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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

By Moon Shadow and Star Light

Ten days ago I took a few jagged step out my door with the hope that I was running again... Off the porch and crunching along the gravel drive I was cautious and hopeful. As I swept left onto the countryside road my heart rate was already leaping to its max, seemingly. In no time I reached half a mile and turned for home one mile done... no pain all gain! Test one finished...

Winter Sunset
Over the next week or so I was able to get out for progressively longer runs without complication. 1.5 miles...okay, 2 miles okay! and then 4 miles, all at once and feeling almost comfortable and not really challenged, ALRIGHT!! These runs each followed by a Rungeon bike and lifting session and detailed previously. Total time 60 mins give or take.

Time for a Challenge
Two nights ago I was on the bike, peddling away, pushing hard, lifting more and feeling that urge inside to go (not to the bathroom...) out onto the road and RUN!!! Last night I arrived home for family time, played with Sylas, got the little man dinner and off to bed just after 8pm... (my new workout time).

With empty stomach and tentative hope I laced up, dredged out a headlamp from my pile of neglected gear and walked toward the front door.

"Where should I look for you?" asked Lynnea... as is customary, especially on night runs.
"Timbered Ridge loop," I blurted... now committed to a climbing 7.5 miler.
"Really? Are you sure?"
"I'll give it a shot... give me 90 minutes and then come looking for me."

It's the Final Count Down!!!
Out the door I stepped. The thermometer read 35 but with the crystallizing feeling in the air... the crispness of an arctic freeze I reconsidered my clothing. A single long sleeve, billed reflective cap, gloves... I stopped and considered going for more protection from potential ridge top wind. Trusting the crystal clear twinkling starlight skies, I moved forward with my warm up mile.

Another "Long" Run
I approached this 7.5 miles as a long run because... that's what it was! Nearly equaling last week's mileage in fact. So, slow and steady was the plan. Reaching the base of the climb at 1.75 miles in 15 minutes wasn't going to make any headlines. I settled into climbing mode and slowly made my way up about 800 feet over the next 1.65 miles. Grade? you can put a number on it if you wish. I'll just be pleased with having run up this monster which tests my conditioning even during peak training!

Climbing in the void of nighttime and starlight I had the very real sensation of elevating into the sky. My legs were stiffening and my breathing was deep (but not rushed) as I moved upward and forward from porch light to porch light. Clicking the headlamp on as I approached the sparsely populated mountainside but the majority of steps were made by the light of a waxing gibbous.

Give Us This Day, Our Daily Peak
Somewhere around 32 minutes I reached the top of the climb. All around me were rolling fields of grapevines or cattle. The cattle startled and stood to investigate. I could vaguely make out a ton of dark shadow and two beady red dots staring back at me. Intermittent sparks flew from the electric fence and I wondered what was causing this discharge? At about 25 degrees up here there was nothing stirring... maybe dust? or is this a common effect?

I looked forward to the next few miles. From here I had flat and rolling downhill on packed gravel roads. With headlamp out I settled into a steady pace on such a still night. I love the crispness in the air of winter. Even within the constraints of my current fitness level the winter air can make you feel like an athlete, can lend a rhythm to your movement and a clarity of thought not found in the more humid times of the year.

Moon Shadows
Descending from the meadows I reached the forested areas and now the moonlight was filtered through the skeletons of tree tops. I picked my footfalls carefully discerning unevenness in the road from the superficial webs of moon shadows. I began feeling a bit of an ache in my left foot... I had expected some tightness at some point from fatigue... but this was a tad alarming with 3 miles of downhill running to go. Was I running too cautiously?

My training plan for June's Race has goals written at the top:
Some of those goals are Double Top Secret... but the approach is as much of a goal as anything, in fact more so. Keys: Climbing Endurance and Downhill Tempo

With one key addressed for the day it was time for part two... Downhill Tempo. Time to stop holding my mass back from going downhill and just run down the damned hill.

Within 2 minutes the crankiness in my left ankle dissipated and I found the long hidden, open, powerful stride. Now, of course, I was running downhill in the dark... if you can't feel this way under these conditions then you aren't going to... not any time soon anyway.

As I moved downhill I soaked in this feeling of freedom of movement, the gliding along with crisp air sliding over my rosy cheeks. No more thoughts of worry... is it too cold? is this too demanding? am I going to hold up? None of that. For the first time since early November I was just moving my body with seemingly no effort, driving efficiently under my own power toward a daily goal and the goal that sits on an unseen horizon.

I turned back into my driveway gently slowing to a trot then stepped onto our porch. With a push of my Timex the run officially ended in 63 minutes. A challenge that I was looking for completed.

Happy Running!


  1. Nice to hear of your continued progress toward running more Sean!

  2. I sure do enjoy your writing style... you make me want to run that loop


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