Saturday, October 25, 2008

FIFTY-NINE MINUTES

That is how long it took me to run the Cotton Row course this morning.
I am very pleased.
This is just a minute off of my usual practice times back in the day when I was running the course regularly.

The weather this morning was marginally cool.
Almost cold.
For me, any temperature that starts with a "4" is cold.
My thermometer at the house read 52.
I had expected it to be cooler.

Anyway, I went with bare legs and medium-weight long sleeves, knit gloves, and ear warmer band today.
The combination proved to be just about right.
The wrist timer read 6:06:53 as I started out in the dark.
Traffic downtown was nil.

I had a physical concern.
My right kneecap had a nice, sharp little pain on the outside, as I padded through the house getting ready this morning.
Not good.
If walking hurt, what will six miles of up-hill and down-hill pounding for an hour (or so) produce?
I would watch this carefully and have a plan B ready if things went badly.

Part of me was saying take your time but Coach and Runner were urging a more aggressive tack.
THEY wanted to knock another minute off of my time.

On Lowe Avenue I saw a solitary lady runner going my way on the far side of the street.
We did not speak and I soon passed her.
That was the last I saw of her.
Good for her being up this early and doing this kind of thing.
I hope she is putting as much effort and discipline into her spiritual life.

All things went well in the sodium-lit darkness as miles one and two rolled under me.
The kneecap of concern was amazingly quiet.
Mile three is a nice steady uphill grade called Owens Drive.
Coach said quietly, "Put the pedal down a bit."
And I complied.
The clock was running.

I altered my gait to use more of my calves and it was not long before I felt them mumbling about hard work or something.
The masochist in me just smiled.
The quarter moon was peeking through the morning clouds in the pre-dawn twilight as I took off my gloves.
I love this course.

Soon I was at The Hill.
Ninety feet gain in altitude in less than a quarter mile.
The road here is about as steep as the roof of a house.
I slowed to a walk for the first half and noted the three-mile marker painted on the concrete.
I did little bouncy heel raises with each step.
Then it was running again and more calf work (Lord knows they need all they can get).
By the top of The Hill there were cries of "Abuse!" from the calf department.
"Shuddup an run!" came the reply from Running Central.

After the slight down and up of Toll Gate Road, it was all down hill on Bankhead Parkway.
We would see if the right knee thing was real or not.
(Downhill running puts extra stress on quads and knees.)

Half way down, I met two lady runners coming up.
Wow.
Pony tails sure look cute at dawn....

Nearly a mile later we knew that the right knee was healed.

There was no traffic (plus one) on Pratt Avenue and I motored down its gradual pitch with glee.
When I am happy, I tend to slow down a bit and daydream.
Coach urged me to keep the pressure on the clock so I pushed my pace up to my comfortable breathing limit.
A zig and a zag and I was on Clinton Avenue in the dim pre-daylight.
Putt putt putt, I motored on with no issues.

A quick stop at California for some traffic, then off we went again.
I hate stopping in the middle of a good run.
It just throws my rhythm off.
Another zig and a zag and I was on Randolph.
More gradual downhill.
Coach whispered, "Push it."
I did.

A zig at the courthouse and a zag, and I was on Clinton again for the final half mile or so.
Now the racehorse in me was pushing to break free.
The finish line was in sight - waaaay down there.
There were no cars on the road for as far as I could see.

My breathing went into an easy level three.
I was feeling wonderful and ready to dump the bucket in the last two hundred yards.
And I did.

I wondered if the guys at the Coca Cola plant were watching and if so, what they were saying to each other.
"Look at grampa go," perhaps.
Then I passed the finish line and looked at my watch as I slowed to a walk.

7:05:55.
WOO HOO!
Fitty-nine minutes!
Coach was smiling.

And nothing broke in the process.
During my cool-down walk, the calf department registered a complaint regarding "overwork".
Masochist just grinned.

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