Friday, March 26, 2010

Alone, Even When Crowded

I debated early this morning whether I even wanted to run today. We are in one of those great stretches of weather here and I easily could have put a run off a day, especially after the two strong runs earlier this week.

Well, the bag was calling me so I put in the clothes, zipped it up, grabbed my work bag, and off I went. I had a quick lunch with a friend, and went straight to the fitness center to dress and get going since the center closes at 3:00pm on Fridays.

I had a loose goal of a long run, maybe to Memorial Park, around the loop run, and back along the steep and short, or long and gradual hills to downtown.

I started off strong but controlled, and after a left downtown and got smooth after a half mile or so I took off my shirt to enjoy the 70 degree and 34 percent humidity afternoon (a great TH Index of 104!). After cresting the initial three hills I was in steady cruise mode all the way to Memorial Park.

This place is always interesting to me, mainly because it is always crowded with all kinds of people, but I'm always totally silent and alone as I run the gravel path. It's right at 4.5 miles to get there from downtown, so after doing the nearly 3 mile loop it makes for a 12 mile day to run back downtown. Another interesting, and helpful, point is the mileage markers at the Park loop; I can completely manage my speed by carefully watching my stopwatch and comparing times to the quarter mile markers.

The worst part of this run was the total time. Since I stayed shirtless all the way back to the fitness center, only putting the shirt back on to meet the requirements, I got sunburned. For the first time in my life I had run long enough to get sunburned! This is not as easy as it sounds. In peak summer I just can't run long enough in the heat with the sun high enough to burn me; in winter it's too cold to run shirtless, and in spring and fall the sun generally is not high enough to generate a burn. As is my typical reaction to a burn, I got mad at myself and then drank huge quantities of fluids to re-hydrate.

So what were the results? Twelve miles in 91 minutes, 42 seconds. A good run considering the hills, most of the course was on dirt or gravel, and I had to wait at several intersections and dodge traffic a couple of times. Average pace was 7:42 a mile.

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