so I have to be careful.

– – – – – – – –

I notice a branch on the ground, thick as my forearm, about 5 feet long, but low enough to the ground to be hard to grab and move on the fly .  I try my best to lean down and grab it while at full speed anyway, but it does not work, I touch it, but only just, I graze the damn thing.  In the process of trying to grab it I feel my almost terminally tight right hamstring tighten on me yet again.  I positively bark in pain, but the tightness isn’t so bad that it causes me to stop, or even slow down, it is just an annoying pain in the ass.  Literally.  The tightness in my hamstring actually starts at the top of the muscle, and frankly it feels like a bee sting on my ass.

Nothing funny about this pain in my ass. I yell “FUCK” as the pain hits, and then a string of “goddamnitgoddamnitgoddamnitgoddamnit”s come out, barking my displeasure at pain  twice in the run from two separate spots within 10 minutes or so.

An aside:

I’m at this point less than half way through my run, and I’ve already tweaked my knee and my hamstring, but neither bad enough to actually stop me, had to dodge traffic and a dog walker, and have sped up (and slowed down) several times.  This is by no means an atypical run.  Most runs have some level of pain involved, unless I’m really taking my time, which I rarely do.  Pain is a constant companion, but that pain comes with something that makes the hurt palatable and entirely worth it.

Being in good enough shape to run as long as I want at an age when most people are getting fat and grey.  To be at my physical strongest when I need it most.  If I need it (and I do every day) I have more endurance than most people 20 years younger than I am, and when I want it, I am stronger than most everyone my size because of the conditioning I put myself through.

Back to it.

The tightness in my hamstring makes me shorten my stride a bit, but being on a downhill, I can easily make up for it by increasing my stride rate.  Just make up for it by moving my feet faster, and I do.  The downhill is steep, and the path is dark, I think about looking at the stop watch, but decide against.  Too dark.  Unnecessary. And my mind is elsewhere.  Much of the time I run I simply am thinking of other things.

I think about politics, I run through the events of the day, both on a personal level and on a larger level. My wife, my health, my cats, my family extended.  I on occasion say prayers for people in my life, and on occasion go over what I want to write.

Here I’m thinking about my dad and his passing, and about what I want to say on-line about it.  I’m feeling like I failed miserably when I eulogized him a few days before, and want nothing more than to make up for it by being uplifting and strong and subtle and powerful.  It leaves me thinking much about my distant past, when I was a young child and my father was a young man, younger than I am now.

I can picture in my head, as I am making the right turn at the lowest point on the run, playing football with my father, not more than a few hundred yards from the spot I am running on right now, at the age of  7 or so.

I can picture as I pass the hill where kids in cold snowy weather go sledding, my father and I and my brother John doing the exact same thing, sledding down the hill, only instead of using the latest in plastic crap that kids use for sledding now, using an actual sled, with rails, metal painted red, wood lacquered, turning using ropes attached at the lead edges.

I can picture skating on the lake that I am passing, back when the lake froze solid enough for people to skate on it when I was about 5 years old, falling down and cutting my lip badly on the ice.  I can remember being taken home by my parents, crying my little eyes out.

I remember going to the zoo, whose parking lot I am passing a great many times when I was a little boy, loving the snakes and the monkeys and being a little bit afraid of the lion, even though my dad and mom told me he had no teeth and wasn’t going to do anything.  I was afraid, but honestly a little let down by that.  I don’t know that I offhand looked to see his teeth.  I was 5, I wasn’t thinking things through quite that thoroughly.

The zoo parking lot is on the beginning of an uphill that runs for about a mile or so, and the hill is about the best lit portion of the entire run, being on a main thoroughfare.  As I run this part I begin to rock my shoulders in a more exaggerated motion, while keeping breath linked to motion.  Two steps, breathe in, two steps breathe out, two steps breathe in, two steps breathe out.  The breathing is a timing mechanism, helping keep up the pace, as the stride rate is a timing mechanism, helping keep breathing precisely regulated.

