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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Autumn "Long" Run

As if scheduled with the coming of Labor Day, a blustery wind blew into the High Country on Friday afternoon. Those around here know this means a change of weather is here for a spell. So, as the calendar tells us it is not quite fall, the air speaks another truth. One of brisk breezes, comforting aromas and gentle rays of sunshine.

Sunday morning I took to the Watauga River Rd for a relaxing "longish" run. Since I am aiming at a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot Half Marathon, (and the Xterra Nats in 2 weeks.) the plan was to get in about 80 minutes of duration, maybe progressing downward in pace as the steps mounted... we'd wait and see- not force anything to occur.

Blink of an Eye
Leaving the car behind I set out, upriver on a chilly morning. I had contemplated wearing gloves for the start as I was quite cold that morning. This speaks more to the relatively hot summer we have had. The body has adjusted to running in 85-90 degree heat, so the 50 degree morning was a mild shock to the skin.

Within a mile I was shedding the top (removing the band aids too... don't wanna forget that;) ) and enjoying the briskness of evaporative cooling in early autumn air! What a sweet relief. The splits were amazingly slow to begin but I was happy to give my legs 4 miles to ease into anything faster- if at all. The main goal being time on the feet, time at aerobic levels communing with devloping mitochondria.

As with all things in tune with the Universe, I was soon chased by a little dog. The not-so-little-owner of this dog made a feeble attempt to "re-call" his pup. When this pathetic "control" tactic failed he just hollared to me, "she won't bother you..."

I muttered, "She already has..." but then realized upon the end of her chase that she had allowed me to find a nice gear to run the next four miles or so in. Adversity is Opportunity.

Now settled into tempo pace I was feeling more crisp and more alive! Cruising down along this quiet river road away from any distractions... just me and my little brain!! What a morning. There was a snaggle-toothed dog to converse with, a large flock of early-moving Candian Geese cruising above the winding river and then even a little hill to ramp along on and open the airways a little bit more before the turn around point.

Watauga County, NC

Same Road, New Trip
As any runner knows, the return trip is always a completely different experience though you are travelling the same bit of Earth. This phenomenon is odd when you try to pin it down. We know it has something to do with perspective, space and time and our finicky mood at that moment... some kind of cosmic blend causing a synergy which seeps into parts of us we just then discover.

This return brought me down to half marathon pace, then 10k effort and finally a nice half mile at 5k effort. I hit my split, and backed off the pace in the still cool shade of Sunday morning.

Roll Over Into the Cool Side of the Universe
With the hard work done for the morning the 4 mile jog back to the car was all that was ahead of me now. I could now meander about, observing the shapes of clouds high in the sky, spotting a field of cattle chewing their morning cellulose, spotting a family of deer across the bank as they bound through the high grass and into the forest across the Flow.

We can give all sorts of names to things, it helps with conversation. But knowing you are in the right place at the right time there is no need for a word, it would cheapen The Experience.


  1. excellent post.

    loving the last two sentences. awesome.

  2. To get that feeling, I will usually make sure my out route is into the wind. It is cheating, but it sure helps if I am exceptionally tired. I do love that feeling of cruising into the barn when I get close to the finish point.

    Good post Sean.

  3. Ah yes, removing the ever important band aids. When I ran Chicago one of the years it was 90+ degrees, I took my shirt of for 5 or 6 miles and didn't take them off.... I Had tan lines the entire summer.


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