Let the Royal Chronicles show that I ran the Cotton Row course this morning in 61 and a half minutes.
I am very pleased.
It was very good to visit my old friend.
I do not know why I love this path so much, but I do.
It is very challenging yet pleasant.
Due to the time of the year, it was virtually dark when I started out at 6:01:35 AM.
The weather was chrystal clear and a cool 61 degrees.
The humidity seemed low for this area at this time of year.
Near-perfect running weather.
I was nervous at the beginning, wondering if I was being too aggressive in taking on this course so soon after increasing my distance to six miles.
And, indeed, just half way into mile one, my legs were feeling the subtle but insistent incline that is the most significant attribute of the first half of this six-mile path.
At the beginning of mile two I met another runner going my way.
He said he was from North Carolina and did not know his way around town.
I told him he was on a marked six-mile course and by following the painted marks in the road he would be able to follow the course back to his hotel.
He thanked me and trotted on ahead.
He was young and looked strong.
In just a few minutes he was out of sight.
It felt really good to be on my old familiar course again.
It may be three years since I have run the Cotton Row course.
I am not sure.
The session would have been more enjoyable if I had felt more comfortable with my physical ability.
But I was concerned that I might not be up to the task.
For this reason, I consciously took my time.
The main goal today was to finish with no broken parts.
We will work on time later.
I arrived at The Hill feeling good.
I knew that once I topped this steep incline it was all down hill to the end. (mostly)
Mile three ends about one hundred feet up the hill.
I walked the lower part of the Hill that is paved with rough concrete and, as has been my practice in days gone by, when the pavement changed to asphalt, I began running again.
This section is still quite steep and very challenging.
I was thrilled that at this point, nothing was hurting and other than my accelerated breathing, I was doing fine.
Then it was a quarter mile of a slight down and up and then it was all downhill for three-quarters of a mile to the bottom of Bankhead Parkway.
Still no problems.
As I turned onto Clinton Avenue I remembered the days a few years ago when I was running this course on Tuesday afternoons after work.
It was summer and smotheringly hot.
I was doing fine joint and ligament-wise, but I was really hot.
And feeling tired.
One day I had to stop and walk for a couple of minutes.
That sort of scared me, though I finished the run with no other problems.
Not this morning.
I was feeling very good as I trotted down Clinton Avenue in the morning twilight.
My breathing was more rapid than I would have preferred but I was not laboring.
I just motored along enjoying the scenery and my blood pumping.
After a couple of turns I was back in downtown Huntsville, turning onto Clinton Avenue again for the final quarter mile.
The sky was light now, though the sun was not yet above Monte Sano.
I was feeling very good.
I was near the finish line and nothing had broken.
To my amazement, I still had enough Wheaties in the bowl to sprint the last hundred yards or so.
There actually IS a finish line mark here.
I passed the line and looked at my watch.
Just three minutes slower than I used to run this course two or three years ago.
I am very pleased.
I am sure I will feel the effects of this jaunt later.
Already I can feel my calves wanting to cramp.
THE WEDNESDAY WALK
I was in a perverse mood Wednesday morning when I woke up and, even though it was pouring rain, I wanted to walk.
So I put on my rain gear and stepped out into Noah's flood 2.
And most of me got wet - especially my feet.
Some of the gutters were 3 inches deep in water and it is not easy to see at 5:30 AM.
Even with the street lights.
Anyway, I walked in the rain.
And lived to tell about it.