I’m breathing hard and fast, but that’s because I’m moving fast and running uphill.  190 or so steps a minute, around 47 breaths a minute.  All things, despite tight hammies and a slightly sore knee, are good as I hit another hard uphill on clove road.

– – – – – – – –

Cars are flying by faster here, and there is more crap on the sidewalk, tiny rocks and small pieces of glass and the like.  As I run here I on occasion end up with some small crap of some variety in one shoe or the other, and today is no difference.   And I deal with it the usual way, by scrunching up my toes a few times in mid-stride until the damn pebble or whatever it is is no longer in a position to stab me in the bottom of my foot.  Sometimes I have to stop to take it out, if it is large enough or is too much of an issue, but that isn’t the case here.

When I am scrunching my foot, the smell hits me for the first time during this run.  Car exhaust.  One of the problems in running near a major thoroughfare is the amount of pollution you run into.  There are cars and buses screaming by in both directions, and this being around rush hour, there are a lot of them.  As a consequence, the whole place smells like the ass end of some ugly 70′s piece-of-shit mobile.

And everyone is running rich, at least it smells that way. Buses pass by, belching smoke.  Cars pass by belching smoke.  A drunk walks by belching and smoking.  Which is OK, seeing how I belched back at him.  Trained professional I am.  Professional what exactly I leave for you to deduce.

I look around with greater frequency at this point, because there are driveways that I am passing, and small side-streets that I’m passing. I don’t want to get my ass flattened by someone who isn’t watching where he or she is going because I was dumb enough to not watch where I am going as well.  The side passages going into the cemetery that I pass on my right are safe, there is no one there after dark, at least no one with headlights that I need to be aware of.

As I come to the first of the small side-streets past the cemetery I am momentarily thrown by a parked car that is jutting out part way in my path.  The light shining from cars coming from behind me give the appearance of the  cars blinkers being on.  I am ready to either stop and let him pass or run behind him.  Then I notice that there is no one in the car, and figure out it was just the light from cars lights behind me making it look like a car with blinkers blinking.

I look to the sky for the first time.   It is a clear sky, but with the light pollution that is endemic to New York City there is not much in the way of stars in the sky, and the moon which a scant few days before was full is shining in the sky, making it difficult to see any but the brightest stars.  I can make out one star and the moon in the early night sky which is clear, mostly.  A wisp of small clouds, like traces of cotton floating gently, grace the dark sky in small strands.

I look and enjoy for the moment, but the moment passes and there are more obstacles to overcome.  The light from the condos that overlook the park behind them and the road in front is not quite blazing, but isn’t dull either.  It gives extra light to the people on the bus stop who move quickly out of my way as I pass.  One of the two has headphones on but sees me, and gives me room to pass. The other person, who is completely oblivious, is not in the way, and I pass through, waving and yelling my thanks as I go..

The hills here are not small, and are steep, but are short and fast hills.  Several hundred feet of downhill immediately follow several hundred feet of uphill, followed by several hundred feet of shallow downhill, followed by several hundred feet of shallow uphill.  Kind of like a roller coaster.

Check the watch, too dark to read, but I  make out what I think is an “18″ where it reads minutes.  If I know my pacing, that would put me at the turn around point at 21 something, which is not a bad pace.

When i’m racing the clock, I can’t win or lose, but I try to keep a good time so I can tell myself that I’m still fast.  Which is kind of funny, because I was never really that fast.  I’ve only been running for 9 years, I’m in my 40′s and I never had any formal training.

It’s running.  How much formal fucking training do you need?  I’ve read the books, and the magazines about how to run, where to run, the different types of running (found my favorite word ever reading on this, that word being Fartlek)  And then I read this book by this guy named after my favorite Tennessee whiskey, Jack Daniels.  It is INSANELY complex, or at least daunting, and I give up after about 30 seconds of reading.

Well, maybe you need formal training to become an elite level runner, but to be a middle of the pack runner like me?  Put on running clothes, toss on shoes, grab stopwatch, and go.  Life becomes simpler when you give it a chance to be simple.

