Friday, August 3, 2012
Love Letter to the Ponds (July Recap)
It was one of those "I don't want to get out of bed" mornings. But my little 40-minute run with five 90-second pick-ups turned that around.
When I arrived at the park where I'm doing most of my outdoor running right now, I barely noticed its beauties. It consists of three man-made fishing ponds with a parking lot, picnic shelters and bathrooms on one side and the St. Vrain River on the other. The river side is especially pretty, the tumbling little river snaking through cottonwoods and falling over an old dam, and the ponds themselves are full of waterfowl (the egrets and blue herons are my favorites). It takes about 15 minutes at my warm-up pace to get all the way around the gravel loop. It's flat the whole time, perfect for someone coming back from an injury.
But this morning at 6 a.m. I was still half-asleep. Dan and I went down to Denver last night with some friends to see my beloved St. Louis Cardinals lose to the Colorado Rockies. I was all hyped up from the fun of seeing a baseball game--my first live one since my kids were born!--and didn't fall asleep until 11:30.
A loud splash brought me out of my reverie. I don't know what kind of animal I startled on my initial warm-up amble, but it woke me up. I began my jog, firing up the Casio. (I haven't used a Garmin since I began running again--Dan is pretty sure he lost ours. I don't know when I'm going to have to deal with that, but it's probably going to be soon.)
Gradually, awareness of my surroundings began seeping in. A rooster crowed. The full moon, sinking above the mountains in the west, faded from its initial snowy white to a pale cream color that blended with the morning sky. Ducks waddled awkwardly on land, plunging into the water where they became grace itself. My steps strengthened. I said hi to a couple of other regulars. Before I knew it, I was around the circuit once.
The second circuit brought five 90-second pick-ups. I had been too tired to worry about how I'd feel on them, a good thing since they felt great. Once thing I've noticed about the fartleks I've been assigned in the last three weeks or so is that I'm much less of a clock watcher with them than I have been with this kind of thing in the past. You know what I mean? When you think you must be almost done with the interval, and then you look at your timepiece and realize, oh, I'm only 1/4 of the way through? That doesn't happen to me much for now. It probably means I'm not going as fast as I used to, but I think it also means I'm doing them right.
Today, as I skimmed along, feeling more awake and alive with each step, I thought only about how great it was that I was in the shade for this pick-up, or on a nice straight-away for that one. When the run was over, I realized I'd gone further around the ponds than I have to this point. It was only seven and a half minutes of fast running, but it did the trick.
Four hours later, I'm feeling a little sleepy again, but also that I have the energy for the things I need to do today (including shopping for school supplies for kindergarten).
I'm eager to test myself on asphalt again, and hilly trails, and the track. I'm eager to run further. But I love my course around the ponds. It made for a July that, though I have no miles to tally and no races to report, was my best month since January and the Houston Marathon. So far it's making for a great August, too.