I did it.
The idea has been tickling my mind for the last three or four years.
Just every once in a while.
Could I do it?
Just once more?
But, I do not need any further ego boosts.
Not at my age.
But still, every few months the thought would come around.
"It" is the 10K Cotton Row race course.
I love that course.
I do not know why.
But, several years ago, after three or four failures to finish the full journey without having to walk for a minute or two, I decided that I could no longer do that course. (June 2011)
I was getting older, after all....
So, I came up with a four-mile practice course to continue running.
I purposely included a substantial hill to make up for the shortened distance.
It included part of the Cotton Row course that I love.
Then I found that I had to walk for a minute or so on THAT course, so I dropped back to a 3.6 mile version of that course.
I will have to do some research to see when all of that happened.
But for the last year or so (?), I have been running this 3.6 mile loop to scratch my runners itch.
And it has kept me happy.
But in spite of this gradual contraction of my running capacity, the thought would still visit me from time to time; could I do the whole six-mile loop again?
So, this past Thursday, as I watched what the weather would be for my Saturday morning run, as I usually do, the thought came again - do you wanna try?
The weather this morning was partly cloudy, temp in the low 60s, slight breeze - perfect running weather.
Perfect 10k running weather.
And as I packed by duffle bag and ran through my mental checklist of the things I need to bring for my run, my mind was also running through a list of contingencies, should I choose to do the long course and I suffer a physical failure.
I have run the 10k course dozens of times.
I know every hill, every mile marker, every street, every turn, in this course.
If something breaks, I know what points are turn-around points.
If I turn around at mile marker two, that would equal a four-mile run - approximately what I have been doing lately.
Mile marker three is the half-way point (give or take - mostly give - a hundred yards or so), so it does not matter which way you go from that point.
You might as well keep going.
Plus, the 10k course is virtually all down-hill from the three mile point to the finish.
I was nervous - and a bit scared.
I pointed my car a different direction from the way I go to my short course.
In past years, I used to run the 10k course twice each week.
The route I took today to the 10k starting line was a very familiar one.
But I have not driven it in several years.
It was a deja vu moment.
After parking my car, I walked to the start line and began to run.
My usual non-warm-up warm-up.
Testing all the connections and support structures to make sure everybody was happy.
I was biting off a big chunk today.
No gradual build-up of distance to break-in the body in smaller steps.
I know better.
But Plan A was to go for the whole enchilada.
If something broke, I would walk, limp, run, or crawl, back to my car.
I had no time constraints other than my own little Saturday schedule.
Plan A strategy was to take it slow, keep my breathing at level two and finish without walking.
How fast I went was not a priority.
And it was so.
To my delight and amazement.
Early in mile six, Left Knee began to complain about the unfairness of life.
I blame this on my turning around to the right to see if there is a car coming from behind me.
I consciously told myself to not do this because of this very result.
It only happened a couple of times, but that was enough to cause a problem.
Sometimes adjusting my stride and concentrating on keeping my form very linear can mitigate some joint problems.
This was done and it did help some.
By that time, my breathing was up to an easy Level 3, but I did not care.
After the last left turn you can see where the finish line is, a half a mile away.
I have found that, at that point, you tend to forget about a lot of details in life and focus on getting to that little mark on the planet.
I knew at that point that, barring a major surprise catastrophe, I was going to finish Plan A.
It was a wow run.
Thank you, Jesus, for the privilege to be able to do this one more time.