What a lovely week for running! Actually, I went kind of light on the running until today due to the temperatures and travel. I did a couple of outdoor runs early in the week. I kept them short (under 5mi ea) because I am really trying to limit the time spent running on roads. I did a couple of days of Nordic indoors. I popped down to Orlando on business Wed-Fri. So on Thursday I had my first ridiculously sweaty run of 2012 along International Drive (Ave.?)in 80F weather. It was wonderful. Friday I took the day off from running (because I knew I was going to go long on Sat) and swam a mile in the pool in the evening after the return flight. It was my first time back in the water since injuring my knee with poison ivy and (possibly) staph a couple of weeks ago. I found the return to the pool to be singularly relaxing and enjoyable.
So Saturday reared its head as I arose from my way-too-comfortable bed at 5:30. I'm sticking with my no caffeine unless I'm on a run pledge pretty well. But I do kind of fumble around in the morning a bit more as my neurons take a bit of extra time to fully sync up. An hour and a half later, I was fully sorted, with clothes, a packet of Sharkies vegan organic sport chews, GU Brew in my water bottle, and hemp powder and a banana (for post race refuel) all loaded in my Element. I figured that there would be 9 or 10 hearty souls who would show up at the River Trails to knock out the 13 miles that mirrored the Pi Day race course for the event that would be held in a couple of weeks. My attendance estimate, as it turned out, was waaaaay off. I don't know exactly how many people showed, but it was certainly between 20 and 30. It was great to see my blogging buddy, Indi there, as well as my Heartland 100 volunteer buddy, Jacob.
We set off in a couple of groups, the gazelles and the ponies. I went with the Gazelles, who managed to keep about a 30 yard lead over the ponies for the first loop. We were ably-led, but a bit un-gazelle like. For the second 5 mile loop, we ran the course backward. And by 'backward' as you know from previous posts, I do not mean that we ran with our backs in front, looking over our shoulders in order to keep from tripping. I mean we ran the loop in the opposite direction. I love running the course that way, because the trail seems completely new. You know what is coming up, but you have never (or rarely) addressed the hills and turns from that direction.
The moment the second loop ended, I and a fellow by the name of Jeff (Geoff?) Beecher took off instantly for the third, and final loop. Between the first and second loop, there had been a pause while everyone re-outfitted due to the weather conditions (cold and windy), with some losing some gear, while others added. Jeff and I (and a couple of others, as it turns out) had started to freeze during the brief hiatus, and for the third lap had planned to just go immediately into it.
So we took off at an agreed-to slightly quicker pace and were joined within the first mile by 3-5 others who had also just turned around at the loop's inception. At the turnaround point for the final loop, a few members of our group went on in order to seek greater glory, with runs of 15 - 22 miles. But 4 of us turned and headed for home. I was the leader and offered to let anyone who wanted to pop out in front take a turn, or simply run off, but no one did. The final 1.5 mi of the run were the fastest we had done by a good margin. It was nice that we all finished the run with a kick still available.
Upon concluding the run, there was an inspection of the back of Gary Henry's truck. The four of us determined that there were at least 3 pies in a cooler in the bed of his Tacoma. Blueberry, peach, cherry, and maybe something else. Since I am still trying to lose some weight from the gain that occurred after knee surgery, I demurred (with regret), said my goodbyes, and drove off into the bright light of day.
I love being a Trail Hawk. Today reminded me of the feeling of camaraderie, and friendships that develop from being around folks with a shared passion.
I mentioned a couple of people in this post who have blogs or websites.
For Indi's blog, cut and paste and go here: http://indisjournal.blogspot.com/
For Gary Henry's blog (which should have a pic up of the Pi Day pre-run group in a day or two), go here: www.ultrastory.com