Saturday, August 25, 2007

Blackjack!

I went out to lunch today at the Ole Piper Inn in Blaine. Inside the restaurant there was an enormous gentleman proudly wearing a T-shirt that said in huge, bold letters:

“I’m out of bed and dressed - what else do you want?”

Seeing this made me want a customized shirt of my own that says:

“I am out of bed, dressed, got my shopping done, ran my errands, stopped for lunch - oh, and I have already run 21 miles this morning - what else do you want?”

That’s right, I said “21 miles.” Twenty + one. In French, "Vingt et un." In Spanish, "Veinte y uno." Or as the Vegas dealers would call it, “Blackjack!” :)

Today marks three weeks before the Walker North Country Marathon, therefore it also meant that I needed to do my longest training run to date in preparation for it.

I was blessed with a fantastic day for running. Temperatures were in the mid 60’s, with a layer of cloud cover. It felt almost cool and fall-like. Perfect weather for a long run.

I ran a very easy pace, and had an enjoyable morning on the trails and bike paths. I brought enough water and Gatorade with me (but I had money with me in case I had to stop at a convenience store!), as well as a veritable buffet of energy gels, Clif Shot Bloks, and Jelly Belly “sport beans” (just seeing what worked best...and the answer is “gels”). The run was steady, and my only stops were to tie my shoe, and to wait for a couple of crosswalks. Otherwise, I was moving the whole time. I was very happy with how it went.

There was some fun wildlife along the route. In addition to the usual suspect songbirds that I see on a daily basis, I noticed huge numbers of mourning doves that seemed to be gathering in flocks, obviously setting themselves for their southward journey. Also, I saw a giant red-tailed hawk swoop down from the trees and land on, of all things, the bird observation deck along side of a local lake. This begs the question, is the deck for people to observe birds, or for birds to observe prey? The hawk seemed to think the latter! :)

Also, I had a funny encounter with a deer in Snail Lake Park. I was running a trail, rounded a corner, and there was a doe standing at the trail’s edge. I startled the deer, as she raised her head, but she did not move. I started talking to her, asking “Hi! How’s it going?” (Yeah, yeah, I know...like the deer was going to respond!) She just watched me as I plodded on by. I was no more than 10 feet from her, but obviously did not feel threatened (after all, she is a city deer, and she sees people all the time, I suppose). That was fun, and I wished I had my camera. One thing I did notice was that her reddish summer coat was starting to disappear, and the gray winter fur is setting in. Another sure sign of fall!

And, when you run longer distances, and see fewer cottontail rabbits, it has a profound impact on the "bunny per mile" ratio. Today, it was a paltry 0.57 BPM... ;-)

Overall, it was a productive run, but certainly nothing fast (it took me around 3 hours and 40 minutes). Time goals were not too important to me. Time on my feet, however, was. Obviously, I felt a little tired at the end, but it was a good tired. I don’t feel sore at all, and as I pointed out on my fantasy T-shirt design, I am feeling quite energized, at least enough to go out and do some shopping and have lunch. I think I can talk myself into another 5.2 miles! :)

So now, as M.C. Hammer might have said if he was a runner, “STOP! Taper time!”

Yes, folks, I am breaking out the M.C. Hammer parachute pants and will be doing the “taper dance!” (Which could be interesting...thank goodness I live alone!) The hard training is more or less over with, and I will begin to reduce my training in order to be somewhat rested and recovered before the race. Hopefully, I have done enough!

Tonight, I plan on relaxing, and I will be tuning in to the NASCAR race at Bristol. This is Saturday night short track racing at its finest! Of course, My hapless Minnesota Vikings are playing at the same time as the race, so I will probably have to flip to that during commercials.

Ready to run,

Jean
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