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When I got out of bed around 5:30am on Sunday I could hear the wind outside.  It was a wet,cool, windy day and I had a barefoot 10k run on my morning agenda.

First I took my seat and meditated.  Then I contemplated the weather.

The precipitation was welcome because barefoot running in the rain is the best.  The temperature, a cool 8 degrees Celsius at that hour of the morning, and a promise to rise only another 2 degrees, was tolerable, though 12 or 14 degrees would have been decidedly wonderful.

The wind, gusting to 45 kph was my climate challenge.  Coming in from the NW, the anticipation of a stiff wind was almost enough to send me nudging back into the warmth of a cozy, familiar back still curled under a comforter, where squalls would be lost to spooning.

Is there some kind of crazy that drove me instead in search of running gear?  Or, was it the magic of my happy toes, painted a peppy orange and boasting jack o’lanterns on the big toes?  I couldn’t help but smile and feel very brave when I looked at them.

Some strange intersection of inconsequential bits of my life buoyed my spirit and my resolve before my mindfulness bell chimed 6 o’clock.  I was in.  I was totally in.

the timing chip solution

Next, to make a final decision regarding the attachment of my timing chip. My research of the previous day had left me with two ‘best’ options.  One was to tape the thing to the top of my foot with medical or duct tape.  The other was to wear it with rubber bands.  I went with the rubber band choice.

Breakfast, dry clothespacked, a shot of cough syrup, camera check, mounting excitement.

This year’s crowd seemed timid.  Made nervous by the weather, they crammed the nooks and crannies of the Confederation Centre of the Arts, building a steamy warmth in the building which, as I ducked inside for one last bathroom run, I thought would make for even greater discomfort when confronted with the freshness of  the morning.

Folks were warming up, chatting, milling around, creating photo opportunities.  The music was appropriate.  Udo took a bit of video before the starting gates filled.  I might have been a bit excited….

The early part of the race route was along the waterfront.  I had lined up behind the 2:30 half marathon pacer at the start as this was about the pace at which I intended to do the 10k.  Before we left the boardwalk I had decided to pick up my pace just a touch.  As an untrained and mainly recreational runner, I had no clue as to what my pace was as I left the pacer and her group behind.

There was lots of reaction to my barefootedness.  From curiosity and comments about my lunacy, to horrified murmurings, from stifled ‘sympathy’ groans to cheers.  I have to admit, it was all amusing and spurred me on.

Twice on the route I had to walk a few paces due to the amount of rubble on the road.  Thankfully these were both very brief surrenders.

I ran a faster pace than I intended.  This led to the lack of subsequent video as my partner arrived at the agreed upon checkpoints after I had already passed.  In fact, I crossed the finish line with him no where in sight and 5 minutes later found him diligently watching for my arrival.

My finish line photo, at the top of this entry, was taken by Lisa Wells, who cheered me across the finish line with her son Spencer. Thanks Lisa and Spencer!

This post is getting long-winded, as I generally tend to be, and I am needing to move on to other tasks.  So,

running 10k was good for my soles

  • The rubber bands were not a great option. I was getting different proprioceptive feedback from each foot and this changed my gait somewhat.  I was conscious of this throughout the full run and tried to compensate but was rather distracted by it.
  • The rain and puddles were great fun.
  • The wind was nastiest between the 6km and 7km mark, just when I thought I was done with it.
  • I lost focus and energy on the very last kilometre and had to run from my heart and mantra my way to the finish.
  • My finish time amazed me.
  • KRock 105.5 announcing my arrival at the finish line and pointing out my barefoot status was an uplifting moment just when I needed it.
  • My bare feet, after the run, remain lovely and smooth.
  • A live interview this morning with Matt Rainnie of CBC Island Morning about my barefoot adventure was a giggle.
  • A freelancer is coming by the studio tomorrow to do a story about my nonsense.
  • Running barefoot is sublime.

To quote the haiku version of The Complete Book of Barefoot Running,

So, it is Saturday and I am running a 10k tomorrow.

