Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dirty fun on Father's Day

Mirages on the trail: great performance from a road shoe
Today's run (Stillwell Woods): 4.15 miles

Happy Father's Day! It's great to be able to celebrate the day with my family and not face an early morning commute tomorrow. Vacation week awaits. The only downside is that I've been suffering with a sinus headache since yesterday morning. It's the the kind of pain that doesn't really respond to analgesics like ibuprofen and the only relief I've had since it started has been a clear head for an hour or so after my runs. I made a trip to the drug store and picked up some decongestant with pseudoephedrine -- the good stuff you get from behind the counter. Even with that, plus a short nap and some headache medicine, I'm still feeling some pain and pressure.

It's been over a month since I've hit the trails so I headed to Stillwell Woods this morning for a change of scenery and surface. It was still below 70° when I started out among a large contingent of mountain bikers who were readying their equipment while I ran by. The shade of the woods kept the air fairly cool and I ran well. Not especially fast, but with good form. I wore my Mirages because the course I chose was not especially technical and I wanted a shoe that was low to the ground to help me maintain my forward foot stride.

The Mirages did really well with that and they even handled the sandy, scree laden hills that I ascended a couple of times. The sections I ran without tree cover revealed that the heat was rising but it still felt less humid than yesterday. Through the run, I was passed a couple of times by bikers. They gave fair warning and politely thanked me for moving to the side.

The recent wet weather has produced an abundance of grass and plant growth. This was most apparent on the dirt path that rings the open field, connecting my route back to its starting point. In winter and fall this trail is clear and open but this morning I literally had to run it by feel because of the high grass on each side overgrew it. It wasn't a problem but I checked for ticks afterward.

After two loops around my route I headed back to the trail head and noticed the parking area was thick with cars. Today was the end of the kiddie soccer season and people were aggressively swooping in to park wherever they could find room. A woman in an SUV saw me and clearly understood that I needed a few minutes to recover from my heated run. She politely said, "If it's okay I'll take your spot when you're ready to leave. Take you time." I quickly gave her the spot and then spent 20 minutes working my way to the exit. It was quite a circus, complete with tents and a bounce castle.

My run at Stillwell was great for a couple of reasons. First, I felt really good on my run and enjoyed the feel of the trail underfoot. Second, my more upright, mid-foot stride felt easier and I was better able to appreciate the beauty of the woods as I ran through them. I even got a respite from my headache while the endorphins rushed in, affirming the reason why we runners love to run. Hours later, I'm happy to have this pseudoephedrine to get me through the rest of this sinus pain!

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