– – – – – – – –

As I come up on the side entrance to the park, I am not trying to run super fast, nor am I focused on my stride rate, or length, or anything else like that.  I’m just running, and I’m happy.

I look to my right and I am looking at the park, there is a small playground for kids, though it’s now dark and deserted.  I look to my left and I see the terrain of the golf course, closed for the night,the hills and trees in silhouette.  Cars passing with lights glaring, and stereos thumping steal any chance of peace during this part of the run.  Doesn’t really bother though.

The noise is just that, noise, and there’s always noise of some kind here. Not the noise of a busy urban nightlife, just the sound of traffic, of people going from one place to another.  If you pointed at this place on a map, it would be point C.  Point C is a spot more or less at random between point A and point B, not someplace anyone goes to, in particular.  It’s just a spot on a map, just another part of the journey from where you were to where you want to be.

Beats being nowhere I guess.

It’s point C to me as well, though every point of every run is point C for me.  Points A and B are the same place.  Home.  I was home when I strted, and I want to be home.  Home with my wife after a long days work.  Home with my wife to hear her complain about the things in her life, to help her vent so she can stay sane enough to live her life and do what she needs to be happy.  Home to boast about my run time, or complain about it.  Home to hear about how I smell because of all the sweating I always do.  Home to feed the cats.

But running is a destination as well as a journey.  It’s a nice spot, here running uphill towards the corner of clove and victory. There is no pedestrian foot traffic to speak of, the weather for a January night run isn’t too bad, and despite my knee and my hamstrings acting up before, I feel pretty good right about now.

This place is the place that I am trying to be at when I run. So rather than push harder here I keep the pace I’m at.

I pass what’s called “Stonehenge”, which is an odd name, because there aren’t any giant stone monoliths around, or burial mounds for that matter, and it is inconveniently 3000+ miles away from the nearest henge of any type that I’m aware of.  What it is, is a small building that houses the NYC parks department headquarters for Clove Lakes.

The lights were on, and there were a few people still there, couldn’t tell how many, I was running after all.  A car horn honked as I pass, and reflex kicked in as I yelled “SHOVE THAT HORN UP YER ASS” at whoever it was.  I yell that at everyone who beeps near me when I’m running.  Normally runner’s are very polite people, but I dislike car horns being used that close to me. My hearing is bad enough, I don’t need the extra damage to my hearing, thank you very much.

They paid no never mind.  Passed a few houses before I got to the Dunkin Donuts that used to be a gas station.  As I get to the corner, I touch the green box on the corner on the light pole. Junction box of some kind, methinks.

Check the stopwatch.  21:40.  Not so bad.  Half way home.  Feeling good.

– – – – – – – –

As I make the turn after the half way point,  the traffic at the light is 5 cars or so deep, I glance and see one person looking at me, but the headlights from the other cars in the area make it difficult to see much else.  I am now running in the direction of  the oncoming traffic, and with them being as close as they are to the light most of them really aren’t a problem, it’s the ones that are closing in on the light that shine in my eyes and make it hard to see where I am going.

It is one of the many minor annoyances that comes with running at night.  I’m heading back down the gentle downhill towards stonehenge, and besides the headlights blinding me, there is really not a major lot going on.  My mind begins to wander again, thinking of my work situation, wondering what my wife is doing, singing the song that was, is, and still going through my head to myself.

Thinking of dad.

I wonder if the people where I work even noticed I was missing when I was out at my fathers side.  I wonder how much longer the work assignment will last, being a freelance employee that is a thought that sits heavily upon my mind.  My wife is probably doing what the hell ever she was doing when I left, so that stops me wondering my wondering in that vein.

The Sabbath is flowing through my head, and frankly I am really enjoying it.

I think a few cars have passed me by, I am zoned out at this point.  On auto-pilot as far as how much attention I am paying the outside world.  I am locked in on not only the random thought generator that is my evil ugly head, but keeping my stride rate high and moving with some level of quickness, around 190-195 steps per minute, around 32 or so steps per minute, slightly more than 3 steps per second.

