Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Visit To Some Old Friends

I visited a couple of old friends this morning.
In my effort to eliminate the few extra pounds that have accumulated around my middle since I stopped running last year, I have attempted to do a little more exercise.
The problem for me is that my job requires a bit of physical effort and that leaves me tired when I come home each afternoon, and thus, not in the mood for more exercise.
Unfortunately, the effort required to make me tired each day seems not to be enough to burn enough calories to keep the blubber from building up.

Eat less you say?
I am working on that, too.
Fewer carbs, smaller portions, etc.
And a couple of weight workouts during the week whether I feel like it or not.
And walking a few days a week.

Anyway, last Saturday morning I visited a section of the Cotton Row Run 10K course to do a walk.
This section of road is called Bankhead Parkway, and is about three-quarters of a mile long and climbs about 177 feet.
In the race we run down this section of road.
Last Saturday I walked UP Bankhead Parkway.
It was good to see this portion of the old running course again.
Not much had changed in the two years since I stopped running on it.
It took me about thirty minutes to walk up the hill and back down; about what I had planned.
I was a bit disappointed that it did not tire me as much as I expected.

So, this morning I decided to kick it up a notch.
Hence, the visit with a couple of old friends.
One friend is the Cotton Row course.
For some reason, I love this challenging path.

The other friend I visited with this morning was running.
I ran this morning, for the first time in over a year.
And I ran UP Bankhead Parkway.
Something I have never done.

I am not a complete idiot, so I did not push myself too hard.
I took it easy on my pace and just concentrated on my form and breathing.
I was fairly sure that I could not run the whole mountain, so the game was to see how far I could go before the effort became uncomfortable.
I got about halfway up the hill before I stopped.
Frankly, I was pleased and surprised.
When I got to the intersection of Bankhead and Toll Gate Road, a more level section, I began running again.
I ran the quarter of a mile until I came to Mountainwood Drive.

This is “The Hill” – an “S” shaped street about one-tenth of a mile long that climbs about 90 feet at a twenty-two degree angle.
It is as steep as a roof.
In the race, we run (or walk) UP this hill.

Anyway, this morning, I stopped running at Mountainwood, and walked down The Hill, turned around and walked back up.
It was good to see the rough concrete surface of the old butt buster again.
Then, when I again reached Toll Gate Road, I began running once more.
Now I was running the course in the same direction I used to.
It felt so good.

The memories came flooding back.
It was about the same time in the morning that I used to run the course (6 to 7 AM)
The low sun was shining through the pale green leaves in the big trees.
The morning air was cool but humid.
When I got to Bankhead Parkway again, I starting down the hill, still running, just like the old days.
Oh, it felt good.

My plan for today was to run as much of this section of the course as I could.
I did not want to hurt myself or break anything.
To my amazement nothing broke.
About halfway down Bankhead, some attachment structure around my left knee began whining a bit, but after a minute or so, it healed itself before it became painful.

I ran all the way down Bankhead.
When I got to the bottom, and flatter ground, part of me did not want to stop.
But I did.
My promise was to not break anything.
After doing no running for over a year, I am not in shape to run very far.
I ran over a mile this morning.
That is more than I expected to be able to do.

Part of me wants to start running this course again.
All six miles of it.
And maybe someday I will.
But not today.

My old friends welcomed my back with open arms.
And another old friend joined us.
The endorphin high I get when I run.
I am still feeling good from it five hours later.
Even my shoes, the same ones I was wearing when I last ran this course, were happy.
If they had a tail it would be wagging.
I noticed the cushioning has lost about half its resiliency, so new running shoes are needed if I resume the relationship with my old flame.
I am very happy.

(For a more complete explanation of the Cotton Row Run 10K course, see my blog of late 2006 and view My Love Affair with Running.)

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