A Mid-Winter Tale

02.14.2021 - By RunRunLive 4.0 - Running Podcast

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The RunRunLive 4.0 – A Mid-Winter Tale  (Audio: link) audio:http://www.RunRunLive.com/PodcastEpisodes/AMWT.mp3] Link Hello folks this is Chris.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find the time to podcast this week.  I don’t know about you folks but I’ve had a crazy couple of weeks.  Actually it’s been pretty crazy since before the holidays. I won’t bore you with the details but my job has been super time consuming.  I’ve got calls starting in the morning every day and also in the evenings. And you know the morning time is my writing time.  But, I’ll give you an update.  I wrapped up my week of training last week with a stellar 30K long run on the roads.  We got more than a foot of snow and it was too soft to do a multi-hour long run in.  I was worried about switching to the road so abruptly. And I did pick up a little soreness in my plantar, but for the most part it was a great run. Let me tell you the story. I set out from my house in the direction of the rail trail in the next town over.  I figured if the snow was going to be packed down and passable anywhere it would be on the rail trail.  I can get to the midpoint of the trail about 10K from my house, so I headed out nice and slow in that direction.  It was a sunny day, no wind, but pretty cold.  I did my errands in the morning and waited for it to warm up a bit.  The roads were dry but with the snow there were some places where the shoulders got a bit skinny.  I wanted to avoid too much hill work and stay on back roads.  I wore my vest with the two 500ML mammary bottles under my outer layer because it was in the high-teens, low twenties.  After the previous week’s bad adventure with the spoiled gel I decided to go full ultra-fuel and keep it simple.  I made a nice organic peanut butter and honey sandwich on Dave’s 21 grain bread.  I cut it into 3X3 chunks – so 9 bite-size pieces and threw them into a plastic bag and stuffed them in a pocket.  When I got to the trail It was impassable.  I stopped to eat a couple pieces of sandwich, take a drink and figure out what to do next.  As I was standing by the side of the road, basically having a stand up picnic, cars kept stopping and waving me across.  And I was like, “no, I’m not crossing.” I finally had to scootch back into a driveway to stay out of their line of site.  I figured I was an hour in and felt pretty good, so I’d just keep going east and see where I ended up.  I vaguely knew where I was.  I headed out through the back roads of Westford and east into Carlisle.  Babe Ruth lived in Carlisle when he played for the Red Sox.  Eventually I came to a main road.  I was trying to figure out where I was. I only needed a few more minutes, so I mentally flipped a coin and turned left.  I’m glad I did because in a couple hundred feet I came upon Great Brook State Park.   This is a good-sized park in Carlisle that I’m familiar with having mountain biked in there a few time.   I learned that I am about 9 miles away from the park crow-fly if I take the back roads.  Which is cool.  With the snow, they had opened it up as a snowshoe and cross-country ski venue. The place was packed.  On the east side they were selling tickets to get in and ski.  I asked if I could go into the trails on the west side where people were snowshoeing.  They said it was ok. The trails were packed down and perfect for running and it was beautiful. The sun was high and families were out.  I just ripped around in the woods for a few minutes. Then I popped back out on the road and headed back home after eating some more sandwich and taking a drink. Really beautiful day. On my way out I had noticed that it was apparently trash day in Carlisle because all the trask cans were out at the end of driveways. I began playing the beer can game that I like to play.  The way this works of course is that you pick up a beer can that some a-hole has tossed out the car window and you drop it in the next trash can.  I felt pretty good now, still running well.  Not fast.  But well.  No crash.  Good energy.  And I crossed back into Westford.  As I was coming back through Westford, I got cocky.  I saw a brown paper bag in the snow bank and figured I’d throw it out.  It turned out to be a empty fifth of vodka.  Which is a good-sized bottle.  And a glass bottle too.  Then I see a Bud-light tall boy and grab that too. So I’m running down the road carrying an empty vodka bottle in a brown paper bag like a football and a big beer can and I realize “Oh Crap!” it’s not trash day in Westford and there’s no place to put these.  I went on for a mile or so like that looking in peoples’ driveways and such, but eventually gave up and put them back into the snowbank.  I chose and obvious place at the corner of a neighborhood figuring someone would pick them up.  Ce’st la vie. As I was heading up Powers road towards my house I realized I was going to be short on my planned time so I re-routed through the Nashoba Mountain ski area.  It was packed too.  I guess the virus is afraid of heights.   I stopped at the kiddee slope to see if I could find my running buddy Bob who is a ski instructor there, but I didn’t.  I kept going, starting to get a bit leg-tired now, out through the back to the tubing hill.  It was a perfect day for tubing.  Plenty of snow and cold enough to keep the snow fast.  Of course the tubing hill was packed as well.  As I churned through watching the kids rocket down slope, I thought about how we would do this when I was a kid.  We’d grab something totally dangerous, like a cafeteria tray or a trashcan lid or the hood of a VW and we would break our necks sometimes.  Even our official sledding implements were super dangerous.  