Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This posting reminded me of my own thoughts about the old oak

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cold Weather Running

Last Friday there was a light coating of snow when I ran the trails. You have probably seen the snowfall that covers lawns but not the streets. Here it was the opposite – there trails were covered but the wooded areas less so. The trails wound like white ribbons thru the woods. It had a fairy tale quality.

Today, there was much more snow (but still just a coating). It was very cold (7F) when I started (but no wind). I was concerned – this was the coldest weather in two years – that I might be uncomfortable but I must have dressed well for I felt great almost immediately.

The roads going to the park were crowded – maybe people getting an early start anticipating icy conditions, but the park itself was empty. Not a single car was in the small parking area I use. There was one set of footprints on the multiuse path and as soon as I entered the woods I was breaking trail (well except for the various animals who obviously view the trails as a very convenient way to travel). Last week I saw no animals but this morning I did encounter deer, but I know from the tracks that many others are active despite the cold.

It was an especially beautiful morning – one of those mornings where the rising sun constantly changes the colors and patterns of the woods. At one point high on a ridge I stopped to look across the valley to the opposite ridge where the sun was just peeking thru the tree line. The whiteness of the snow, the blue sky, the dark trees, the red light of the dawn sun all seemed so primary and clear. On the one hand it was cool to know I was here first, alone in this quiet spot (if someone plunked you down you would hardly guess busy roads were less than a mile away); on the other hand I was sad that there was no one else experiencing this great beauty.

Tears that a gust of wind had squeezed out of my eyes had frozen on my eyelashes, but I still felt comfortable. I was very tempted to try another loop but knew it was getting late (a wrong turn had already prolonged the run), and I reluctantly headed back to the paved road. A couple more sets of human prints on the road, but when I got back to the parking area my car still stood alone.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Eight Seconds

I am a mid pack runner, competing in the 60 over group for third, so why should it matter. But it did.

Before running the Icicle Ten Miler I had checked my time from last year and what it took to place in my new age group. It looked like my time from last year was close to being in the money so I was optimistic.

The Icicle is held in Wilmington, Delaware and is a very nice but hilly course

The Caesar Rodney Half Marathon follows a very similar route.

Being mid January I have run this race in adverse conditions – last year’s race was very cold and windy, and it has been run in snow, ice, and one year a cold, cold sleety rain. But Sunday was mild – very humid and in the 50’s. These are not conditions I prefer, especially the humidity.

It was different to be lining up at the start in shorts and short sleeves.

I knew the start would be fast – the first two miles are more down than up. I expected to average about 8:30 miles but planned on the first mile at 8:00 and was actually a little faster.

The real climb begins just after mile two and continues thru five. I was pretty pleased with my progress thru the hills and felt on schedule. I struggled a bit more than I expected on five and six, most of which is a rolling out and back on Route 52. But once back in the park I ran the downhills well. There is a steep climb to finish the race and knowing it was there helped and I ran up as hard as I could. The final stretch is flat and I picked up as much speed as I could.

This was one of those races where despite a lot of runners I was running alone most of the time, i.e. the knot of runners directly in front of me were about 30 yards away. I don’t think anyone passed me in the last two miles and finally I did pass a couple of runners but mostly there was a big gap between me and the runner in front of me. It would have been nice to have someone to pace off of.

As I closed in on the finish I saw that I was going to be under 1:24 if I pushed and I did. I was almost a minute faster than last year.

I was pretty confident that would put me in the money but alas this was a race with some very fast runners. When they called out the age group winners I wasn’t in it but I knew from the time I had been close. I don’t remember third place passing me so I am presuming that he was in that knot of runners just ahead of me and that my push up the hill and the last quarter had closed the gap between us.

I was left wondering that if I knew there was a competitor that close if I could have squeeze out those eight seconds somewhere along the course. Of course if challenged my competition may have amp’d up his game so who knows.

BTW this guy was a very young looking 61 and I wonder if he had passed me if I would have recognized him as a competitor.

A good race, no real regrets I ran hard, stayed on schedule….. but still some disappointment. It seems once again I matched the Eagles with an almost. (See my post on the PDR.) Still I am optimistic – my time was better than last year. Improvement is still possible. Now to find the next race.