There is something very fun about running zoned out like that.  It is the best downtime, the best stress reducer.  It is the time during any run that comes closest to being a kid and splashing in puddles.  It is let your hair down, scream and shout fun, almost as much fun as a mosh pit when your 22 years old.  It is a place where the hardest running that I can do becomes easy, becomes a place where everything feels good, and the harder I run the better it is.

I hit that spot near the beginning of the smaller hills, and I attack them with gusto.  I push past a few kids that are walking around not paying much attention to anything, walking towards me.  For some reason one of them is actually surprised by me despite the fact I am actually coming at the group.  Some people just don’t pay attention.  The other kids moved out of the way, and I said thank you.  It’s nice when you run into (not literally) people who are nice when you are running.  I’ve run into people who aren’t, and I tend to think of them less as people, and more as targets.

But that’s another story for another time.

I jump up to the sidewalk, which because of the uphill, feels like a  foot and a half high jump.  I know it isn’t that much.  I don’t mind though, I’m a runner, stuff like that comes with the territory.  Jumps are not much of a concern, to be noted and not much else.

More cars, more headlights.  Those headlights are an issue at first, but they become less so as the run goes on.  Looking over the rim of my glasses dead ahead or even slightly askance, away from the street is about the easiest way to avoid it being an issue.  It goes without saying DON’T LOOK AT THE LIGHT, but you don’t have to in order to be affected negatively by the light.

The light can’t pull me out of the zone, any more than the hill can.  I am flying now, and having fun.

– – – – – – – –

And then the tug on my right hamstring pulls me out of my reverie.  Damn thing.  Twice in one run.  I thought I was fine after the pain dissipated before, but apparently not.  Now, it isn’t too bad at first, but it is noticeably. tighter than before  My stride immediately shortens and I slow down just a bit.  The cars seem to have finished passing me by for the moment, giving me the opportunity to snarl and yell “FUCK” as I run.  I am just a hair annoyed at this. There is soreness in an area and there is injury, and having been injured in the past, I do not want to push myself so hard that I take that soreness and turn it into something worse.

There is no way to alter stride to counter a hamstring strain of any variety, from very minor, the kind that will barely be remembered tomorrow morning to the kind that bruises the back of your leg and keeps you from running for a month.  You either keep running, in which case it isn’t bad but could get worse over time, or not, in which case you’re fucked.

This is the first kind luckily.

I passed the other streets without anything of note happening.  Nothing caught my eye, and that is how much of running is when I’m locked in.  I prefer runs that are like that from beginning to end, all runners do.  “Duh!” and other such statements.  These small issues with minor pain here and there really just go to show that even through harder runs there are times when it is good to be a runner.

I am at the cemetery heading back downhill, passing the cemetery entrances.  I have taken my foot off of the gas, and am seeing if slowing down will make the hamstring feel better, or at least less stressed.  If I feel less stressed, maybe I’ll be able to just bull my way through and pick up speed before all is said and done.

My feet hit the ground hard at the second cemetery entrance, and my hamstring absorb the shock.

Not a happy feeling.  The pain shoots straight up the back of my right leg into my butt and lower back.  I don’t stop, but I am gimping along just a bit.  I’ve been worse, but I’ve been better as well.

The step I took at that second entrance was dumb.  I know how to land light on my feet, but still I didn’t do it. I’m a runner dammit, I am supposed to be friggin better than this.   This is goddamn stupid.  From here I practice light stepping.  Landing as lightly on my feet as possible, almost gliding, feet barely leaving the ground on any stride, pushing much harder off from the front of my feet.  It’s a bitch on my calves, but it makes for softer landings and takeoffs.  And that is what I need now.

As I reach the final cemetery entrance, I am just annoyed as hell at myself, still steaming, but being very watchful of surroundings and self.  Glide over the edge of the sidewalk, float up the other side.  Run with my feet skimming a ½ an inch over the sidewalk.  Not pushing hard, but trying to keep the fastest pcae I can keep while playing it safe.

A difficult thing to do at the best of times.