Aside from the challenges that will be presented by not being sufficiently trained for this run, there are other factors which will make tomorrow an adventure.

One is the forecast.  Environment Canada is saying:

Showers ending in the afternoon then cloudy. Amount 2 to 4 mm. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50. High 10.

I don’t mind the rain and I don’t mind the temperature, but gusts of 50 kph will just kill me.  Tonight when I go to bed, I’ll be sending out calm breeze thoughts.

A second concern is a blossoming bout of bronchitis. Or, maybe it is just a chest cold coming to call.  Either way, my chest is tightening and my bronchioles are irritated and itchy.  My nose is a bit congested and my cough is becoming more frequent and, as the health folks would say, productive.  I picked up a vile wildberry flavoured expectorant cough syrup at the pharmacy and I’m drinking water.

I have also been challenged by the timing chip.  Let me tell you.

I headed to the Confederation Centre of the Arts to pick up my race kit in the bluster which was Friday afternoon.  I strode past all the tables of the health expo laden with running gear, colourfully appealing running clothes and running supplements; tables with information from health organizations and agencies, and tables peddling nonsense like fully processed bread as an essential part of a healthy diet.

 

the problem champion chip

 

I took my timing chip to the verification table.  The Atlantic Chip staffer was handing out timing chip cuffs/bracelets to relay team members, reading them the riot act on returning the bracelets, and allowing those of us with Champion Chips to scan them and verify our information on a lap top.  I asked him where I should wear my chip and explained to him that I was running barefoot and would not have the requisite laces he indicated.  He was neither polite nor helpful.

So, I have spent a good portion of today seeking information regarding Champion Chips and barefoot running.  I put out twitter requests for advice and posted queries on barefoot running forums and a half dozen barefoot-related facebook pages.  Many folks have offered ideas and I am grateful to an online community. My partner spent part of the day with the top of his foot duct taped, an alternative use not mentioned in Wikipedia, in an effort to perform a test run for me.

The best online information I found was posted on Barefoot Pua’s Blog this past July.  There is the medical tape suggestion (I have none in the house) and the rubber band idea, which I find not particularly comfortable but close to the top of my options list.

 

2009 vs 2010 footwear

 

Rubber bands vs duct tape at this point.  Both will come along with me in the morning.

In anticipation of my first official barefoot run, I headed off for a pedi yesterday.  I first came across Marlo Graves owner of Simply Aesthetics when I used a gift certificate for her services last February.  In my second pedicure of the year I asked her for something funky.  She did an outstanding job of trick and treating me!  I couldn’t help but be motivated by her artistry.

I’m headed out tomorrow morning in search of fun.

Tomorrow I’ll pick up my race kit for a race I might not run.

If you recall, I registered for the Confederation Bridge 10k run of the PEI Marathon at the end of August.

My intention?  To run the 10k barefoot.  Just to complete it barefoot, enjoying the run totally and not setting any goal beyond that.

I began a training schedule, running 3 times per week late in August and was able to maintain it until the early morning hours of MOVE IT! Boot Camp changed my weekly schedule and energy demands in the middle of September.

I have not been running much of late.  On Tuesday of this week I got out for the first time this month!  I got out only 8 times in September.

Tuesday’s run was a short one on a very cool morning.  It was about 4 degrees Celsius and the sidewalks were chilly.  I ran straight up University Avenue on an out-and-back run.  My feet numbed a bit as my nose dripped and my fingers burred. On the return, running into the sun, my fingers melted and my spirit ignited. I am so glad I stepped out there onto the friendly concrete sidewalks.

Typical of most of my urban barefoot runs, I attracted curiosity.  I frequently get comments, encouragement, and exclamations of various kinds. “Where are your shoes woman?” or “I wish I could do that” or “I’ve been watching you with wonder.”  This day I was chased for a half block by a not-out-for-a-run man who wanted to ask me about my barefoot running experience.  His tap startled me and I turned to see red jacket, black backpack, and a sincere face framed by gray hair. I was friendly but a bit short with him as I wanted to run, not talk about running.

I am certainly not ready to run a 10k on Sunday.

