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Aaron's Crazy Race Diary - 2008 Day 29

Running Alone Can Be Fun…
Saturday, May 17, 2008
8 Days Until Bolder Boulder

With only eight training days to go before Race Day, I decided to up my training a notch by seeing if I could run the long trail – 6.7 miles – twice in a row. Today I felt good and I knew it was nice out because I already had walked the dogs after raising at 4:00 am. Having just 3½ hours of sleep wasn’t a plus but, as usual, once I was up, there was no going back.

I got to the trail at 5:30 am and started off at an easy pace. I hadn’t run the trail by myself in some time and enjoyed the tranquility. It was light out and the Sun had started its ascent so I knew it might be a factor later in the run. The last time I had done this I finished at 93 minutes and had to walk a good portion of the route. I expected to do better today. I knew I’d get tired quickly but I also felt my slightly lower weight would help.

When one runs alone and there are no signs of human life, the mind can play all kinds of tricks. Mine started thinking about mountain lions and what I should do if one crossed my path. I had seen mountain lions in the Boulder area and was guessing they didn’t come quite this far east although there were animals upon which they could prey. At 6’5″ and 200 pounds, I figured I could handle any large kitty. Then again, given the shape I was in, I might be seen as a tasty treat.

As I ran, I felt good. I knew my pace was slow but I was moving steadily. Best of all, I didn’t feel any of the total body exhaustion and system-wide milieu I had experienced in recent weeks. Maybe I was making progress after all. That would be nice.

There was no wind at all and today I liked that. The temperature was about 45°F when I started and easily hit 50°F by the end of the run. Both were OK. I knew I liked it about 10°F cooler for my best running but this was OK. The path showed some signs of the recent moisture we had but was only muddy in a few inconsequential spots. It was easy to stay on firm, dry ground the entire time – and I did.

As I climbed the easy and the tough hills, I was pleased at how relatively easy everything seemed to be. “Relative,” however, these days meant I simply was able to do it and not die. I’d take that today.

A few runners headed in the opposite direction (i.e., towards me) passed by and we exchanged greetings. On the way back, I saw a group of three women running together and that was it. For how nice it was, I was surprised to see so few people the entire time I was out on the trail.

Two-thirds of the way through the first half of the route I saw a blue heron fly by – looking like a cross between a giant pileated woodpecker and a pterodactyl. It was so graceful yet looked massive in size.

I made it to the start of the hill going up to the water tower – usually my Waterloo – but I dug in and kept going. I wanted to do the entire run without stopping just to prove to myself I could do the slightly shorter Bolder Boulder.

I made it to the top of the hill just as another runner came from behind. Had I not turned to run around the water tower before returning, he would have easily passed me. I had not heard him behind me at all but that wasn’t surprised given my heavy breathing — which covered noise even better than my self-absorption.

In the past, when I was in shape and was running back, I picked up the pace considerably, especially given the fact there were some good downhill segments. This time I had no desire to sprint so I took it easy. I managed the ups-and-downs of the return easily but at a slow pace.

One difference was I noticed some pain, similar to a shin split, in my left leg. I slowed down and tried to “work it out” and that seemed effective for several minutes before the pain came back. I knew I could tough it out for the remainder of the run and was more concerned it could be some condition which affected my ability to run the Race in a week.

With only a mile to go, I crossed a little bridge over Boulder Creek and noticed two large Canadian geese. They were 100 feet away and weren’t moving. This was strange behavior for most geese. As I got closer I saw two tiny, fuzzy yellow chicks. It was a little family of four.

My problem was the path was narrow and fenced it. There weren’t a lot of places I could go. And I was aware that geese protect their little ones – as all of us do – and can be quite physical in their defense. Channeling Dr. Doolittle, I started speaking to the geese and later described my effort as “talking them down.” I slowly walked past as one of the geese lowered its head and took a bead on me. “Oh great,” I thought. I could see the headline now, “Goose massacres talk show host.”

Fortunately, my talking had helped and the family scurried off to safety after I passed by and they concluded I was no threat to them. I stopped after about another 200 yards so I could watch some varmint surface in the small lake adjacent to the trail. I didn’t want to stop so I decided to keep running after I realized it would take longer to figure out what the animal was,

Sprinting the remainder of the way would have been advisable but I didn’t have it in me. I finished and checked my time. It was a decent 82 minutes – not what I had hoped to . And I knew I would break 80 soon but tomorrow’s run now looked daunting because I knew I’d be tired.

At home I took care of the four pups and got Holly up. We were supposed to go to see “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” this morning. It is the successor to “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.” I loved the first movie and was looking forward to the sequel more than Holly.

For breakfast, I ate a spicy chicken sandwich with extra mayonnaise and a couple of glasses of milk. I also drank the rest of the Arizona ice tea. The run had made me thirsty. I made Holly a simple breakfast and then we headed out to pick up my sister Leah and her son Joel.

At the movie, I ate almost an entire large bag of popcorn and put some kind of oily substance on it which was a substitute for butter. I knew it was going right to my arteries – coating them with some gross congealing substance which would transform into plaque but I kept munching anyway.

The movie was great! I enjoyed it more than the kids did. It was a very emotional film, especially if you were invested in some of the characters, as I was, it was a real tearjerker at points.

Afterwards, we headed to Joel’s house for a while and then went home. I made lunch for the kids and had another chicken sandwich slathered with mayonnaise along with some cottage cheese and pineapple chunks as well as several hot biscuits I baked at Holly’s request and some carrot. With milk and seltzer water to drink, I was full quite quickly.

I worked while the kids played. Leah kept busy by cleaning up in the kitchen – mine desperately needed all the help it could get. I worked some more, walked the dogs, and ended up having more milk, seltzer water, and several pieces of Muenster cheese. I felt so full from the junk I had eaten earlier in the day that, by 5:30 pm, I knew I wouldn’t eat anything else today.

The big news was a small helicopter had crash landed at our corner – Arapahoe Road (emanating from Boulder) and North 119th Street. The pilot wasn’t injured but it was a sudden reminder of what could happen when one lived near an airport (Erie Municipal Airport). My experience was that most pilots were courteous and careful. My understanding was that, in this case, the problem was mechanical in nature and, fortunately, the pilot suffered only minor injuries.

I spent the rest of the day doing farm chores, answering e-mail, and doing document preparation for the TV show. Holly fell asleep early and before I knew it, it was 7:30 pm when she got up and wanted dinner. I made her meal and then worked some more. I had hoped to see Cedric the Entertainer who was performing in Denver tonight but I long ago abandoned the idea. By 9:00 pm so I decided to call it a day, work-wise. I knew I had eaten too much today and was curious how well I would do on the run tomorrow.