Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Run in the Woods

Saturday Morning Run

Saturday is usually my long run day, and I usually run someplace along a road or a bike path, sometimes with friends and sometimes by myself.   Sometimes I'm on a training plan and have committed to a schedule and sometimes I'm just running because I love to run.  My mind opens up, I get into a rhythm and thoughts flow especially if there is no time or pace goal and especially if there is some new scenery.  I often start early.  In the summer months it is to beat the heat or at least stay out of the direct sun as much as possible.

I had a lot to think about on this morning's run, the most recent crisis is:


On Friday morning, Jenny texted me that she was going to be taking Barbie into the vet at 4:00 that afternoon.   She had not been eating very much food at all, had been throwing up a lot more and had been looking more and more thin.   A year and a half ago she had a cancerous spleen removed.  The surgery went well but the long term outlook was very uncertain since it was an aggressive cancer.  But, she came home from that surgery and seemed so much younger.  I think that surgery was the best money we have ever spent.  I've appreciated every day we've had with her since then, but know it's not forever.

I finished work early and thought maybe I would stop in at the vet's office if Jenny and Barbie were still there, about 4:30 and, yes, still there, so I went in.   We waited together for a while, then finally about 5:00 the vet came in to tell us about the ultra sound.  It didn't look good, they said.  Perhaps it could be due to an infection, however it was more likely cancer.  They wanted to do an x-ray also, but it would be about 5:30 before they could.  I left the vet's office so I could order some pizza for dinner and have it home so maybe we could eat a a little after 6:00??

The wait went on and on, and Jenny was not home until after 7:00.  No good news, just sad news.  They gave Barbie some medicine to help her feel better.

Later, that evening I took Barbie and Sammy for a slow "sniff and walk".  She seemed to be feeling a little bit better.  It was a nice quiet time under the stars, letting the dogs do what dogs like to do on a walk.

 The Actual Run

If a run can be boiled down to some statistics, here they are:  11.42 miles in 1:38:45, average pace: 8:38, slowest mile 10:15, fastest mile 8:06.  Start temperature, about 50 degrees.

But,it can't be, at least this one can't.  I'm often told that I'm a numbers guy.  I do work well with numbers, but they are not my passion, they are a tool.  It's too easy to rely upon them, there's so much more.

So, I started out at the "horse corral" in Starkey park because that is where I have started before.  I had an idea of which path to take.  It was cold enough to see my breath and a little too cold at the start to be wearing just a short sleeve shirt, but I knew I'd warm up soon.  I also had a hat with a small led light on it which gave me a little bit of light but not very much.  There was a pretty bright moon out, not full, but still bright.

Eventually, I could see hints of light up in the sky off in one direction.
As I ran through the dark on the trail, I thought about the time I was running with my brother at the Thousand Islands.  It was a cool and foggy night and we had launched the boat and were driving it to my parents cottage.  As we crossed the channel, a heavy fog came in and we could barely see where we were going.  There was a large freighter coming close that we could hear, and when it did pass us, it was maybe less than 50 feet from us, we got caught in the bow wake and rode it up and down.  So, we stopped and tied up at the Coast Guard station and then ran to the cottage from there, about two miles.  Some of it was on a gravelly road and it reminded me of the trail section I was on that was kind of like a packed dirt road.

I stopped and texted Jenny to let her know I had my phone with me, just in case (either something with Barbie or if I got lost).  She asked how my run was going, how far and if it was going to be all trails.  Yes, all trails, today is the day.


I made some wrong turns while running in the dark, almost ended up going back to where I had started from and almost ended up on the bike path at one point, but eventually it became lighter out and I could see the trail marked better.  There were still decisions to make.  I had a map with me but could not quite sync up with where I'm at vs. what the map was saying.  Looking at the sign below made me think about choices in life, go left go right, or maybe turn around?  For now I'll just go.  Back in May I was going to go on a trail run with a small group.  I was still at the beginning of my long drawn out Boston recovery and there was a foot ball game that the kids needed to go to, so that day, instead of the trail I ran up and down Starkey Blvd. for 11 miles, pushed the pace at the end and started making things worse.  I think the trail might have been a good choice for me that day!  But, anyway, I made it out eventually.  A little later, but better late than never.  Just a different route to get there.

The sign made a good spot to rest my iPhone and get a quick picture of myself.  I had headphones with me just in case I felt like music, but there was too much to enjoy and explore today, so I forgot about the music.

I crossed past the big power lines, made a couple small wrong turns, and finally decided to just try and basically run east towards the sun.   That started to work out pretty well, and I also started to recognize some landmarks that I had passed by before when running here with Sean.

The last wrong turn I made led me to a section of the trail that stopped at the Anclote river.  I had been here before and don't think I could have found it if I had been trying to navigate to it.

After the wrong turn that led me to the river, I backed up a little bit and came to a wide grassy intersection.  A stopped there for a second wondering which way to go.  It looked familiar and I knew I was close to where the 4 mile bike trail water stop was.  Then, I could hear some people talking.  I ran in that direction, emerging from the trail.  I saw Chris A. and some ladies he was running with.  They asked if I had been running on the trail - yes, and if I was running with Sean, no just me today.  Someone was asking about the trails and what they were like, if they were well kept or if you were just scrambling through brush.   I told them how nice the trails are and how most of it is pretty easy with just some mud or water here and there.  I used to have different images of what the trail might be like.  So far, everyone I've talked to who has tried the trail has liked the trail.

I turned back towards where I was parked.  If it took me the same mileage to get back, then I'd have over 13 miles.  I was only planning on doing 10 miles originally.  But, the path back seemed much clearer, and I was able to just go.  I didn't push the pace, but it was definitely faster than on the way out.  It felt effortless and enjoyable.  One of those special runs you wish could be repeated.

After the Run
When I got to my truck there was a text from Jenny to please put out the old kitchen table we were trying to sell, since it was a nice day out and several houses in the neighborhood were having garage sales.  I put out the table once I got home, then went out about a 1/2 hour later to put my cell phone number on the sign in case I wasn't around.  A lady was walking her dog and wanted to buy the table.  Wow, that was easy.

Thomas's belt test went well and we celebrated that night with a trip to BD's Mongolian Grill.

It was a good day, a day to reflect, a day to get things done, a day to celebrate and a day to be thankful.


  1. I am so sorry to hear about Barbie - we're all very sad and thinking of all of you. I'm glad you had your run - a run always helps when things are tough.
    hang in there