I know both of you don't care about this very much.
If so, you can move on to more interesting stuff.
Ever since my walk last Saturday morning, I have been thinking about running up Bankhead Parkway again.
I made no conscious plans this past week, but had a open mind to the alternative to walking around my neighborhood.
I stayed up too late again last night - though not as late as some of the Nordstrom clan.....
So this morning, when I woke up before 5, I considered it an omen for a good chance to be with my old friend.
I have said this before, but I cannot say it enough - I love running.
I know it is irrational, but it is still a fact.
It surprises me how much I love to run.
Certainly my addiction to endorphins produced by the activity has to be part of it.
Anyway, after a face shave, I donned my running/walking costume and gathered up my after-run towels, water bottle, neck keys, hankie, and out the door I went.
As the plan always is these days, I would try to run the whole way.
If something broke, I would walk.
Either way it would be a good (= more taxing than my usual flat neighborhood course) workout.
I drove to Pratt Avenue and turned onto Grayson and parked the car.
I walked the few dozen feet back to Pratt wondering how long I would walk before I started to run.
I barely made it across the street before I started the engine.
Carefully, at first.
Small steps, not a lot of dig or thrust.
I wanted to let everything warm up a bit.
Though I was on an incline, it is more gradual on Pratt than Bankhead (for those who do not know, Pratt becomes Bankhead at the base of Monte Sano).
So, the reasoning was, just run the more gentle incline of Pratt and let that quarter mile or so be the warm-up.
And it was so.
The gradual left turn onto Bankhead Parkway included a not-so-subtle increase in grade, as well.
It was time to go to work.
I was already breathing heavily (but comfortably) and did not want to start the 3/4 mile or so hill at max VO2.
So I dialed back my pace a bit, even though the race horse in me was wanting to get on with it.
Having not run regularly in over a year (I stopped doing that after the 2009 Cotton Row Run), and run this same course over a month ago (maybe two or three), I knew I was out of shape for running to some degree.
But I knew that I could prolly do this without major problems because I had surprised myself at that last session.
So I took it easy and took the hill - about 200 feet in about a mile.
All joints and connections seemed to be pleased with the work at hand.
It was my breathing that was the concern.
A couple of times I flirted with the thought of stopping and walking but the runner in me and ego would have none of it.
So onward we ran.
I had to keep holding my pace down to keep my breathing at the level I wanted, though no one would fault me if I allowed my elevated respiration rate to kick in.
After all, I WAS running up a big hill.
But I wanted all things respiratory to remain nice and tidy.
And it was so.
When I got to Tollgate, I was looking forward to its relatively flat topography.
I felt good and the worst (well, most of it) was over.
By the time I reached Mountainwood Drive, I was a very happy old man.
I stopped and retied my right shoelace, which had suddenly begun to feel loose.
Then it was a walk down Mountainwood.
One of the steepest roads I have ever seen.
At the bottom, I noticed that Owens Drive had been repaved.
I wished that I was in shape to run the whole Cotton Row course again so that I could pad up the nice, new surface of Owens.
I turned around in the cul-de-sec and started up Mountainwood.
As has been my practice for several years of running this course, I walked up the steepest part of Mountainwood that is paved with concrete and began running when the grade leveled a little and the paving changed to asphalt.
It was a slog, but I took baby steps and just worked it a foot or so at a time.
This was not a race and I knew I was fragile (or assumed so).
It was on the return trip along Tollgate that I saw another runner.
She was almost a quarter mile away when I first noticed her.
Pale blue top, black shorts.
At that point I was not sure of the gender because of the powerful strides she was taking.
Then I saw the golden pony tail wagging side to side.
But that stride; I was impressed.
She did not take the little short girly steps that many women do.
This lady lifted her knees almost even with her hips and took great chunks of territory with each step.
And yet, as we closed in on each other, she did not seem to be working hard (envy again - I was breathing like I was, well, running).
And it was early; only 6 or so.
And no iPod - good for her (one of the dumbest things a woman can do while running or walking).
This lady was a serious runner.
WAY out of my league.
I looked closely to see if I knew her from past races, but I could not be sure.
I waved, she said hi, then she was gone.
Do I need to say, I was impressed?
I was impressed.
I turned left onto Bankhead for the downhill jaunt.
This was the easy part, as far as breathing is concerned.
I was more concerned about joints and connective tissue at this point because of past history.
Many times in jaunts gone by, I have had foot, ankle, knee or hip issues on this very patch of road.
Part of it could attributed to the fact that I had already run three miles up hill.
But some of it had to do with the pitch of this stretch of the course.
And so it was today.
Not long after I landed on Bankhead, my left knee started whining with a sharp ouch just to the inside of my kneecap.
I wondered why; I had been trying to keep my left foot from flopping about, as it is wont to do.
I had not taken any awkward steps with my left foot, that I could recall.
So why the pain?
The question, briefly, was taken up by Running Central, is this the end of the run?
But before a vote could be taken, the pain went away.
As so many - if not all - of my running pains have done.
And on we jogged.
Happy as a dead pig in the sunshine. (as they say)
At the bottom of the hill, Bankhead became Pratt once again and I cruised onto the less steep decline, loving every moment.
This (other than every finish line) was my favorite part of this course.
The gentle decline seemed to help me to float along the road.
Breathing at this point was up into my accelerated zone, but I was less than a quarter mile from the end.
It was time to let it all out.
When I reached my car, I wanted to keep going, just as I had last time I did this.
But I stopped.
I walked to the next street to cool down, turned around and walked back to my car.
Sweaty, tired, jacked up on endorphins, I felt awesomely.
According to Map My Run, this course is 1.62 miles one way.
Close enough to three miles to suit me.
In God we trust...