Friday, September 9, 2011

Peak of the Training Cycle

Wow!  Cool air greeted me early Tuesday morning as I walked out the door for my last long run - 12 miles - before the Capital City River Run Half Marathon.   It was simply glorious!  Extremely low humidity, too!  The winds were fresh and cool. 

It was just a little before 6:00 a.m. and still dark.  My headlight shone on the mailbox numbers and reflected off  the "cat eyes" - reflectors embedded in the center stripe of the road.  I trotted along, still trying to wake up and find my groove, when my light caught a rabbit in the street up ahead.  The cute little guy waited for me to catch up, then took off down the roadway, showing me how it's done.  Then it stopped, coyly looking over its shoulder at me, as if to say, "Come on, I dare you to catch up."  As I did so, it turned and took off again, running another ten yards or so, then stopping again to taunt me.  We stayed together this way for quite a distance.  Then it eventually turned and headed up a driveway, disappearing into the gloom of a front yard.  Thank you little bunny!  You paced me and got me going early in my run.   I needed that!

As the sky began to lighten with sunrise, I could see the dingy tan and gray horizon off to the west, dirtied by the smoke from rampant wildfires northwest of me.  I reflected on the dire situation here in Texas.  No appreciable rainfall since February, no hay or grass for livestock, no water for them.  Our lakes and riverbeds drying up.  And now dozens of wildfires, most of them out of control, all over the state, including two very large ones within an hour of Houston. 

My route then turned me east out of my neighborhood, away from the soot-stained air and into the rising sun.  It was remarkable how, even with the sun creeping up into the morning sky, the temperatures and the breeze remained cool and comfortable.  Very soon I was at my turnaround point at the Exxon gas station at the corner of Cullen and FM 518.  I was at mile 8 of my run and was feeling very good.  It's amazing what a difference lower temperatures and humidity can make!  Two weeks ago I ran this same route for my 11 mile run and by this point had put a serious dent in my on-board hydration.  Today I'd barely touched my hydration bottle. 

I turned around and headed for home - 3 miles to get there plus a detour to add another mile.  I visualized my upcoming race day, imagining that I was into mile 10 or 11 or 12 of the half marathon, imagining myself runing along the route, watching the mile markers go by, making the last turn toward the finish, and then digging deep to overcome the urge to slow down as the finish line came into view.  And then I was home. 

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