Monday, November 24, 2014

Hills. Thoughts. Atmosphere.

Hill repeats Saturday morning on Snow's Cut Bridge. Six of them at an average pace of 6:25- 6:30 per mile (at a length of about .35- .40 miles). Took the down parts easy this time. Trying mechanically to stay smooth and fluid... focused as well once the lactic acid starts to flood my legs about half way into each repeat. Running them all one at a time mentally. Breaking each one into sections... using the "lines" on the bridge partitions, or spray painted markings on the sidewalk.  Or metal attachments on the railings. Reminding myself each time to run thru the tape. Half way thru I started to recall something I had read in a magazine article... but just as quickly that train of thought evaporated.

During one of the latter reps I thought about the chocolate milk and cookies I consumed the night before... and nearly started to puke. So I mildly rebuked myself for lack of dietary control.

But sometimes it best not to think. And just run. Maybe that's why so many of us do this. There's enough thinking to be done in the other parts of our days.

Though there are runs where a particular situation lies in my mind in a certain fashion... but by the end of the run it has shifted noticeably to some other state. Usually for the better. Why...?

Monday and its warm, humid... quite breezy and almost tropical like for late fall. I headed back to state park woods after briefly debating running an 8 mile course down into Kure Beach. There's a bit of an electricity in the air... barely noticeable, but there. Those of us who are more in tune with mother nature tend to revel in such observations. Like later when I see my friend Jimmy at the beach watching the churned up ocean's waves... commenting on where it'll be best to surf. 

Run wise though I feel a little lethargic body wise... a bit heavy. So I discard the notion of running faster and instead settle into a comfortable mid eight minute mile pace. The woods are wet and some sections of the trails water logged. What a glorious day though to be out running.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cold November

More cold weather running the past week. Even put on long pants a few days. Which may have caused me to trip over a metal wire that crosses one of the off road entrance points I use to run back into the CB State Park. I guess I didn't properly adjust the height of my jump to compensate for the extra weight and pull of said track pants. (sometimes as I approach I do think of my steps and timing the same way a hurdler counts steps between hurdles or a basketball player does approaching the hoop for a dunk).  Nevertheless I ended up with a nice little bloody gash on my left shin. 

Patti came down to Chappelle Park to be trained in speed work. I didn't tell her about the gash. But I did break off two 400s. The first in sub 1:20, and then a 1:25 to show her how its done. Complete with explanations of the changes in my breathing, and lactic acid build up in my legs.  Later my hip area was a little sore I think from trying to run too fast in the damn pants.

The previous Sunday I ran a 3+ mile tempo on Snow's Cut Bridge. Four times...or two complete trips over and back. Pleasantly surprised I put down 3.07 miles in under 20 minutes. Closed in a hi 5 pace. Dry heaved a bit on the second trip across near the top of the bridge (going into the wind). Three runners passed on the other side of the bridge which I think was part of an unofficial 55 mile ultra going on that day. We exchanged waves.  My friend Bert yelled to me from his van.

Put down 1:47 in run time Thursday morning. Inner island trails and then back to the state park trails. Ran out of the state park again, down along the Cape Fear river on the trails that eventually lead to Kure Beach. Have enjoyed re-discovering this area, but also cognizant of the fact that technically I'm trespassing and therefore I remain a little more alert to my surroundings. Last week I did hear men out working up towards where the town has its maintenance facilities... but I didn't get close enough for anyone to see me. Then again I'm not sure if they'd care.

Went back out again in the late afternoon after a core workout of sit-ups and planks. Cut down 4 miler on the inner island trails, with the last mile on Lake Park Blvd. Closed in a 6:16 mile... controlled harder pace. Felt good... had a decent amount of pop in my legs.

Met Brandon back at the state park today for an hour long run. Enjoying some of fall foliage that we do get around here. Me telling him about how beautiful it is in Pennsylvania for a few weeks in October. Him telling me about Asheville. Took him down and out of the state park as well (disclaimer: I did mention there was a very slight chance we could be arrested). He stopped out there and took a leak while we were discussing Jason Avant being cut by the Panthers.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lost in the woods

Been starting to incorporate a longer run about once a week into my routine again.  Running by time and not by distance... extending it out by 5-10 minutes etc. per week. Wearing my ten dollar wrist watch on such runs as to not have any inclination to think about pace.

Such runs also serve a dual function in that they let me sort of escape for awhile from the vicissitudes of life. Which I choose to do so in the sanctuary of the woods. Today its on the inner island trails and the state park trails in Carolina Beach

I get lost in the variances of the trail, the changes in vegetation, the sounds of animals. A deer appears up ahead and then bounds off and away deeper into the forest and out of site. Later I come upon a gathering of black crows... chattering and noisy as usual, but not in an kind of bothersome way.  They take flight as I approach...

On parts of the trails down along the Cape Fear River towards Kure Beach I etch crosses in the sand at certain intersections... just a reminder if need be to turn on my way back. I think about occasionally coming across other markings, lines etc along trails and wonder who put them there and why. Many years ago someone had written out Merry Christmas (or maybe Happy Holidays) with pine cones on one of the trails. I was pleasantly surprised that it lasted there for many days.

Parts of the trail are narrow, deer like trails that I must duck around and under vegetation at times. The colors now are getting a bit duller, but still quite pretty in their simplicity. Before I almost know it, its time to head home, back onto the roads, back into civilization.

The machinery of it all may be exactly as I left it... but that's ok. I know where I can go again tomorrow and the next day, and the next... 

Monday, November 3, 2014


Colder weather running returned the past 2 days. Temps in the 30s and 40s. Had to put on a beanie and gloves for the first time since last spring. Always something ritualistic like though when coming upon that first run of the season where we  dress different... ie a knit hat/ gloves... or conversely that first shirt-less run. The passage of time can be measured, and the approach of new seasons can be gauged by the clothes donned to run.

Sunday morning and I take notice to how crystalline blue the sky looks... literally cloudless as well. Contrasted against the hues of green atop the pine trees in the woods. Internally I smile in the presence of Mother Nature's art work. I  recall some lines of Jim Morrison's poetry... give us an hour to let us perform our art and perfect our lives... or something to that effect. Steve Prefontaine once called races works of art that can effect people in more ways than they can comprehend.

I think about expectations. And striving with the help of a higher power to have less and less of. 'Peace is possible only when we let go of expectations" is a favorite quote of mine. And the wisdom passed on by running coach Joe Vigil to ask nothing from your running... and you'll get more than you ever imagined.

Out here some days all of this seems possible. Spiritually we are without limits. Growth occurs with every step forward, no matter the speed or the terrain. Monday as I lope along a well traveled part of one of the CB State Park trails,  I try to just listen to and be consciously aware of the gentle thwapping of my sneakers on the dirt and pine straw... and the rhythm of my breathing. There's a certain cadence to it, and its like one is keeping time for the other. This of course soon passes as thoughts inevitably pop into my head. But as I look up at the liquid clear blue sky... again almost cloudless... I give thanks for another precious hour spent doing what I love to do.