After much back and forth on the decision, I have decided to let how I feel Saturday guide the final decision.

 

early morning boardwalk

I am a bit pressed for blogging time today, but wanted to get in a wee post about Week 1 Day 1 of my 10k training, mainly because getting out for this run required a bit of inner tussling.  I am not ticklish so the tussle was not particularly delightful.

But for the many joys I have found in barefoot running I would not be training for another 10k.  I have explained why i am not a runner in a previous post and right now I am thoroughly questioning my sanity, my grasp on reality, my less than charming willfulness.  Perhaps I am blessed with a running belligerence.

If you were to judge by the small gasps of sharply caught breaths, the general moans upon moving and the relieved sighs of stretches, you’d agree that yesterday’s pistols squats and deadlifts are today’s symphony of recovery.  I am SORE, and pretty thankful of it.

Today I put in my first training run for October’s 10k race.  I was plenty stiff for the first half km and the last couple.  Freshly poured concrete hardening in the muscle fibres of my quads, solidly exhausted, accompanied me for the last few blocks.

I ran a three km route which took me from the studio through downtown Charlottetown, ending at the Brighton end of the Victoria Park Boardwalk.  There I completed 3 sprints of approximately 300m each, with 300m recovery walks. I retraced the 3km route back to the studio.

This was one tough workout for me, particularly the 300m sprints followed by another 3k run.  I haven’t run sprints since last year’s 10k race training, and speed is not my forte.  It showed today…the lack of speed, I mean.

It is a wonderfully warm sunny day out there, so I was thankful for the cool breezes coming off the river, where the herons and gulls were bobbing, tactfully avoiding eye contact with my red, sweaty self.

great campsite reading

I am not a runner. I have reconsidered this personal signifier on a number of occasions since late October. By moments I have thought I might be a runner, like when I am so inspired by other runners — a friend who runs, a beautiful woman of 80 who began running at age 50 gracing the cover of a magazine — but always I come back around to believing, to knowing deep within me, I am not a runner.

When I began training last August for the 10k run of the PEI Marathon, I did so as a focal point.  At week 1, I was finally able, after more than a year inactive with injury, to move mostly free of pain.  Though I was still unable to hit the weight room with a consistent vigour, where I really wanted to expend my energy, training for the 10k became a stopgap goal.  It fit what I needed and running and I became good friends.

During the first week of training I read Running & Philosophy:  a marathon for the mind, which I started while camping. Oh, this was gooood fireside/beach reading.  Quite a number of the essays spoke to me.  Some with a whisper of recognition, others a bit more aggressively, with a shape and sound of a ball-peen hammer striking red hot iron draped over an anvil…shaping my thoughts around my 10k training. I have returned to the book and reread a couple of these essays in the weeks since the run.

Raymond J. VanArragon is a professor of philosophy at Bethel University and a former college track and cross-country competitor. As he settled in to married life, he was exhorted by a former team mate to not become ‘a jogger’. His chapter of the book, entitled In Praise of the Jogger, takes us through his ponderings of the difference(s) between a runner and a jogger. The difference, he concludes, is not based on speed – though this is what I would have thought – but rather on motive.

The runner and the jogger run in pursuit of different goals, and that’s what makes them what they are.

The runner’s primary motive is competitive – to win or to get faster or to place higher. The jogger’s main goal is fitness in the best sense – to benefit physically and mentally, to be more fit and to live a good and productive life. VanArragon is impressed with such a motive as sufficient to get the fitness runner out the door consistently though he also sees many admirable qualities in the runner.

Reflecting on VanArragon’s framework, I would fall into the category of jogger. Somehow though, there seems to be a stigma associated with this word which pushes me away, makes me want to say ‘i am not a jogger’.

Particularly in the worlds of (some) race runners and (some) everyday road warriors, the sluglike asic-clad heavy breathing excessively perspiring curb hugger which looks like me, well, we aren’t always welcomed into the club. This is off-putting.

