Monday, November 1, 2010

A Cold, the Cold, and a New Park to Run in

This should be a short post this week. Should be, but you never know... After the run a week ago, Sunday, I came down with a crappy little head cold. I ended up taking Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off from smacking the pavement. I returned to the road on Thursday for a whimpering 2 miler. It was the first chilly run I had done this year (other than Boston). Friday I dragged through my usual early 4 miler. It was faster than the day before, but not good if you're looking at your watch for improvement. I tried to set up a Saturday, a.m. run with my buddy, Eric, but he had spent the whole week sick with the same cold as well. So he took a pass.

Friday night, I did something I hadn't done in ages. I took out my blender and made sheets of paper on screens that I had constructed out of picture frames and coat hangers earlier in the week. I had wanted to get back into making paper for some time, but just hadn't (you know how it is). For the first run, I was just experimenting with thickness. The frames didn't hold up too well, but I did manage to get some nice, if uneven, sheets. As I progress on this endeavor, I'll make some periodic reports on how it goes with adding color and other textures.

Saturday arrived with a bit of a nippy wind. I waited until about 8:30 before heading out the door in a jacket, a shirt and shorts. I had picked a route that is anywhere from 8.5 to 11 miles. I choose it if I want the option to bail at any given point. I actually felt pretty good at the 3.5 mile mark, so I made the decision to continue on toward the dam at Clinton. There were no other runners once I hit the SLT path. I ran alone for two-ish miles up the gently sloping field toward the lake, and then where it turns north toward Lecompton. About halfway through the section that is bordered by Clinton Pkwy on one end and 6th St on the other, I started meeting cyclists. It was odd, because there was an abundance of them. Now an aside...

I used to bike a lot. I particularly liked to ride long distances on my road bike - a great Specialized Sequoia. Every now and then, I'd be way out on the SLT, the Farmer's Turnpike, or the Kaw River Levee (that last one on my Cannondale MB400) and I'd see a lone runner. While I liked what I was doing on the bike in terms of effort, I always thought that the runner out there in the middle of nowhere, with nothing save shorts and shoes was somehow...well, badass. These days, as much more of a runner than a cyclist, I am always internally pleased when I run into bikes in the countryside. Because in my mind, I'm now the badass that I used to admire. And its odd, because it doesn't seem like all that big a deal when I'm just out running. But there is always some kind of inner flicker of accomplishment that courses through me when I encounter the athletes of the two-wheeled variety.

OK, back to the story... So I cranked through the last 4-5 miles of the run, and felt great. I hadn't set any speed records. But I also didn't have any muscle or joint pain, no feeling of stiffness, no apparent lactic acid buildup, and no shortness of breath. Eric and I traded texts, and we agreed to meet on Sunday for a 5-6 mile run in the morning.

When Sunday rolled around, it was cold. I had a jacket, two shirts, and shorts over long pants. Eric had a couple of shirts and a pair of shorts. We discussed bringing gloves, but finessed them in favor of letting our hands warm up as we ran. I wanted to do an exploratory run down Wakarusa to 15th St, and then turn west and try to find the grass start of some trails and paths I had heard about. This turned out not to be too hard to do. After a quarter to half a mile on 15th, we came to two mown grassy areas that seemed to lead off into a wooded area bordering a neighborhood. We took the first one. And, after crossing the same stream twice, ended up on the trails that make up Fred DeVictor Park. Stupid me, I didn't realize that that was where Fred's Park was located. I have played tennis with Fred (Lawrence's esteemed former Director of Parks and Rec) on most Saturdays for the past fifteen years. I had been out of town when the park was dedicated a few years ago, and had never bothered to figure out exactly where it was. Well, I'm pleased to report that Fred has a nice park with an awesome path that stretches on for miles through some of Lawrence's western neighborhoods. Eric and I ran a couple of miles of the trails before heading back to my house for some coffee and conversation.

When the run was over, I felt pretty tired. I had put in over 16 miles in a couple of days while still a bit under the weather. It didn't help that Eric and I had finished the run with a sprint finish (because we apparently are that stupid). So I spent the rest of the day taking a bath, a nap, reading, and then watching a documentary about Fred Lebow - the NYC Marathon impresario. All in all, it was a nice weekend.

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