Notice an ambulance in the zoo parking lot as I get near the corner where I turn off of clove road.  I think to myself ” Why did he move?”  They usually park a block or two away.  Doesn’t matter, I wave, toss the moloich at ‘em.  I don’t know that they see me wave at them, or if they wave back, or toss horns at me, or what.  There are no cars at or near the corner as I make the turn onto martling.

A few branches on the ground here get me moving away from them, just to avoid jarring myself too much while running.  The downhill here is jarring enough.  I have less than 2 miles to go, and while the hamstring is still an issue, I’m just going to push through and do what I can to finish.

The wind hits me in the face, and it is a chill wind here, it seems to be a few degrees colder here with the wind coming off of the lake, which has been frozen on and off for the last month and a half.  Even with these warmer temps, it’s been iced over for periods this January, like it is tonight.  As I look to my left, the darkness over the lake and the park are starkly beautiful against the night sky, lending a beauty to the landscape above what it normally has during daylight.

– – – – – – – –

Running downhill with my feet barely leaving the ground, I am moving faster than expected.  This is surprising to me, as I am actually trying to simply minimize foot impact on the ground, trying to keep from jarring myself too much and damaging myself.  Speed here is not the point. I am feeling a little fragile thanks to the hamstring and knee issues, which is also surprising, seeing how I usually feel three shades of invincible when I am out there running, even with minor tweaks of this variety.

Perhaps I need to relax and take a few days off.  After all it has been a long time since I have had any scheduled downtime from running.  I think this as I hit the turn near the park at the lowest point on the run, the lowest point in a topographical sense, about 80 feet above sea level.  The emotional low came a few seconds after I tweaked my hammy the second time.

I think about days off, and laugh.  I can’t take days off.  Not that I’m so crazy about running that I couldn’t take a day off.  I usually have to take off a few days a month, just because of my schedule.  Work commitments, family commitments, that kinda thing.

But take days off without there being a simple lack of time? Because I need a day off?

Please.

I start to move up the hill and again surprised by the speed I am running with.  But then again, I’ve tweaked myself several times this run, I’m frankly surprised that my ass hasn’t tried to fall the hell off.  I pass the hay bales that are positioned not very deftly between the street and the sidewalk for sledders who would want to sled down the hill on my left.

They could have left the stuff in the barn.  It hasn’t snowed significantly all year. Once in October, and once a week and a half ago, and both times the snow was less than 3 inches and had melted within 48 hours.  All it really does is take up space on the sidewalk and give dogs something else to piss on.

One of the street lights seems to not be working as I hit the corner and hit the hill on Slosson, which has on it in part, the steepest uphill of the run.  Pass it without much thought.  I look up, and notice that there are more clouds now than at the beginning of the run.  Not expecting any inclement weather, and not worried about it.  If it rains tomorrow I won’t fret none about it tonight.  It’s a bit chilly but not too bad.  After 30 some odd minutes out on the path, I am ready to lose the Rangers hoody.

I don’t though.  It is one of my favorite pieces of run clothing, I’d just as soon toss my run shoes, or my cookies as toss it.  The uphill is something I barely think about, despite beginning to feel a tug at the back of my right hamstring.  I just keep my nose to the grindstone and go.

There is a collection of twigs and other small branches at the employees entrance to the park, where all the truck  and employees pull in to gas up their vehicles, and park when they aren’t cleaning or working at the park.  Guess a truck dropped a little of it’s payload on the way into the garage.

No worries, go around it and the mud that has settled into a mess at the edge of the storm drain near there, pass the dog walker with her little white poodle like dog, whose owner is trying to keep the white poodle from getting into the mud and dragging it all over her nice clean carpet.  Schotzie is the name of the dog, I believe that is what she called the poor poofy thing.

Schotzie was more interested in the smells that the area provided than the carpet of her human, whose job as far as she is concerned is to feed and groom her, in return Schotzie takes her human out for exercise, and also to have the privilege of watching Schotzie piss and shit.  I giggle as that thought runs through my mind, and wave to both dog and human, who were kind enough to move aside when I came towards them.