My family had a 6-person toboggan.  There was no controlling or turning these things.  You just went until you crashed into something.  I can remember falling off the toboggan mid run and getting my foot caught in the rope and being dragged down the hill at high velocity on my face.  We had these things called ‘flying saucers’ that were plastic disks that you sat in.  They had no steering or padding or anything.  You just went until you wrecked.  But the pros had sleds.  The old Flexible Flyer.  You sanded down and waxed up the steel runners.  Then you hauled ass down the hill face first on the sled.  You could steer them a little bit and at high enough velocity you could sort of Tokyo drift around the corners.  Anyhow, that was what I was reminiscing about as I wrapped up my 18.6 miles.  I had not planned to run a 30K.  I was just running by time.  It was serendipity.  Felt pretty good.  Didn’t eat the whole sandwich.  Wasn’t sore on Sunday.  Ran an hour with my buddies the next day.  Good weekend effort.  … Work being so crazy and time consuming reminds me of another story.  This one is a SCUBA story.  Anyone know what SCUBA stands for?  Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. In my 20’s I used to go diving for lobsters off Halibut Point in Gloucester.  I had a bunch of hand-me-down SCUBA stuff.  But we never went deep and never more than one 80 tank.  So we really couldn’t get into too much trouble.  I remember one afternoon; my buddy Keith and I went out.  We had to hike a bit out through the state park to get to the shore.  It’s a good place to lobster dive because the shore is rocky and drops off quickly to 30-40 feet. And by rocky, I mean big chunks of granite. Like refrigerator size.  To get to the water you had to climb down the rocks and jump in.   Now, if any of you know anything about SCUBA diving you know there’s a bunch of equipment involved.   You have the tank.  A hose comes off the tank and connects to the thing you put in your mouth, called a regulator.  The regulator allows you to breath off of the tank. Then you have your mask with a snorkel attached.  The water in the Atlantic off of Gloucester is pretty cold, even in the summer, like 60’s.  So you have a wet suit. You wear fins so you can propel yourself.  All good so far. But the part that non-SCUBA folks don’t get is that you need buoyancy regulation.  Any of you triathletes know that if you have a wetsuit on you float.  With the whole point of SCUBA being the underwater stuff you need some way to overcome the floating of the wetsuit.  The way you do this is to strap a bunch of medieval looking lead weights to a belt around your waste.  The lead makes you sink.  Which creates the opposite problem because you don’t’ want to get stuck on the bottom. What you want is to find that perfect buoyancy where you neither float, nor synch.  This is where you have that last piece of critical equipment, the Buoyancy Compensator.  This is like an inflatable life vest you wear.  So, the way it works is, you inflate your BC – Buoyancy Compensator, jump in, snorkel out to where you want to dive, because you want to save your air for the dive.  Then you put your regulator in and start deflating you BC until you sink.  Easy peasy. I remember on this day the weather wasn’t great and the surf was pretty high.  Pounding on those rocks.  Makes it a bit tricky to get into the water.  You have to get in, put your head down, use the fins and power out through the surf. Which is what I started to do as Keith was on the rocks behind me.    It didn’t take long for me to realize that I had forgotten to inflate my BC.  So, instead of snorkeling out through the surf, I was snorkeling straight to the bottom with 35 pounds of lead.  Lucky for me, and I suppose you, I’m a pretty strong swimmer.  Because I panicked.  Nothing like in haling that first big gulp of sea water to put some adrenaline into the system.  The smart thing to do in these situations is to drop your weight belt.  It’s got a quick release on it.  And then put your regulator in your mouth so you don’t drown.  I didn’t do that.  I treaded water with 35 pound of lead in the washing machine surf until I could get some air in my BC.  The surf tore my mask off me.  I caught glimpses of Keith looking distraught trying to decide whether he should come in after me.  And, not to spoil the story, I lived to tell the story.  We retrieved my mask and went back in to see if we could catch some dinner.  But, that’s how I felt at my job this week.  Like I was treading water in the heavy surf with 35 pounds of lead. But, I’m older now.  I don’t panic as much.  I’ve traded stoicism for panic.  Here’s a tip for you.  You can download a translation of Marcus Aurelius’’ diary for free.   It’s basically his morning journal.  He was the last of the good emperors.  He was a stoic.  And yes his son was Commodus, who, yes, liked to pretend he was a gladiator.  But, Russell Crowe did not kill him.  His wrestling partner Narcissus killed him.  And finally to take you out, I heard a great piece of advice from the Olympic runner Alexi Pappas.  It’s the ‘rule of thirds’.  It says that if you look at any part of your life, whether it’s your work, your workouts or your relationships – a third of the time they are going to be good, another third of the time they are going to be OK, and the final third of the time they are going to be crappy.  The key is to realize this when you’re in the crappy spots.  For those of you who like math that would be a normal distribution.  So my friends that is my race report for you this week.  What shall we call it?  The Lost Pirate 30K?  The Tired Turkey 30K?  The Old Man 30K? Your choice. We’ll see you out there.

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