Sunday, September 15, 2013

Training By the James

With the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon just three weeks from today, making each training seems more urgent.  Yesterday's training was on a particularly gorgeous day - high 50's when we started, and not a cloud in the sky - a fine contrast with all of the hot and muggy days we have been out there.  And we combined a beautiful day with one of my favorite routes - along the James to the Pony Pasture.  We started near the University of Richmond instead of at our usual place at Byrd Park, so it was just a couple of miles to reach Pony Pasture Park.

Our mission moment Saturday was from Leslie.  She spoke of how it has been 8 months yesterday since her husband Ed died.  The Crawlin' Crab race will be on his birthday, which is why I picked that race.  I cannot even imagine what an emotional day it will be for Leslie when she gets up that morning and puts on the race clothing to run in memory of her husband with his sisters.

One of the pleasures of being out for an early run or walk in Richmond is running into old friends.  A few weeks ago, I saw my friend Nicki, who is training for the Richmond Marathon.  She is one of my "February Miracle Girls."  Yesterday, I ran into Jamal, who I had not seen in a long time.  He was out running with some kind of "SEAL Team" thing.  Jamal spoke at my very first Team in Training informational meeting.  I was hesitant because I didn't think I could raise the money necessary, but he told me "You can, and you will!"  And he was right.

Our route started almost immediately over the new Huguenot Bridge.  It was my first time on foot over the bridge since it was replaced, and is quite an improvement over the old one.

Once over the bridge, the route was along Riverside Drive.  For some reason, I had the least miles of anyone out yesterday, just six miles, which felt pretty good.  I mixed in a good bit of running for the first five miles, and it felt pretty good.  I enjoyed all of the river views.
After about two miles, I reached the Pony Pasture Rapids.  It is part of the James River Park system, and there is a nice park there with hiking trails and a good bit of wildlife right in the city.  I've described hikes there at this link and also here.
At this point in the river, an old dam appears to have had a section dynamited out, I think to allow sturgeon to spawn.  These huge fish (up to 10 feet long) have been seen in the James right in downtown as they try to swim upriver for spawning.
At the three mile point, it was time for me to turn around.  But first, I had to do something.  For each of our routes, we were supposed to do a specific action at our turn around point.  Mine, believe it or not, was to dance a jig.  I happened to arrive at the same time as one of my running teammates, so she caught a video of it.  Do I know how to dance a jig?  No, so I ad-libbed.  She may post the video on the web.  I am not sure that we should subject the world to that.

I had done almost all of my route by myself, so it was nice when, with about a mile to go, I caught up with two teammates who had turned back because they had somewhere to be at 9:30.  They had done three miles at that point and I had done five.  I saw them way ahead of me coming back along Riverside Drive and tried pretty hard to catch them so I could say hello.  Once I caught up with them, I adjusted my pace to walk back to the parking lot with them.  It was a nice way to finish a great day of training by the James.

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