It appears that I just cannot stop running.
As I have stated many times - I love to run.
If I could stand it, physically, I would run every day.
Note the "if" above.
I am fully aware that I am violating a rule of running promoted by nearly all running coaches.
Run every two or three days to maintain your cardiovascular fitness.
Running less often can cause injuries as well as sub-par performance.
I don't run often enough.
And I don't warm up (contrary to what the running magazines say...)
And I have never been injured from/while running.
But I know that I ignore the professional's advice at my risk, so I am careful.
Especially at the beginning of a run.
My running course of choice lately is mile three and half of mile four of the six mile Cotton Row course, which contains two of the steepest hills of the course.
Most of this territory is along the first, or bottom mile of Bankhead parkway.
It proved to be adequate again this morning.
I had been toying with running this route again for a couple of weeks.
Last week I wimped out for some reason now forgotten.
I usually leave my options open on Saturday morning when I wake up, just to keep from feeling like I have failed in some way, if I do not choose to run.
Today was different.
I woke up ready.
As I was getting ready, I noticed my right ankle was hurting as I put weight on it.
This was the same foot that shut down my walk last Tuesday near the beginning of mile three.
So even though this pain was a one or two on a ten scale, I was wary.
Thus, mentally prepared for a physical catastrophe, I motored off to my course of choice in the early dawn darkness.
The temperature was a near-perfect 65 degrees and the sky was mostly clear with a few thin stratus clouds and no wind.
I parked the car, got out, and walked to Pratt Avenue (about 75 feet) and started trotting.
No foot/ankle pain. (grins...)
But this is no guarantee of a trouble-free party.
Remember the ankle problem during Tuesday morning's walk did not present itself until mile three.
With all of this parked safely in my brain, up the increasing incline of Pratt I went.
It was dark, and I took my time.
There are several street lights along this road (though there is about a half mile of near darkness), but they do not always reveal drop-offs, bumps or unevenness on the chosen path.
So, I ran carefully, picking up my feet a tad more to prevent stumbles.
I managed to keep my breathing in my comfort range all the way up Bankhead, which pleased me.
Even so, I was glad to make the right turn onto Tollgate which is essentially flat.
It was here that I encountered five male runners coming at me.
They seemed to be in their mid-late twenties and were talking and having a good time.
We exchanged monosyllabic greetings and kept going our respective directions.
After a quarter mile or so I came to Mountainwood - the dreaded hill.
At this point I stopped running and walked down this very steep road - all 600 feet of it.
As you regular readers may recall, the bottom half of this street is as steep as the roof of a house (about 15 degrees) and is paved with grooved concrete instead asphalt.
Anyway, I walked to the bottom, turned around and started back up the hill.
Still no foot/ankle problems.
I walked up the first half of The Hill, then began running again, as has been my habit for several years on this patch of American real estate, where the pavement changes from concrete to asphalt, and the pitch changes from 15 degrees to about 10.
Back up on Toll Gate I was looking forward to the flat/downhill jog.
It was during the journey down Bankhead that my mind drifted (a sure sign of a great run) and I began to ponder something, which now I cannot recall.
The last running-related thing I remember thinking about was the long, straight downhill sidewalk ahead of me, and the next running-related thing I remember was coming to the end of the long downhill straight and going around the long curve and wondering how I got here so fast.
Near the bottom of Bankhead Parkway is a painted marker indicating the end of mile four of the Cotton Row course.
The sky was lighter now and I was looking for it just for fun.
But as I glanced over to my left to locate the marker, I saw a lady runner.
She was trotting silently along the uphill lane of the road, her brown pony tail wagging behind her head.
Even though I was running downhill, she had caught up to me and was passing me.
As I divided my attention between the sidewalk in front of me and her, I noticed she had excellent running form.
No sissy-girl half-strides for this mama, her strides were eating up the real estate in big gulps.
I was impressed.
Any pain in my right foot/ankle was far from my mind.
At the bottom of the hill, Bankhead changes pitch and becomes Pratt Avenue.
The gentle decline (now) of Pratt is one of my favorite patches of pavement on the planet to run on.
Often I can pad along this quarter-mile route in full abandon almost as if I am floating.
This was not to be this morning.
As I moved from the sidewalk to the road, as is my habit here, I was about 20 feet behind Miss brown ponytail.
After a few seconds she pealed off to the right and turned onto a side street.
I don't know if that was her plan or if I made her nervous, but she left the party.
So I had Pratt to myself.
Then came the cars and trucks.
I don't know what was going on but a lot of people had to be up on Monte Sano early this morning.
So I had to spend about half of my time running in the gravel next to Pratt instead of running ON Pratt.
Anyway, I turned off of Pratt and stopped reluctantly near my car and walked a few hundred feet to cool down.
I would have loved to go farther.
But that was not the plan and would have required some logistical/time problems.
This would have to be good enough.
I had a great run.
And no foot/ankle pain.
In God we trust.