I look ahead to see if there are any more dogs or humans on the paths.  Nothing for the next minute or so, so I take up trying to remember what my time was at my last turnaround point in an attempt to calculate what time I should get to the next turnaround point.  If I am doing well, I should be able to run the entire section in about 14:40 or so, making my projected turnaround time, at least for a decent pace, at 36:20.  But with my hamstring as it is, a 37:40 would be almost acceptable. I’d prefer a faster time, but I’m not expecting it.

I get near the sign at the pediatricians office, and am not surprised to hear horns blaring at the corner, more because the street light the city put here last year is a complete nuisance.  People run it all the time, and nearly cause accidents every day, and once in a while do cause actual accidents, because the people who run the lights don’t think anyone is looking or paying attention.

Which is surprisingly true, because the stupid bastards who run the lights generally don’t look or pay attention.

It was only an annoyance this time, not an accident.  I pass it with my usual “SHOVE THAT HORN UP YER ASS”  Which is this runners way of saying “HI!” to the noisy drivers.

– – – – – – – –

I hit the second half of the hill after the right turn and feel the hill get harder, I have to push significantly harder on this section just to maintain my pace, and that is just what I do, maintain.  After three minor tweaks during the run, I will not chance a major one.

I pass the second house on the block and notice the auto timer has turned on their security system, as the lights to the front yard go on as I pass the front portion of the house across from where the front door is.  This happens every time I pass by their house after 8:00 pm, or before 6:00am.  Good to know their security conscious, but if I can notice that, so can a crook.

The house is nice, even if the external security seems giggle-worthy.  Then I have to run the garbage can gauntlet.  I ran past them on the way down, and it is just as much of an obstacle course on the way down.  The same as when I passed them in the other direction, but this time I have the added pleasure of running the gauntlet while running uphill.  No more difficult (except that it is uphill), just another nuisance  on a less than perfect run night.

Pass the garbage cans, with a snide comment about ,like Sidewalks are for walking, not garbage you idiots, wanting to come out should anyone from these houses come out.  I would not use it, but I’d keep it in my head and think it, wave and say “Hi!”  Which doesn’t happen either.

They stay inside, I keep going.

The hill is remarkably easy this time around and I am not questioning it.  But I think I know why.  There’s a few reasons, one the wind seems to have died down, it is negligible at this point. I after having done in my hammy twice am feeling like not much more can happen, outside of some kind freakish accident.  And I am feeling refreshed, not a second wind, I haven’t used up my first yet, but I’m feeling good about being where I am, like I usually do at this point in the run.

Cracks in the sidewalk, which garnered my attention before, barely grabs it now.  The car parked around the bend just uphill from where I am gets more attention.  It looks familiar from a distance, and I gaze at it curiously, if furtively while hitting the long curve onto Royal Oak road.  As I get closer though, any resemblance to the vehicles of anyone I know or would recognize dissipates to nothing.

Some dog walker that is walking two small dogs on my left near the paved walkway entrance to the park holds his dogs back and waits for me to go through.  I think I’ve seen this guy before.  I can’t remember if it was tonight or not, so I keep my head down and go.  The wind began to pick up just a little bit as I passed, but not so much that it did what most wind does, which is inspire me to push harder.  It was a breeze more than a wind really, and for all that I sometimes bitch about wind and weather, after a while, you get used to it.

Ya kinda have to, don’t ya?

My right hamstring is little more than a minor nuisance now, I’ve nearly forgotten my knee issue and I decide that a big push will come but not until I get to the end of this section of the run, which is now about 2 minutes away.  I am breaking a serious sweat and I like it.

I look up to the sky momentarily thinking of dad and sing to myself  Everybody’s looking at me/ Feeling paranoid inside/  When I step outside I feel free/ think I’ll find a place to hide.  I love that song, and it’s been there on and off for the entire run, which, again, is normal for me, just singing a song that’s in my head while I run.  It makes the time go faster, and Am I going insane is a good pace song.

