Tuesday, June 25, 2013

STR: Day 16 (Running... with hills!)

Tuesdays are becoming my 6+ mile mornings, apparently. Last Tuesday I headed east, into town, running around the park. This morning, I headed west, out into the country, running to a friend's house and back, 6.62 miles, an extra .36 miles compared to last Tuesday. My pace was a little slower--8:42--but I managed the last half of the run faster than the first half, so that's something. My first mile was actually an 8:30 pace... so what happened?

In a word: geography. This run was basically the same as the one I ran last Thursday (Day 11), just with another country mile added to the out and back. That seemed like it would be easy enough, until actual geography intervened. You see, it turns out that the nice, [mostly] flat run that I did on Thursday turns into a bunch of hills a half mile after where I turned around. Hey runningmap.com, how about a heads up there? And who put these hills in Indiana, anyway? I'm pretty sure "Hoosier" translates to "one who doesn't do hills." The scenery was great though--woods and rolling pastures--even if I didn't particularly want to be running through it. No doubt the hills slowed me down though, in part because of the actual effort of going up hills, and in part because of the mental drain that comes with knowing you have to run hills. These weren't nearly as bad as what I encountered when I lived in western Pennsylvania, where I'd nicknamed one hill "soul crusher."

At the same time, it's amazing how my mood lightens as soon as I get to the middle of the intersection I was headed for and turn for home. My steps felt lighter, and although the hills may not have been any faster going in the other direction, the next mile after the hills definitely was. It took me just over 29 minutes to get to where I turned around, but my total time was 57:37. Isn't that fascinating, though? I mean, I've just run 3+ miles, so my legs aren't exactly fresh. And I've got another 3+ miles to go, so it's not even like the end is that close--at my pace we're talking 29 minutes of continued running. Yet as soon as I started heading for home I felt better, stronger, faster, like the whole thing was easier. It's all in the mind, all in the mind--so how do I make the whole dang run feel like that? Shouldn't that be possible?

"It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so make a few objects beautiful. But it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts." --Henry David Thoreau, author, philosopher, and--who knew?--running coach

Also, that is some serious running hair there. Or maybe he's tapering for a race and he'll shave the hairdo and beard right before the big one. Go Thoreau, go!

But I guess if affecting the quality of the day is "the highest of arts," we can't expect it to come easily. Another run, another chance to try, right?

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