Today is Saturday, March 13, 2010, and it is a good day for a run.

I haven’t written in a while, for various reasons; partly because I was busy with another writing project, partly because I’ve been with the kids and such, but mostly just because I have been lazy about it. I have not been lazy about running, however, so now I have three runs in the past week to catch up on.

All the way back on last Sunday, I did the final six-mile easy run of the three in my cutback week. Doing a run that short on a Sunday was a little odd, especially because rather than going out on the trails, I just did it close to home around the neighborhood. I did two laps of my neighborhood three-mile loop. It was a sunny, warm-ish day, and the first run in many months where I took off my windbreaker partway through. Nothing much eventful about it to speak of, as it’s not an especially exciting route. Normally I would have gone out to the bike trail anyway, but since I was doing a shorter run anyway, I decided not to draw it out any more than necessary, partially because the Big Ten wrestling championship finals were Sunday, and I had fleeting hopes of watching it on TV even though we don’t have the Big Ten network. I couldn’t scare up anybody that was willing to let me come over and watch, so I just followed it online. The Hawkeyes won their third consecutive Big Ten championship, as expected. That is all I will say about that.

On Tuesday, I did the first of what is scheduled to be several Tuesday two-mile easy runs. This one seemed excessively easy because of the fact that I was just coming off a recovery week, but I’m sure they will feel very appropriate in the future when they come two days after long runs of two to three hours. It felt so unusual to finish a run feeling like I had so much gas left in the tank. I don’t always finish feeling completely exhausted, or anything, but I typically feel like I had a good, solid workout; after I finished this one, it felt like I was just warmed up. Not that I was cold, each day this week has been getting progressively warmer, despite the clouds and rain that are typical of March. It has been mostly in the forties and fifties which has been wonderful to run in.

The highlight of my run on Tuesday was seeing three very large birds, which, after some later research, I determined to be sandhill cranes. I was able to make this determination because I saw one of them in flight; herons, it turns out, fly with their necks crooked back, wheras this bird had its neck outstretched, and because I was able to hear their calls as the two on the ground called to the one in the air, and vice versa. At the time I assumed that the two were trying to let the third know they were there so they could rendezvous. While I was researching, when I had it narrowed down to a crane (sandhill cranes are the only common ones in North America, so I read) I found a website which let me listen to the three types of sandhill crane call, and it was indisputably the third type: the distress call. I gather from this that the two on the ground had spotted me, and were shouting to the one in the air to stay away, as there was a crazy-looking guy running this way. It also explained why the flying one circled back the opposite direction instead of landing with the pair as I had assumed was his (or her) intention. Whatever the situation, they were very large and impressive birds, which I estimate (from a distance of eighty yards or so) to have been about five feet tall.

As an aside here, before I get to my Thursday run, as I was writing this, there was a knock at the front door, and when I answered a kid was fundraising for his high-school track team. I normally don’t donate for door-to-door fundraisers these days as I don’t have the money to spare, but I couldn’t pass up supporting a runner while I was writing about running. I asked him what he ran and he said “long distance” and my eyes lit up. A man after my own heart, I thought. So I said “one mile? Two mile?” and he said no, 800.” I smiled and gave him five bucks.

So on to Thursday. Thursday’s scheduled run was a six- mile tempo: one warmup, four hard, one cooldown. The fourth six-mile run in my last five runs, but this one INCLUDING THE STRETCH OF TRAIL I HAVE BEEN WAITING TO RUN ON FOR THE LAST THREE MONTHS. Finally, between the above-freezing temperatures and the rain, it is clear enough to be navigable. There are still three or four chunks of icy snow across the trail in various places, but they are small enough and few enough to make it traversable. This is a big deal because it opens up a lot of routes I have had to work around for a very long time. And on Thursday, I started and finished on it.

I’ll admit I haven’t mentally acclimated to the Thursday speedwork yet, but it’s getting better. This one was challenging, but I felt quite good after it. It might have been the spring weather, or the freshness of running a route that hadn’t been available to me for so long, or the fact that I was as fresh as I have been in weeks because of the low mileage in the last week, but maybe it was just because I figured out how to go hard without going too hard. Speaking of going hard, the looming spectre ahead of me is sixteen miles tomorrow. I haven’t done sixteen (or more) since last year’s marathon. I’ve done fifteen, but sixteen last year was the first run where it started getting hard. I’m confident I’m capable of it, but it might just hurt. No pain, no gain.

Easy, Run, Tempo | Tags: ,

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