I pass a parked cabbie, livery car driver actually, parked near to my turnaround point.  Same guy is there a few nights a week.  He does his crossword puzzle or whatever section of the paper he’s reading, oblivious to the world, and everything in it, except his coffee and his paper.

I hit the turnaround point, look at the watch 37: something or other.  Can’t quite read it, but I think it said 21.  I’ll take a 37:21.

The wind which was with me for a second on the uphill hits me full force as I make the turnaround, for the trip home.  I like that.  I always push hard into a hard wind.  My strides are getting longer as I run harder towards home, and while I am still running with my feet still barely scraping the ground, I am striding faster as well.  Over 190 steps per minute here, and the world for a minute becomes a blur, wind makes it hard to focus on anything but the wind, so I keep my head down and keep my eyes on the path itself, and just chug along, as fast and as hard as I can.

I ignore the cars that are now going by, ignore the dog walker walking his two dogs who I pass again on the way downhill.  I am trying to make up for lost time.

I can feel my heart rate rising as I hit top gear, or as close to it as I get on a regular nights run.  Sidestep several branches and the overstep the cracks and breakages in the sidewalk, and focus one one thing.

Home.  I just want to get home.

At the top of the hill where Royal oak  Road becomes Rice Ave, I see the light at the base of the hill has just turned green.  Which is a good thing for me.  The way I have this run timed, and I have done this a ton of times, If it is green facing me when I am at the top of the hill, by the time I get to the light, It will have gone through one complete cycle, and I will not have to stop and wait for traffic.

Nice.

Zooming down the hill like there is a cop behind me and I’ll go to jail forever if he catches me.  And I like it, the feel of speed, of pure… adrenaline isn’t the right term, but it kinda feels like an adrenaline rush, without the harsh negative emotional and physical effects of it.

Flying.  Hit the light at  40:30.  My hamstring has stopped talking to me, and I like it.  Knee is fine.  I am running down the middle of the street, there are no cars coming that I can tell, and I concentrate on looking at my feet as I run.  Curious thing to do, but I do it here.  My feet are moving very fast, I can no longer keep the Sabbath song as my pace song.  I’m moving to quick for it.  I make a left hand turn at fairview, and there are two trucks parked side by side, taking up most of the street.  I run past, ignore them.  Look right as I prepare to turn left.

Nothing coming that way, headlights from my left though. Too far away to have to worry about though, so I don’t.  I begin to lose the breath to body link, no longer able to keep my breathing  at the right ration, 2 steps for one breath, and start panting as I run.

Almost home.  I’m pressing with all the energy I can muster.  I know I can keep the pace for the rest of the run.  I’m smiling as I’m panting as I’m flying and it is just great. Best feeling in the world.  This is why I run, to let it all hang out at moments like this.  I make the turn onto governor and the wind hits me hard again one final time on the home stretch. I don’t mind.  It likes to hit me here, does it almost every day at the end of my run, as if to say “Good run, see ya tomorrow.”

I know it’ll be more of the same tomorrow.    The final 30 seconds.  I tell myself to be careful crossing the street here as I get near home.  There is a street I cross just before I come home, and I don’t wanna get flattened just before I finish the run, any more than I wanna get flattened anywhere else.  There are headlights at the top of the hill, just the same as there were when I started the run as I cross that section of road.  No cars coming down the street like when I left.

Cross the finish at 43:40.29 for my 5.62 miles run.  Not a bad time. I made up some time on that final hard push.

I am pretty happy with the effort.  About five seconds after I stop I start my cool down, just walking up the street, blow my nose, spit, cough, hiccup.  I get the hiccups and cough like crazy after every hard run during the winter months.  If it was October or May I wouldn’t but during the winter I do.  Cold makes me do it.  Always fun.

I don’t mind though.

I look up, and my wife is still not at the window, but the lights are still on, just as they were.  The street lights are still shining dimly, but now they are shining on my heavily sweat stained hooded sweatshirt, and on sweat soaked gloves and hat and me.  I’m coughing, hiccuping, and smiling.

Good run.