Monday, March 30, 2009

Inspirational Running

Somehow it has felt longer than 7+ days since my last post. I simply have not felt too inspired or motivated to write. My illness is still lingering. Work kept me busy during last week. The boy and I pulled a one day trip to U of Louisville to visit his academic adviser. Each of these have been a contributing factor to a diminished training schedule and less time to either blog or train.

I will say that the training I did have last week was quality, something which I have been more in touch with since the beginning of '08. Friday night's run was quality on two levels.

Aimee had plans to run the final miles of her sisters long run to offer support and encouragement. Not knowing when I would get my own long run in during a busy weekend schedule, I decided to meet them down on the trails as well.

At 6PM Aimee trotted off to meet her sister and I headed towards one of my most favorite trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Old Carriage Trail. I know I have written about this section of trail before but it is a trail that I cannot help but run each time I am even close to it.

With the temperature in the upper 50's the parking lot had some cars in it but not too many. The flat 1.25 miles to the trail head was a nice warm up before hitting the rolling terrain. Along the way I could hear everything in the woods and on the river. Especially noisy were the spring peepers. To get an idea of what I heard, go to the link for spring peepers (it's a Wikipedia article), put your speakers on full volume and play the clip for "collective spring peepers calling". Better yet, put headphones on because they were on both sides of the trail.

Once I was out of their mating area the quiet of the park surrounded me. No cars, no planes, very few people, no music......just peacefully quiet. I hit the trail head and started the climb to the upper portions of the trail. Along the trail I heard the rustling of leaves and branches by the inhabitants of the woods. Black squirrels, chipmunks, birds, maybe even deer. I'm not sure because I rarely saw anything, but I heard them out there.

I was flowing along the trail passing an occasional walker and possibly a dog. I saw at the most 5 people and quietly said hello as I passed them by. The quieter the better for this run.

The loop rejoined the Towpath a little further down from where I originally started. I hit the split button on my watch.....37 minutes. I turned around and headed back up the hill I had just come down. The deeper I got into the woods the more I became in touch with what I was doing. I could tell that this was going to be one of those runs. One where the energy flows from the top of your head down through your feet and into the ground.

People have many names for this special feeling often using terms like "runner's high" or "the zone". I like "the zone" myself.

When I find my Zone I try to recognize it and feel the experience. The body moves as one, I can feel my heart beat, everything becomes relaxed and my pace flows. My feet float over the rocks and roots in the trail knowing how to carry me safely over the terrain.

When I reached the Towpath again I continued my pace back to where I started. I passed Aimee and her sister not far from my starting point. I pushed the split button on my watch.......35 minutes on the return trip. A very nice 2 minute negative split.

I needed more time so I started running after Aimee to see what the status was. All was good and they were going another 2 miles out and back. I finished my run doing the same out and back.

All said and done I logged between 12 - 13 miles with some excellent tempo on Old Carriage Trail. I may be at a better place than expected for this weekends half marathon in Athens, OH. The race course is flat so my hill work should pay off. My expectations are not very high but sometimes that is when your best performances come through.

I'll be looking for my Zone during the race. I'll be preparing myself mentally all week since there is nothing physically I can do now to help me on race day except try to get healthier.

More to come this week.

Game On.


Cyndi said...

Very nice...

....One where the energy flows from the top of your head down through your feet and into the ground....

Something to aspire to ~ I'm getting there!

Good luck next weekend~ your game is ALWAYS on, I'm sure of it!

triguyjt said...

game on...rock it...
good luck to you and aimee this weekend....

JC Sell said...

The Athens take down..go get em'!