Those of us who identify, in our hearts and souls, as runners find it especially disheartening to not be open-armed welcomed into this amazing club. I have a wonderful new friend, Diane, over at downhourtraining, and she is a runner. She is most definitely a runner. Her brilliant prose eloquently expresses her essential runningness. I love that Diane is a runner. She is a runner and she knows it!  Confidence is worn like a mantle of Venus.

I, on the other hand, cannot conceive of myself as a runner. I cannot, in my head or heart, apply that label to myself. Though I run, I am not a runner.

VanArragon places the motives of joggers, within a broader framework, one which resonates for me:

joggers can participate in races; they can train extra hard from time to time in order to run fast times, and so on…the jogger is different from the runner in virtue of the fact that those things merely add variety to her running. They are not her fundamental motivation for running. When there is no race to train for and no challenges to meet – other than the constant challenge of living a good life – she gets out there and runs anyway. And when she does for a time pursue those challenges, she keeps them in perspective, recognizing the overall purpose for which she runs and not getting unduly wrapped up in those secondary (and temporary) goals that she has set for herself.

When I trained for the October 10k, it was the first time I followed a formal training program. I chose a program to increase my speed, and it did. Truly surprisingly, I found myself most enjoying the sprint days.  Who’d have guessed that? And at the end of the program I found my base running speed had increased from 5.2 – 5.3mph to 5.6 – 5.8mph. My sprint speed went from 6.0mph to 6.8mph. This is still a wonderment to me. I so much enjoy the extra edge which has been added to my running, the slight craving I have developed for interval running, the fact that I finally ran a sub 30minute 5k.

I am ready to claim it, to exclaim it, to declare that though I am not a runner, I am a jogger.

I am a jogger!

waiting for the start

waiting for the start

I slept in this morning and had a lovely breakfast before heading to Charlottetown.  Thankfully the weather was perfect, partly sunny and hovering about 6 degrees (celsius) during the 40 minute drive.

It was chilly during the wait for the start, and I needed to use the bathroom — again — but had to forgo this call to nature.  What seemed forever, though was only minutes, eventually passed and the gun sounded.  The first minute 20 seconds was a slow walk, funneling like cattle through the starting gate where the chip mat recorded the personal starting time of each and every participant.  After passing the mat there was enough elbow room to break into a slow run and begin winding my way through the runners and walkers.

The run along the river in Victoria Park was peaceful and beautiful, though we were compressed to a narrow lane on this part of the run.  Leaving the park allowed participants to find space and pace and settle in to personal rhythms.  Along the route, well wishers and volunteers cheered and shouted words of encouragement and inspiration.  I particularly liked the large sign held aloft which boldly stated “Runners Are Sexy” and when I could hear my own girls calling out “Go Mama”.

entering upei campus

entering upei campus

As I turned at the entrance to UPEI, which was about the 6k mark, my family was there cheering and smiling.  Yay for them! I was running at just about my goal pace at this time which, if I maintained it, would bring me to the finish line at just under 1:10:00.

At 7k I was surprised to find a new energy, perhaps inspired by the pair of UPEI swimmers who were running and discussing how good it would be to shower and eat soon (though they were elaborating Big Macs — ewwww).  My legs felt strong, my breathing was smooth, centred, and balanced so I picked up my pace a touch.  I managed to hold the increase until the finish line, though the last 300 – 400 metres required some serious inward focus.

shout out chip mat

shout out chip mat

I was quite content to pass that finish line (check #203) well under my goal:  a gun time of 1:04:50 and a chip time of 1:03:29.

I am grateful to every one of you who have been reading about this journey.  To those who have made comments on this blog or on my facebook page – thank you so very, very much.  To those who have been content to read quietly – know that I think of you with much gratitude too.

After the run, we headed to a restaurant and shared a fun-filled brunch.  Thanks Choyce, Jaz and Udo!

we drove, i ran, we ate

we drove, i ran, we ate

Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt.  Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead.

~ Roger Bannister

running fashion - timing chip and race bib

running fashion - timing chip and race bib

No matter our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.

~  Dr. Dale Turner

12.10.09 w9 d1

It is a Rest Day.  This is a good thing as it is a travel day as well.  After a very nice visit with my mom for thanksgiving, we are up and on the road early in order to catch the 12:30 ferry back to PE.

