RUNNING IN THE COLD AND DARK.
I am reaching my limit on the treadmill, and that probably has something to do with the two races last week I did. I am finding myself getting impatient and bored, so today, after checking the outside conditions, I decided on an outside run. I have done a few early morning outside runs since getting back to running a couple of months ago, but none since the new year started. I have been slightly fearful of falling in the dark or on ice, understandably, but today, leaving from the gym, the sidewalks were clear and dry. The temperature was in the 20s, with a windchill of 10, but really no wind, so it was very tolerable. (Its a dry cold :)).
I also feel somewhat safer in the downtown area, at least in the morning hours, since it is better lighted most places, the sidewalks for the most part are always clear, and the police department is within a couple of blocks of the area. Most people out and about are either hustling to jobs or school. The traffic is lighter, so usually the wait at traffic lights is shorter too.
Today, though, I didn't think out a route thoroughly, so found myself going in circles, meandering up this street, down that one. My only real plan was to stay out 30 minutes.
The air was cold enough to make you breathe heavier, but not so cold I needed a face mask. I started thinking of the pacing issue. Maybe its a guy thing, but when I go out to run, either just a normal run or a race, I don't think what pace I will run. I only think what time or how much time I will run. But when listening to Don and his buddies talk about what they are doing, its always what pace they will run a specific route, as in "we'll run 7:30s for 14." I just can't figure that out and put it to practice. If a run 3 miles in 30 min. (I wish), I would be able to figure I ran a 10 min. pace. But for me to say I am going out and running a 10 min. pace, I'm not sure I really know how that feels automatically. If after a 10 minutes I have run a mile, I know what that mile pace is. Make sense?
So I just ran. Past the delivery guy for our building, startling him as I zipped by in the semi-dark. Past Starbucks, where people were lined up already for their lattes or grandes or whatever it is people who go to Starbucks drink (straight, black, decaf, please). I did a loop around the area we call Monroe Center, where the new Art Museum is going up, and the skating rink, which is now dark. Not too many people out along here, and some guy lurking it seems in a doorway steps out as I pass and asks for a light. Yeah, right. Let me shuffle those cigarettes and lighter out of my pocket. I just shot him a look that said, "get out of my face."
On past the police department, where a couple of cars were heading out on their morning shifts. Around the block and past the old Y, now dark too, waiting for some buyer to turn the place into condos. Past the art school, where it looks like they are setting up the cafe for the morning rush, and then back towards the gym.
On a whim, and with still about 15 min. to go, I headed out across the river, passing a construction worker wearing a hard hat and face mask. Hmm, that could be scary at another time. I decided against running through the Ford Museum grounds, even though the walkway is well lit, but the river path within the grounds is dark at this time of day and just a little too close to the river for my comfort in the dark. Instead, I crossed over to the Grand Valley University campus and ran through there, the campus still dark because of the Christmas break. I look at my watch and see time is crawling along. I really am ready to be done, even though I've only been out about 20 minutes. I'm not too cold or tired, just running out of options on where to go next. When it is dark, I feel more limited in where I will run.
So I decided to head back to the gym, crossing over the river again, looking upstream at all the bridges lit up. It really is quite pretty in the dark. I have options on where to cross the busy street to get back to where I need to be, and catching one light, I move to the next, and the next, and the next before I can safely cross. Even with my Iluminite jacket, I am invisible in the dark to manic drivers in a rush to get to work early, and am not going to risk crossing, even with the light, without extreme caution if there is a car waiting to turn. (We have turn on red.)
When I finally cross the street and head to the building, it has been 26 minutes since I went out. Not as long as I had wanted, but I didn't feel like circling the block again. This way, if I get the chance this evening, I will have enough left in me for a short swim. In the now 74 degree water. I figure I better get in there before they lose any more heat or I will be chipping the ice away to swim.