Thursday, February 07, 2008

Now It's On

My buddy Doe - well, actually, that's either "mybuddyDoe" [one word] or simply "Doe" - called me today. He's in for the 2009 WALT DISNEY WORLD® Marathon. Having never done a marathon myself; and with Doe having no distance running experience, I suggested that we two take on the Dist ... oops, my mistake, the ING Philadelphia Distance Run half marathon.

At one point of our chit-chat the subject of switching from "Happy Hour" runners to "Dawn Patrol" came up.

As I told Doe; I was always an evening runner [as he is now], until my daughter was born. While I was on 'family leave' my world was turned upside-down.

It gives me an excuse to dip into Los Archives

Wednesday, February 9, 2000

Well, I did it. I actually got up at 5AM - 5:10 to be precise - and did my run. It was not a good run by any standards ... I started too fast, had to stop a couple of times and cut it short at the end. But I got up and I did it. I have been setting the alarm for 5:00 since Monday, preparing to resume training, so I was ready when it went off. I laid my gear out last night so I knew what I was going to wear, depending on the temperature. Since it was 15° (yes, I broke the 30/90 rule ... it needed to be done), I went with long tights and sweatpants, hooded sweatshirt over a turtleneck, knit burglar cap, and Thinsulate gloves to finish it off. In spite of all this preparation, I couldn't find my running shoes. I haven't worn them in so long that I had no idea where they might have been. As it turned out they were under Donna's side of the bed. I located and extracted them without waking her up or even interrupting her thunderous snoring.

I got out of bed about ten after five. My first decision was whether to brush my teeth or NOT to brush my teeth before going out. Of course, I did have to put my lenses in either way, but the teeth didn't need to be scrubbed. Oh, come on ... you just can't leave the house with an overnight mouth. Besides, why waste that nice crisp pre-dawn air if it's just going to be all polluted by your morning breath mouth.

I didn't put any thought into it. I put in my lenses and brushed my teeth. Personally, I can't go more than 10 minutes after waking, without taking care of my dental and oral hygiene. Even in my whoring around days, "when and where can I brush?" was the first thought I had (after trying to remember the bimbo's name). The previous night, while I may have had no aversion to putting my mouth, lips and tongue in places they really didn't need to be; come the dawn, the funk had to be gone, preferable before breakfast.

After getting my clothes on, I had to stretch. Keep in mind that I haven't stretched in weeks. Critically speaking, I didn't stretch; I more or less "bent." Maybe "leaned." In short, I was very tight. As time goes on and I do this more often I'll get loser, that's the theory.

"Stretching" completed, hat and gloves on, keys in hand, I very quietly, nearly stealthily, I opened the door and stepped out into the early, early morning blackness.

Oddly (or perhaps not oddly) enough, everything has the same color and brightness - or lack thereof - an hour and a half before the sun comes up as it does 90 minutes after the sun goes down. It is just ten times quieter. When I stepped on the patch of frozen slush at the end of the driveway, I could hear the crunch echo all throughout the neighborhood. I half expected everyone’s lights to come on and all the neighbors to come out onto their porches in their bathrobes and shout " You there! Be quiet! Normal people are trying to sleep!"

There actually were a few people on the block who were already up and warming up their cars as I trotted past. I don't know who they are or what they do, but they're up early, too. They're up because they have to be; not because they choose to be. Not like this wacky little runner guy.

I got out of our side of the development all right. Sort of shuffling and starting to breathe heavily. I thought to myself, "That's normal. That's how it starts. After all you haven't run seriously for about a year."

There were no cars out yet so I was fee to run right down the middle of the street. This seemed the safest way, since I knew it was clear and I could really depend on my neighbors at the beginning of the development (the front) to have done a really great job of shoveling. There were no cars in the development or the next one over. I could hear solitary vehicles going by on the two highways our development sits between. A truck, a big truck, a small car, a big car. They all sound just a little bit different from each other. By listening to them fade in and out and noticing which direction the whooshes came from I could almost tell how fast they were going. If I were more of a motorhead like some of the folks who live down here, I'd be able to tell the make, make, model, year of each one as well as how many miles it had on it and when was it's last oil change. There are some down here who could probably claim to tell you what color, and how many chicks the dude had in the back seat.

That's a talent.

I had plenty of time to listen to the sparse traffic since I had to slow down a couple of times in the neighboring development. I was getting pretty winded. I'm sure I was going too fast, too soon, as much as I tried to hold back, tried to keep the reigns in. Some guy as walking his dog ... while I was just walking.

As I exited the other development, I made a decision.

This was my first time out. I would be out again tomorrow. I gave myself permission to cut it short. Instead of going all they way around our development and back in the side entrance, I could just come back in the way I went out; clipping off maybe a half a mile from the route. It would still be a good three miles ... not the four miles I did with no training or background when I started running back in 1982; back with Mssrs. Fissler, Moran, and Carmody.

All in all, I finished strong, no kick of course, but nice and sweaty. My heart rate was only 132 at the end so I wasn't really working that hard cardiovascularly. There's a term that's fashionable in training circles these days - perceived effort. It's not how hard you worked, but how hard it "felt" This morning three miles felt like 10. It's a start.

I finished in front of the house, under the streetlight. A foreshadowing of when I finish under the lights in Kona. The sky was just starting to turn blue ... a very dark blue, almost a navy, but a blue just the same. All the stars were still out, trying to stay awake just a little longer before El Sol woke up and outshone them for the rest of the day.

It was just 15°, but I was dripping sweat from my forehead. My hands were hot and sweaty, too. I took off my hat and I could tell by the shadow under the streetlight that my dewy hair was standing straight up like an uncut lawn in summer. I wanted to check my reflection in someone's car windows, but they were all frosted over.

It was nearly six o’clock when I finished my cool down walk around the block. There were signs of life returning to the street. Bedroom windows glowed blue then red then orange then blue again as residents woke up, turned on their TV and searched for last night's scores or a weather or traffic report they felt confident in. Once you find a reporter your trust, you kind of stick with her. A guy I work with has a weakness for weather and traffic girls much as I do for nurses. He's stayed with one girl through three stations and a switch from traffic to weather and back (Dorothy Krysiuk) My heart rate was back down as I again snuck up to the house. The snow crunched again, but not as loudly this time. It seems that the approaching dawn stifles echoes as much as the dark of night enhances them.

The temperature inside the house felt like a hundred degrees compared to the sub-freezing snap outside. Truth was it was only a 55° difference. I started sweating all over again. I took off my sweatshirt and got a glass of cran-raspsberry juice.

It was 6:15. D'Kid wouldn't be up for an hour yet.

"Let's hit the showers."

Muchas gracias, mi amigo 'Doe' ... Now. It's On.

[for best results; PAUSE Led Zep. Thank you. R.]

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