Sunday, September 18, 2011

No More Excuses For Not Running

I dug out a pair of my running shoes the other day and it took me two separate visits to two separate second hand stores, but I eventually found a pair of Nike running shorts for 50 cents.
I had shorts, I had a t-shirt, I had running shoes and I had my mp3 player which meant I had no more excuses for not running.
And so this past week I went running three times.
Early this week it was overcast and cooler than it had been in days - almost 15 degrees cooler and I walked out of the cottage excited about the prospect of running again and running in the Tennessee country side.
There was something very cathartic about the mountain views and wide open spaces of Wyoming, but there is also something very reassuring and familiar about this kind of terrain.
I spent so many years training and racing in this through the Virginias and the Carolinas and Kentucky and Ohio and Tennessee and north Georgia and Missouri.  Maybe others I can't remember right now.
I know this terrain. 
This terrain and I belong to each other because we have come to know each other so well.
And so I ran early in the week in the cool and later in the week in the hot and the humid - each time on country roads close to the cabin.
I spent 90 minutes the first two times and then two hours yesterday relishing the quiet, the trees, the shade, the green, the rolling hills, the wild flowers that are still blooming.
All just to get my feet wet and to reacquaint myself with an old friend.
Leaving the cabin I turned right out of the driveway, ran on flat black top for about five minutes before climbing and climbing some more to get up and out of the "holler".
I had biked up this set of hills a couple of years ago.
It climbs straight and gradually at first, becoming more steeper, reaching a tightly banked uphill left curve in the road, and then yes, climbing a bit more.
By the time me and my bike arrived at the banked left curve I was always struggling (but making) the hill.
It was a killer on bike and sucks just as badly on foot, and I ended up walking half of the hill.
These pictures were all taken during my first run early in the week
It was so cool that I could hardly believe it had been in the mid-80's only a few days before.
But Tennessee weather can change on a dime.
I have seen it be 70 degrees first thing in the morning on a day in January and be 28 degrees by 5pm..................
Yesterday was a very sunny, very hot and very humid day and as LC settled down with Jamie for an afternoon nap I headed out the front door of the cabin, turned right as I did two other days this week and struggled to come to terms with both the hills and the humidity.
For the first twenty minutes I felt overheated and queasy and my heart rate was all over the map.
Somehow I knew that I was going to be cutting this run short.
But surprisingly I ended up spending two hours wandering around on up-til-now unexplored black top roads - loving the scenery, the goats and cows and canine guarders of the herds.
I took many pictures and will write more on that run another time.
But at the end of it I ran to the driveway, walked up the driveway to the cabin, sat down on the front porch for a few minutes while my heart slowly settled back down to a  more normal level and then wandered back into the cabin still overheated.
I had not felt that way since I left Tennessee.
What way?
Sweating while exercising but sweating even more once I had stopped. 
Walking to the refrigerator and searching for carbs - stuffing a banana and then cookies into my mouth as fast as I could eat them. 
Not eating a lot but struggling to eat just enough to satisfy my body's desperate need for instant energy after depleting stored energy during the run. 
Washing up and then collapsing into a sound sleep for a short period of time.  Again, the body's desperate need to recuperate from a hard workout.
All of those were as familiar to me as my own face when I lived in Tennessee.
So was a constant circulation of wet and drying and dry work out clothes hanging over the shower curtain rod in the bathroom.  Running clothes replaced by biking clothes replaced by different running clothes.
Paddling gear drying on the bushes around the porch in the back yard.
An entire way of life I had taken for granted.
I woke up from a short nap the other day, walked into the bathroom and smiled to myself as I looked over at drying running clothes hanging on the shower curtain rod................
One of the many things I always loved about adventure racing was that it was a perfect sport for older athletes.
It is a thinking man's sport.
It requires multiple skills and strategy and patience and pacing and in-the-field experience and team-work and of course some luck.
I have seen wonderful athletes and athletic teams implode on the trails because of bad team dynamics.  Lose because of bad luck (a sprained ankle or a major bike mechanical) or because of one costly navigation error. 
The fastest does not always win.  The athletic team who works best together as a team, who has luck on their side and who makes the fewest mistakes on the day usually wins.
Even something as simple as the wrong food choices out in the field can make or break a team.
I was getting ready for a 72 hour race in West Virginia a few years ago.
It was only an hour or so before the start of the race that was set to begin at 10pm, and my team-mate Mike and I were doing last minute packing of our race packs.
We were both sitting at a bench organizing our packs that were on the floor in front of us, and directly across from us was a young four person co-ed team (three guys and one girl) doing the same thing.
Mike and I were both in our late 40's and these young people were all in their early 20's.
They were all from Annapolis Naval Academy and were in obviously outstanding physical condition.
I watched them with to-be-honest a good deal of envy because I didn't look that good even when I WAS in my early 20's.
They were neat and organized and focused and as serious as you would expect young naval officer-candidates to be, and as I continued to watch them I saw one of the young men laying out all of the food he would be carrying for the duration of the race.
He had his Clif Bars and Power Bars are layed out in straight neat rows, and it was obvious that he knew about the "100-200 calories every hour" general rule because he was counting out his food.
After observing this ritual for a couple of minutes Mike and I just looked at each and we both knew.
These well-conditioned athletes weren't going to finish the race.
Mike and I had been doing this for years and had learned from many mistakes, as had so many other racers that we knew who had been at it for a while.
And one of the things we had learned along the way was that nobody could eat Clif Bars and Power Bars for 72 hours.
That after a few hours of intense physical activity these young athletes would be chewing each bite of their energy bar for 10 minutes, and then taking large drinks of water in an effort to choke it all down.
That when you are working that hard for that long, what foods you can stomach changes drastically with each passing hour.
That a handful of Pringles, or a Kit-Kat bar, or a cheeseburger picked up from some hole-in-the-wall mom&pop restaurant in Podunk West Virginia is good not only for the stomach but also the soul when you have been slugging away without sleep for 30 hours.
They didn't finish the race.
But we all learned that and other lessons the hard way and they will too...............
Old farm equipment used for decoration in Tennessee the same way that old wagons were so commonly used as yard decorations in Wyoming...........
There are still many types of abundant wildflowers here, even this late in the year..............
An architecturally beautiful piece of old farm equipment.
I found it buried deep in the grass and weeds of a field alongside the road..............
I have no idea what this is............
LC and I have done some work around our house in Tullahoma this week including a good part of yesterday, but cannot seem to find the dead-beat tenants at home.
They are still there - items stored in our storage building in back of the house, remnants of a girl's birthday party in the garbage can etc.  There was only supposed to be a woman and two children but apparently a man moved in a month after the lady and kids moved in and we were not told about him.....................

So............this blog started out as Living the Juneau Adventure and then turned into Wyoming Wind Songs.
I have no idea what to name this thing now so until I figure that out I guess it will stay as Wyoming Wind Songs...........

It is Sunday and the libraries are all closed so I am blogging from a McDonalds Restaurant.
A few tables down from me is an old man and what looks like his three grandchildren with him.
He is singing Johnny Cash's "Burning Ring Of Fire" to them:

Flowers growing on the okra plants, in front of the cabin.............

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