Monday, September 22, 2014

Some Runs Are Just Better Than Others

My dad was a very big golfer. Well, I am too...and so is my brother, Tim, who is a club professional in Atlanta. Anyway, after my dad saw someone hit a good shot or do something out of the ordinary, he would yell out, "THAT'S the one that keeps you coming back!" No matter how crappy you might be playing, or how much you doubt your ability to play the game, there is always a perfectly played shot or a low score on a tough hole that makes everything right again.

My run today fit that category. It was fun and really awesome, and we need runs like that every so often. Even though I was content with most of my runs lately, they were all kind of the run-of-the-mill variety. That's one of the tough things about running, there is a lot of grinding involved. If we didn't have runs that stood out from others, it would drive us crazy!

So I had one of those. I headed out to Hawk Hollow Forest Preserve -- which lived up to its name as I saw a hawk flying around -- the home to my favorite route. It's the one I talked about the other day, a 3.8-mile round trip with a big hill in the middle.

I did something different today, I took a couple of pictures! I had hoped to capture the hill in all its glory, but my not-so-smart-phone's camera isn't the greatest. Oh well, I think this one is a nice one. The other two I took are a bit blurry so I'll just throw them on the end of this post.

You know, not that I have this pic posted, I shouldn't be so mean about my phone, because it was way darker than this photo shows! What it really does show is that fall is definitely arriving here in Northern Illinois. Just a few weeks ago everything you see in this picture was nice and green. This is actually at the top of the hill, and the path ends near the bottom of the hill you can see way in the distance. This is looking east by the way.

It was just a beautiful night. It was about 60 degrees, but at some of the low spots on the path it was really chilly and I could actually see my breath! But to me, the colder the better, and from the start of the run I felt great. This hill was a bit tough but once I got over the top of the hill I really started cruising.

I didn't have my watch with me (I usually only use a watch for long runs and speedwork) but from a "feel" standpoint I was probably under a 10-minute pace, and felt even faster than my race on Saturday. My stride felt a lot longer and my arms were swinging in a little more. One of my struggles as a runner is that my form is pretty good -- with the exception that I use little to no arm swing. So when they are moving and helping to drive me along, it's a good thing.

Not only that, I felt like I was actually running! Sometimes when I'm running my stride is really short and I feel like I am shuffling. Tonight I felt like I was propelling myself forward and there was a little air under my feet. It was a nice feeling...hopefully the more I train the more that will happen.

Once I got turned around, the view was amazing. Going west I could see the faint orange of the day's last sunlight at the top of the trees along the edge of the preserve. Above that the sky was crystal clear, and there were even a few stars, which living here are sometimes tough to see.

No doubt it was very inspiring. So I just kept going at my fast pace until I hit the hill (again), which was a little tough. Hey, it's hard carrying 250 pounds up a hill! But once I crested the hill and got going down the other side I got my mojo back and finished really, really strong.

What a great way to start the week! Looking forward to my next run tomorrow.

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