Normally I slog around for thirty or forty or whatever minutes, look at the same houses, stare at the same road, and think about how slow I am ;). This past Sunday, though, came alive with buzzards, biting dogs, baseballs, speed signs, killer trucks and little girls in the muck. I headed out the door with only a general idea of the length and route I intended to run. All I knew was that I had to be back in an hour for a Cub Scouts den meeting. My legs were dead from the previous day, previous week, previous two months work. I thought maybe I would run three miles, or five, or one, all very easy. I started aimlessly around the block, then to the next subdivision. I think I’ll go that way, no this way, back the other way, whatever.
A couple of miles in to the run a border collie dashed out of his yard, teeth flashing, bark yelping. I ran to the other side, heart rate jumping. He followed me and snapped at my calves. I Deion Sanders’d high-stepped down the street. He kept biting at my shoes. I thought about kicking him in the maw, and maybe he read my mind because he finally backed off.
A mile later I saw a big buzzard in the road gnawing on roadkill directly ahead. I would have to run by the buzzard within about five feet. Gross. I wanted to cross the road before I got to where it was was, but there was traffic coming behind me. Just as I passed the big ugly bird a truck drove by and the vulture jumped into a low flight right towards my head. Have you ever seen a buzzard up close? One that had bloody roadkill on it’s beak? Flying at your face? It’s a spectacularly gnarly-looking creature, languid in flight, menacing in features. I hit the ground on all fours, the buzzard went overhead a couple of feet and the truck screeched to a halt. The driver looked dumbfounded as I just rose and continued my run. Luckily, I think it only affected my pace by a couple of seconds (I’m joking!).
Another mile and I picked up a brand new baseball in the middle of the street. From then on I would get odd looks as I bounced the ball off the road or tossed it in the air while I ran. I think there is actually a world record for fastest marathon while juggling. Something like 3:22? I can juggle but I only had one ball. Normally I have two balls. Sometimes I have three balls.
A truck nearly hit me rounding a corner.
Coming down a little hill and there is one of those digital speed signs that show how much you are speeding in your car. It often registers when I’m on my bike, but I haven’t ever gotten it to mark me while running. This day, however, it flashed “8 mph” as I approached. Woo!
Half-mile later and I took a trail off the road in a little preserve that I’ve never explored before (How trite would it be to say that the trail later diverged, and I took the path less traveled, and that made all the difference?). The big rains left the little nearby meadows full of water and I was happy to see two little girls searching for bugs or worms or just playing in the muddy overflow. You hardly ever see that these days, kids allowed to go exploring more than 20 feet from their house. We know families that drive their kids to scheduled play dates a few houses away. As I ran by one girl yelled, “Hey dude! Way to go!” I waved and wandered on through the trails.
A few minutes in I realized I was running out of time before the Cub Scout meeting. I picked up the pace. The Pod read 6:30/mile and I couldn’t find my way out. 6:00/mile and still not out of the preserve. Hmmm, nice trails though, will have to return. At this point I’m sub-6 and a couple miles from home. I tromp through an overflow basin, mud up to ankles, shoot through a shortcut in an adjacent park and make my way home, quads screaming.
So my boring Sunday jog turned into an entertaining 8-mile progression run and this was the blog about it. Wow.
Often I just head out the door thinking “I’ll run for 35 minutes and call it four miles,” and I’ll end up zig-zagging around the neighborhood for 45 minutes and call it five miles. I always calculate my easy runs at 8 minute miles and round the mileage down. 5.8 miles becomes 5 miles, 6.2 becomes 6, 3.28 becomes 3, etc. So if I run for 25 minutes I just call it 3 miles, even if I ran at 7:45 pace and the actual mileage was 3.2 miles or whatever.
Last week after the Hero 5K I did mile repeats. They were not as fast as my 5K pace but they felt infinitely harder. Why is that? Rest of the week was pretty non-descript (fartlek, Saturday on the trail, ton of 8-minute miles around the hood, etc.).
Yesterday was Wilke and I just had to match Joshua. It was hard. My legs are big leaden slugs these days. But I want to be fresh for Chuys 5K and Congress Avenue Mile. Any advice?
Pat and Andre sent a plumber my way. Have they linked to this video of him and his 35 year old cats? A South Austin original.