Sunday, March 14, 2010

Just For the Hill of It!

I have no photos from yesterday’s training. It had rained the evening before and all night, and threatened more rain Saturday morning. My ubiquitous camera was left safely at home, along with my cell phone. But it was mild – mid-50’s – and so I wore shorts, a long-sleeved top, and a tee over that.

Why is it always so cold at the lake? The wind blew gale force, geese were frozen into the pond, and small song birds dropped from the sky coated in ice. All right, it wasn’t really that cold, but standing around shivering in shorts waiting for people to arrive, it sure felt that way! Eventually our team gathered – me, Nancy, and Beth along with our three coaches. Where is everyone else? Meanwhile Betty, already wearing long pants, a top, and a jacket, went to her car to put on another layer. I wonder if she has a parka I could wear? As she returned, I thought of how quickly we warm up once we (a) move and (b) get the hell away from this accursed lake.

Eventually, we decided that the six of us was it, so we got moving. Coach Walter said that our route, the second half of which I have never done before, will involve hills. There were indeed hills, but what it didn’t involve was a bathroom. I really could have used a bathroom. The nice, brand new one at the park was locked up tight as a drum, as it always is. Why did they bother to build it? Sure, it is beautiful, but why build a bathroom building that is always locked? Maybe it is a monument to bathrooms everywhere, kind of like a statue: to be viewed but not used (other than by pigeons). Someone said that they must lock it at night. Given some of the things that clearly go on around that park – which my blog is too delicate to discuss in any detail – I can understand that. But as I said, gesturing at all the daylight, “does it look like night?”

We ran on, going past some other lakes. In a few weeks, spring will be busting out. The rain held off, and for now, so did any accidents caused by tightly locked bathroom buildings. Walter and I were going a little faster, so we pulled ahead. I did my run and walk alternating pace, the mark of a true runalker. “Any bathrooms around here?” I asked Walter. “Maybe at the Carillon,” was his reply. So while he went on, I ran over the Carillon and past Dogwood Dell, checking them out fruitlessly. Oh well, grin and bear it. I linked back up with Walter, and we headed down the steep grade of Pumphouse Road. It is very pretty back there, and the pump house is really neat. I remember running here, but up the hill, last spring with the Nashville and Shamrock team. “Glad we are not going uphill,” I said. By now, the cold-feeling start was long forgotten, and I stripped off my tops – one advantage of being male – and put back on just the tee. I was soaked from sweat but there was still no rain.

As we reached the Nickel Bridge, I shifted to walk mode. Partway across, Walter suggested that I start running again, and run up the hill on the other side of the bridge, so I started running again. I started heading up the hill. I climbed. And climbed. My quads burned. It was so steep. We passed a caravan of yaks, while mountain sheep watched us warily. I climbed. We passed the mountain sheep. I climbed. A vulture soared by at eye level. Will this hill ever end? I was tired but didn’t want to go back to walking until I got to the end of it, assuming there was an end. I crossed snow covered peaks. Still, I climbed. The James River was a tiny ribbon far below. Hey, what’s the chance there will be a porta potty at the top of this hill? I reached the crest of the hill, and changed to a walk, my breath labored. No bathroom awaited at the top.

I made the jog to the left past our water stop, then ran downhill along the river, enjoying the pretty views, and the first sight of daffodils in bloom. A large contingent of the Urkops 10K Training Team labored uphill coming towards us. “Glad that it not us,” I thought to myself as I shifted back into a run. Within minutes the grade bottomed out and began to climb. Oh well. We passed numerous other people out running. When we completed our loop back to the bridge, we met the rest of the team emerging from the clouds at the top of that hill. Beth was nowhere to be found, and we assumed she was up ahead in the loop. Coaches Chuck and Walter went to look for her while I continued the rest of the way back to the park by myself. It was uneventful, other than seeing the first pink blooms of a couple of cherry trees. Spring really is coming!

Back at the park, I was greeted by Beth and Cate. “Hey, Beth, Chuck and Walter think you are a couple of miles from here across the river!” I said. Cate called off the hunt with her cell phone, and soon enough we all gathered at the park, along with a few of the Team in Training 10K team. Another successful training, with some hill work thrown it! That will be important, because Seattle is supposed to be hilly!

Okay, the hills were slightly exaggerated in my account, but they felt like it at the time. Last night and today, I notice that my left knee hurts, and my glutes are slightly sore. I need to keep an eye on the knee pain, because I have noticed that from time to time as I run more. So I will take it easy with the running this week, walk a bit more, and see how it works out.

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