13.10.09 w9 d2

After a long weekend of too much good food, excess wine, wonderful running in Cape Breton, and a truly nice visit with my mom, I am rolling out of bed in the dark to again run my familiar route.  It is only a 5k which is required of me today. Psyklawps seems quite willing to be my partner.

We head down the driveway in the dark.  It is an overcast early morning, only a couple of degrees above freezing and I am warmly dressed.  The darkness wraps around me, gently.  My first steps are, as usual, tentative because i am not a runner.  Quickly though I find a stride, a rhythm, a pattern.  My cardiovascular system begins to synchronize with my respiratory system.  My muscular system and skeletal system weave themselves into an arrangement which is rich in complexity.  My nervous system aligns with my endocrine system aligns with my integumentary system.  I am, at once, syncopating and expanding.  I am condensed.  I am amplified.  I exist is multiple possibilities.   I am running.

I am running.  And I do this until it is time to stop.  It is a strong, assured run which ends with pleasure, satisfaction, humility, contentment.

14.10.09 w9 d3

I wake up in Ottawa.  I fumble for the off button on an unfamiliar alarm clock in the hotel room.   I force my way into some running gear while I wait for a weather report to fill my computer screen.  It is just below freezing, so I pull on a hat, grab my gloves and put my hotel key into my pocket. It is time for a 40 minute tempo run.

At the front desk I ask if I should turn right or left out the front door for Rideau Street and I am off.  I take a right onto Rideau from Nicholas and I become just another moving shadow under the street lights.  Some shadows are long, slow and slumped as they head homeward, tired, at the end of another night shift.  Some move with energy, heading into the morning darkness, the early openers of city life, perking the caffeine and turning back the bolts of the daily grind.  One shadow is the running stranger.  Gazing downward for sidewalk heaves, while gazing upward for crossing signals, scoping interesting dining possibilities and marking return run landmarks.

I run into the Ottawa-Carlton district and Vanier section of the city.  I spy familiar locations — a Chinese buffet restaurant where I once dined with friends now lost, a corner where I caught a cab to the Hard Rock Cafe.  There are many memories here, in the capital city, where I once traveled regularly in my former life with SOS Children’s Villages.

I reach a 20 minute turnaround point at the corner of Montreal Road and Begin Street; I like the name of this street.  As I return to the hotel, the city yawns and stretches and begins its day.  People wait at corners for buses and beetle along sidewalks in the chill morning air.  I tumble into the shower and head down for a great breakfast with a group of truly great women from across this country.

15.10.09 w9 d4

My second training run in Ottawa, and it comes after a late night at the Empire Grill where 30 of us shared great food, an ever expanding collection of emptied wine bottles, stories and great laughs.  (As an aside, one of the workshop facilitators disclosed her familial relationship to Stompin’ Tom Connors and was sufficiently relaxed, shall we say, to demonstrate some fine stompin’ herself.)

running by Parliament Hill

running by parliament hill

I manage to pull myself together around 6:00am. It is about 5 degrees below zero; the chilly morning air bites through my gloves and stings my nose and jawline.  It wakes me quickly.

Today I head the other dirction on Rideau so I can run along Parliament Hill and in some familiar parts of downtown.  I have always liked Ottawa; it is the only place I have visited where the back alleys are clean and tidy.  I don’t run the alleys today, though I have before.  Rather I shuffle amidst other sunshine deprived folks who hunch inside their jackets and cross against the lights in the sparse traffic of this hour.

The run is invigorating.  I estimate 5k based on my time and am thankful for starting the day in such a head-clearing way.

16.10.09 w9 d5

I have officially finished my 10k training.  Today and tomorrow are both Rest Days before the event on Sunday.  I will do some yoga this evening and pick up my race kit as well.  Tomorrow I will also do yoga and, if I manage my time really well, a bit of a walk.

