"It's a little self indulgent..." - My mom
"After I read a sentence, I get mad at myself for caring what you're doing." -Karl Dusen

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Facing two fears

Friday afternoon, I became a little more flexible, philosophically. After years of resisting treadmills, I was faced with a difficult decision- try, and possibly die, running seven miles outside in 97 degrees with suffocating humidity, or run on a treadmill.

After stepping outside to feel just how bad it was, I opted for the treadmill. It wasn't fun- I tried to watch the television in the console, but the earphones gave me little electrical shocks in my ears, so I switched to my mp3 player that was possessed by my sweat and plays what it wants to. I managed four miles averaging 7:00 pace and then had to wring my shirt out, because despite the air conditioning in the gym in my building's basement, it was hard work, and I was soaked. Two more miles, under 7:00, and I wrung the shirt out again. One more mile and I was done.

Though it wasn't great, I probably will end up using the treadmill for some miserably hot or humid days to complement outdoor runs over the next six weeks or so, just to save my body some trauma and my psyche from the grind.

After a day's worth of air travel Saturday, I arrived in Reno for a conference. I was free for the rest of the day, so I hung out for a few hours until 7:30, when the weather cooled down. I wanted to run in the foothills to the east, so I headed out that way, looking for Cleanwater Street, which would possibly take me there. Upon arriving, a sign told me it was a dead end, so I went north, looking for the next road that would take me there. I found Greg Street, so I went with it. The split that I took at what turned out to be 3.2 miles told me I went 6:20 pace, and it didn't feel that fast. It was amazing how much better I felt in the dry air in Nevada.
I hit a trail that looked to take me into the foothills after 28 minutes, so I took it. It followed the Truckee River, and eventually ended, though I hoped it would take me to a bridge I saw in the distance. I had given up on the foothills, or even running through the valley, but I wanted to make it to the bridge. I figured it was about 42 minutes out from the hotel. I decided to hop on the train tracks and try to reach the bridge. I just recently got over my fear of train tracks, almost 10 years after the passing of my friend Conrad Frazier, who was struck by a train.
I was cruising along, then I saw my second fear:

A g-d rattlesnake. It scared the living crud out of me, hissing and rattling and stuff. I leaped high in the air and did a karate kick, just in case he could jump too. He did not, and we both rushed off in opposite directions. I picked up my pace to get to the bridge and back to the trail, and believe me, I was vigilant in looking out for him the second time around. Terrified, in fact.

I figured I had gone at least six miles out, though it turned out to be a quarter mile longer, and after eight and nine miles I was feeling pretty good. The best part was that I wasn't drenched in sweat. I was dehydrating, certainly, but it was a pleasant dehydration that didn't bog me down with its byproducts. I slowed down for the last mile or so and ended up averaging 6:37 for 12.5 miles, feeling a lot better than I had in weeks.

The next morning I woke up at 6 to run a 40-minute tempo around a reservoir and get 10 total in before a day of work, but during my warmup I could tell I hadn't rehydrated from the flights and the run less than 12 hours before. I tried the tempo anyway and made it about eight miuntes before I packed it in and just explored Reno or a while. It's a little skanky, and Sparks, where I ran on Saturday, was mostly buildings for lease.

Ending note: It's been a bizarre week for Pittsburgh's West End, which I have come to love over the last 18 months. I haven't been able to ruminate completely on the murder of Lauren Deis because the details are just so revolting and I haven't really been able to settle my mind around it, but there was some good news. Reprinted from the Tribune-Review's Laurels and Lances:

Laurel: To saving the Old Stone Tavern. Pittsburgh's second-oldest building -- at Greentree Road and Woodville Avenue in the West End -- appears to be on the road to restoration. Thanks to a historic designation, the two-story brick structure dating to the 1780s can't be torn down. It once served as a toll house and might have played a role in the Whiskey Rebellion. Kudos to all those behind the effort to preserve yet another piece of our marvelous history.

1 comment:

  1. If I ever cross paths with a rattlesnake on a run, I'm pretty sure I would have a heart attack and die on the spot.

    If your schedule permits you should try to make it to Lake Tahoe... it's pretty close to Reno and SO amazing there.