Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Magical Run

He pulled into an empty parking lot. As usual he drove to the back of the lot and parked facing the empty tennis court. It was early, before the Arizona sun had a chance to warm things up. Pat knew he was the first one to arrive and the only sound came from his engine and the bee gee’s on the radio. He turned the radio off.

Pat was happy to arrive first. It gave him a chance to check to make sure all his gear was ready to go. Some runners are gazelle’s and don’t need gear. Pat is more like a pack mule. Slow, steady and carrying all the supplies. He was what you’d call a back of the pack runner and was happy plodding along at a pedestrian 12 or 13 minute pace. He checked to make sure he had a full water bottle, several gels to digest during the run, his phone. Not that he planned to call anyone, but his wife always insisted that he carry the phone. Which was ok, because it’s a camera too and as a good pack mule, Pat knew that a camera always made the run that much more fun.

As if, on cue two cars pulled into the deserted lot. For the past few months Pat had been running with Lisa and Karen. The three of them made a good team. All ran at about the same pace. All were happy to add the occasional walk into the run. Today would be different.
Pleasantries were exchange. Stretching was ignored. Garmin’s were turned on and the three runners started to walk to the canal. The canal that for the next hour and a half would be there home. This canal that winds through the east valley of metropolitain Phoenix goes for 56 miles. The trio would only need 3 miles of it. The plan was to run north under the new freeway and up to the gas station. There they could use the restroom and maybe buy a Gatorade. Then they would run back down to their cars say their goodbyes and get ready for the rest of the day. A nice 6 mile run on a cool morning in November.

The canal was actually on the other side of a four lane road. As the group waited for the traffic to clear, a van approached. It was one of those vans that had what looked like a big box on the back with a chiller above the cab to cool it’s contents. On the side it read, “Papa Bear’s Magic”. The logo was weather warn, so you couldn’t read the slogan underneath. All three of the runners saw the logo and they looked at each other bewildered.

The run started and they soon forgot about the truck. The weather was perfect. The sun was just peaking over the Superstition Mountains in the distance. The trail seemed like it was going downhill. About a half mile into the run, Karen asked what the pace was at. She was concerned that she was running so effortlessly, maybe we should be running faster. Lisa looked at her garmin but didn’t believe it. Pat looked at his. Both of them, in unision said, “Nine?”. No one believed it. All agreed that this run was going very good. No one wanted to look at the watches again. As if, ignorance was better than finding out that they were going at a 13 minute pace afterall. At the one mile point, Lisa dared to look at her garmin and it read 8:45. Pat confirmed it and Karen said , “let’s go faster”.

They crossed under the highway and started to really turn their legs over. 8:30 turned into 8:05 and then to 7:50. When they got to 7:30, Karen said, “I think it said something about feet”. Both Lisa and Pat knew what she was thinking about, because they were thinking the same thing. “I saw magic” added Lisa. “Did it say magic feet?” asked Pat. The three flew past the gas station, that would not be the turn around point today. Lisa led the group across chandler Boulevard, in front of low rider 1978 chevy impala and northward at a 7 minute pace. The driver didn’t slow down and neither did the three runners. At the five mile mark they turned around. Not because they were tired, but because the light at Warner Road was red and they wanted to run. No one had ever ran as fast as they were running this morning. 7 turned to 6 and before anyone realized they were running a 5:30 mile. In unision, all three yelled, “The magic is in the feet”. Not, because they could read the weathered side of that old dirty van with the Oklahoma plates, but because they remembered seeing the driver mouth the words when he drove by.

That day the sun came up too soon, the run ended too quickly and the runners ran faster than they had ever run before. As the runner’s stopped in the parking lot, dripping with sweat and smiling like kids on Christmas morning, they said in unision, “that was magic.”

I was motivated to write that after reading the excerpt in Runner's World from the new book, "Return to Carthage" by John L. Parker, Jr. I hope you enjoyed it. Karen, Lisa and I did run this morning and we did have a great time, but there weren't any sub 10 minute miles involved. Karen is getting ready for the Big Sur Half Marathon, so we practiced her galloway run/walk strategy. We ran for 3 minutes, but it felt like 6 and we walked for 30 seconds. We continued this the entire 7 miles for the most part and ended up running 85% of the time. I think Karen will do great at Big Sur. Visit her blog and give her some support.

My Calf

So, at the end of our 7 miler, I decided to sprint. Normally, this is good. Not after I took Friday off to rest a sore calf. My left calf hurt a bit the whole run. When I sprinted I felt a pull. It hurts much more now. I've iced it, elevated it and will rest until it feels better. I might not run for the next 2-3 days.


I don't do this every day, but I try. I pick up trash. No, not that kind. I'm married. When I'm running or walking I try to pick up trash at least once a day or once every other day. If everyone did this, we'd live in a cleaner world. I'm running out of things I do for the environment, so I might start talking about things I'd like to do.


Pokey said...

Pat - you have a WILD imagination!
I was cracking up reading your account of today's run. ;)

But on a serious note---

I never in my wildest imagination thought I would run 7 miles, let alone feel this good afterwards! You and Lisa are the BEST! I wouldnt have made it this far without you guys. :)

(end of mushy post)

So lesson learned? Next time you wont say "race you to the balloon" in that taunting, playgroud tone? :P Sorry the sprinting backfired a bit. I'm sure just a little rest will fix you right up!

That is quite a downer to the Olympic trials today. We didnt get home until after 12, so I missed it - I guess it was on at 11. I guess now I am glad I didnt watch. :(

Irene said...

That was great! Who knows? It could happen. ;)

cheryl said...

Why did you take down the comment about the runner who died today in New York running the Olympic trials? I thought it was great of you to mention it, but now it's gone. Just wondering.

Pat said...

Cheryl - I thought it deserved more than one line.

cheryl said...

Oh, good call, Pat. Thanks for clarifying. After I had read the news on aol yesterday, I was searching all over for any other news about it, and thought maybe other runners would be talking about Ryan's tragic death. You're right, he deserves more than just one line.
BTW... I really enjoyed your running story!

Jeff said...

Pat -- you continue to crack me up! Be careful with that injury -- don't want it to turn into something much worse. Don't screw with PF's!

Moon said...

LOL, I loved your creative writing piece! Great job on the run - you always make it sound like it'd be a lot of fun to run with you guys. I'm totally jealous :)

J-Wim said...

Thats awesome. I think I have a line on the original book - ne Runner- and I am so excited!
Actually, my BIL has a line on getting his hands on a copy of a copy, but I am hoping he shares with me!

J~mom said...

Great story Pat!!! You are too funny!!! What are you predicting for our next run together?

Thanks for being our fearless leader!!!!!