I am truly thankful for this coming-to-an-end-ness as I have just about come to the limit of my early morning darkness and ever-decreasing temperatures tolerance.  The current forecast for Sunday is a mix of sun and cloud with a high of 10.  I hope this remains the case though it surely remains to be seen.

My goal for Sunday is to break 70minutes in completing the 10k.  When I embarked upon this training schedule I am assured I could not have met this goal.  Today I am confident of my ability to do so, given friendly weather conditions on October 18th.

Perhaps there is a shooting star for every fallen not a runner…

10k training is finished

10k training is finished

a home run in Sydney River, Cape Breton

a home run in Sydney River, Cape Breton

05.10.09 w8 d1

The beginning of week 8.  I find it hard to fathom 7 weeks under my belt and two left to the finish.  It is Rest Day.

tibialis anterior acupuncture

tibialis anterior acupuncture

I take myself off to a physiotherapy appointment today for my left tibialis anterior.  Terri does the assessment and, yup, its tib. ant.  She applies ultrasound to the belly of the muscle, followed by acupuncture close to origin and insertion.

I forgot to post that I finally got around to registering for the event.  If you scroll down to the Confederation Bridge 10k you’ll find me — I am one of the not a runners in amongst a bunch of definite runners.  This will be the second chip event in which I have ever participated.

06.10.09 w8 d2

Interval Workout.  This is my last sprint day6 x 400m.  It is just on the cool side and the full moon is hidden by fast moving rain clouds being scraped across the sky.  I pull on a second shirt and a cap but leave the gloves at home, and that is a good decision.

Sighclops is with me as we trot down the driveway and there is a spectator skunk in the ditch.  It is windy, a westerly blowing at 30 kph, gusting to 50 kph.  My first sprint is 200m into the wind with a 200m return.  It is tough going.  I shift the rest of my sprints to have the wind at my back and even walking the 400m recovery into the wind is work.  It is a bit of a wild morning.  Wild is good.  Be ye wilde.

Again I finish the sprints feeling strong.  The recoveries always leave me ready for the next sprint and this is comforting and encouraging.  Satisfaction carries me to the back door.

07.10.09 w8 d3

A 6.4k run today.  Another lovely mild-ish morning with cloud cover hazing a harvest moon.

I am sore this morning.  Really sore.  Hamstrings, glutes and adductors are all awake and acutely aware of the demands being placed on them as a result of last night’s workout.  They are tight and make audible whining noises; a chorus of complaints.  My legs are heavy and unresponsive.  My backside could well be roadkill attached with stout rope.

Each. And. Every. Single. Step. Is. Effort.

On the return Effort, the clouds have scampered off.  The moon and stars are beautiful, hanging effortlessly, almost mocking of my frailties and I have a great laugh at my sorry self.  I turn sighclops off and run through the moonlight.  Beams dance off the tin roof of a barn.  My moonshadow stays ahead, surely she is not feeling what I am feeling. She even appears spritely and I follow on her heels.

Lunarunning.  I take my lunatic self slowly up a too long flight of stairs for a long, wastefully scalding shower.

08.10.09  w8 d4

40 minute tempo run.

Our rainfall in the past 18 hours or so has been somewhere around 40mm.  As I went to bed last night, the forecast was for a continued heavy rainfall warning and as I step into the nasty winds and rain at 5:20am I am happy to dash to the garage, jump in the car and head to a boring treadmill at the gym.  In all honesty, there is not enough dedication in my body to run in weather like this.

This  morning ends up being another really off day for me.  I expected to still be hosting my DOMS, and I am.  The glued on parts of my body are uncomfortably taut and tender.  My tibialis anterior, however,  is truly riled.  Ornery and unwilling to do her part — characteristics I generally appreciate, but not when they are resident in my nether limbs.

I run for about 30 minutes.  Then I capitulate, crying uncle to my discomforts.  I walk the remaining 10 minutes, on an incline, and make friends with these muscles-as-gurus.

09.10.09 w8 d5

Rest Day.  It is a busy day, passing quickly into night with preparations for a weekend trip only half complete at bedtime.

10.10.09 w8 d6

Again this week I flip my long run day with my EZ run day to better suit the circumstances of life.  I am catching an 8:30am ferry this morning and so have time for a 45 minute EZ run.

I step out of the back porch, sighclops shiny and eager, into a fine rain.  As I pick my way down the driveway I notice how quiet the world is.  The rain is light enough as to be soundless and the sky is lined with thick cotton wool, protecting me from the sound that can kill someone from a distance.  At first the silence is so complete I imagine it is my ears which are stuffed full with fluffy wads of cotton batting.

I set out, stepping forever into the small arc of light provided by sighclops.  It is another morning of moderate temperatures.  As I run, the rain becomes heavier, I hear it dripping from trees and splashing underfoot.  In the foot or so in front of my eyes, sighclops reflects and refracts through the rain drops.  The effect makes me think of the cheap and gawdy tinsel ‘icicles’ which hung on the christmas tree during my childhood years.

I don’t mind the rain this morning.  It is calming, soaking me through, staying with me until I arrive home.

11.10.09 w8 d7

This morning’s long run, which is suppose to be 12.8k, is run in another province.  I am in Cape Breton (Nova Scotia), running in places where I played as a child.  Places I have not stood, in some cases, in more than 40 years. It is thanksgiving weekend and I am visiting my mother who still lives in the home in which I did most of my growing up.  The house and yard has changed a lot over the years and there is a ‘for sale’ sign hanging now in the front.

I have not pre-measured this morning’s run and just go until I feel like turning around.  After the fact I measure it and find I completed an 11k long run.  When I leave the house there is a strong wind and it is cold.  I have forgotten to pack my gloves and hat, so I go without.  My hands quickly become painful and the coldness seeps into them and takes over.  Nonetheless, the morning air feels good.

The route is rich with memories, running past homes where childhood friends used to live, past the building which was once the school I attended, past the site of the local corner store.  There were once swamps along the roadside where I tarried long enough picking wild violets as to be late for school regularly.  Roadways lead into subdivisions which now sprawl over the places I picked blueberries and imagined myself in the wilderness, creating stories around long abandoned and fully crumbling stone foundations.  These were the same places which, in winter, provided many small ponds on which to skate and hills for coasting.

The journey I take today is much farther than the physical 11k I cover.  It is a truly fine run.  The sun becomes warmer and my hands thaw.  The autumn colours are spectacular.  Crows perch on power lines, announcing my passing or perhaps my return.

7 Mile Bridge - today's turnaround point

on the 7 Mile Bridge - today's turnaround point

View from 7 Mile Bridge

view from 7 Mile Bridge

Spanish River, Howie Centre

running through Howie Centre

On the run

running in Sydney River

sighclops

sighclops

28.09.09 w7 d1

Rest Day is good.  A bit of kettlebelling with the class and of course some light aerobics, which I do every Monday and Friday when I teach Seniors’ Fitness.

29.09.09 w7 d2

Sprint day rolls around again and I am up early for 8x 400m.  Peering through the darkness at my outside thermometre, I am relieved to see the needle in the 10 degree range.

Today I have a new companion in the darkness — a headlamp purchased at Mountain Equipment Co-op.  I step out into the darkness, the sky a twinkling riot which totally disappears in the light pollution thrown by my sighclops.  On its highest setting, because at first I forget about multiple settings, I have a sweeping and far ranging visibility.  WowWee.  There will be no further skunk surprises in my career as not a runner.

It is very humid, the air is warm, heavy and still.  I set off to the start line for the first sprint and I am off, staying close to the centre yellow line where the asphalt maintains the most integrity.  As I run the realization that I am devoid of star power begins to sink in.  Sighclops is both friend and foe and I suddenly wonder how many minutes/hours I can rely on her batteries.  Concerned that I will be left in the dark is enough to trigger my memory of the light settings.  I power her down to the lowest setting, pleased to find that my life is still more than adequately illuminated and I can see the stars with some degree of clarity.

There.  A shooting star.  I frequently see them on these dashes in darkness.  This morning I wonder about shooting star mythologies. I don’t know any, but surely there must be one about fallen runners.  My brain will not quiet today.  It tumbles from one thought to another, excited and agitated.  Periodically I find my legs strong under me, my breathing even and fast but mostly I am stuck in a holding pattern of free associations.

On sprint #5 I watch my partner’s taillights disappear around the bend, on the way to his morning workout at the gym.  That starts another thread in my head as I begin planning a weight routine.  I am anxious to get back into the weight room on a regular basis and will do so after this 10k is tucked into my back pocket.

Over and over this morning I shake off stories inhabiting my mindscape.  When the last sprint is done I turn sighclops off and gape.  With the gaping comes stillness in my head.  I even forget to hit the end button on my stopwatch.

30.09.09 w7 d3

Another beautiful morning.  A clear sky opening over wet gravel, slick asphalt, moist freshly turned fields.  Ground mist so clear under the perky beaminess of sighclops.  My breath and the young pine trees are caught in the beams in ways which make them new and different from previous weeks of running.  I am out for a 7.2k this morning.

My mind is soft and quiet today, my legs are strong.  I find my pace early on and I fall into a comfortable rhythm.  It all fits together this morning, the heart beat and respiration, the foot falls and light breezes, the texture of the air.  There is an equilibrium and harmony.  This is running.

01.10.09 w7 d4

I awake in the darkness of October and stumble bumble myself into some running gear.  It is really dark and the world in dripping with the swollen drops of a heavy rain just finished.  I could almost swim in this air and sighclops sluices her way through the sparkling particles of the  mist filled morning.

Today is another good run.  40 minutes tempo.  In the blackness it is difficult to distinguish fresher asphalt patches from puddles and I splash through quite a few.  There is unmitigated joy in this.

Joyfulness and eggs for three.  A great start to a Thursday and to a new month.

02.10.09 w7 d5

Rest Day.  It is a long work day for me and I am glad for the training reprieve.

03.10.09 w7 d6

Normally this is the long run day but I worked late last night and have an early morning commitment today, so I switch it for my 45 minutes EZ run. This ends up being a wise choice.

I get out a bit earlier than usual and I head eastward for the outrun, plodding along at a relaxed pace.  I have been having some gi distress this week and my innards are rumbling, doing a slight heave and pitch and creating pain.  They are not happy.  I am not happy.

I cover a bit more than 3k before I begin the return run.  It is about this time that my lower left leg figures misery is in need of company and it begins firing off distress signals.  In no time at all, a ritual wailing is growing.  I stop to stretch and have to dig deep to begin running again.  My resolve misfires and I slow to a walk.  I walk about 250 – 300m and then resume my stacatto tap-slap-tap-slap rhythm, slow and whining.

I arrive home in 48 minutes, peel the wet layers off and climb into the shower.  I am looking forward to the day ahead of me.

04.10.09 w7 d7

After yesterday’s running debacle of puny dimensions, I decide that today’s 12k long run would be cut to a 10k run.   I have an early morning client appointment at the gym so I still need to get out there early.

As I position sighclops and draw on a pair of gloves I ponder the involvement of my lower leg.  C’mon along, I think, and send some warm, loving thoughts downward as I gnaw on a few sharkies and sip some water.

nasty NRG

nasty NRG

I also try an NRG energy shot of the pink lemonade variety.  I consume about 20ml of the 60ml shot.  It is a taste most foul and leaves a strong and unpleasant aftertaste in my mouth which I experience even after I return from the run.  During the run, sporadic belches remind me of my folly.

It is just a touch cool this morning and I set off at a good pace.  12 minutes into the run my left leg begins to pulse a bit, building a burning sensation, but I am distracted by the small riot happening in my mid section.  The energy shot is ricocheting past my digestive enzymes.  Yikes.

Today I am more stupid than determined, so I push on and eventually everything settles down, into a quiet roar with which I can peacefully commune.

As I run, the energy shot seems to help and I run the full 12k distance.  I come in strong, stronger than I expect.  It is done and I am relieved.  I get myself cleaned up as my belly continues to protest, but I take myself to the gym to set up a new training program for a friendclient.

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