After two more snow days last week I was eager to take advantage of Friday’s rising temperatures, but there were still difficulties to contend with: namely, 30+ mph wind gusts and lots of unmelted snow and ice.
I decided to reduce the wind shear by running in the local state park. All of our usual trails were covered in deep snow, but the paved roads were plowed. Since I had no idea what the mileage might be, I decided to just run for a couple of hours. Kind of like one of my long treadmill runs, only with better scenery.
The challenge, of course, was how to keep going when every pass by the car would provide a temptation to stop. After one short loop, I decided to tackle the longest possible out-and-back route within the park and see what kind of time that ate up.
Imagine my surprise when I arrived back at the car exactly one hour – to the minute — after I’d begun.
Suddenly, instead of a shapeless, unstructured run, I saw the possibility of an experiment. What if I duplicated this route exactly, using that run-walk method employed by some of those marathoners who’d beaten me at the Maple Leaf Race? It didn’t matter if I didn’t know the exact mileage. The only question was whether it would take more or less than an hour the second time through.
I grabbed a handful of Combos out of the trunk, noted the time on Ben’s old bare-bones running watch, and headed out. Running in 4-minute increments, I let myself go as hard as I wanted. Then I walked as quickly as possible during my 1-minute “recovery” period.
There was no timer I could set to alert me to the time intervals – or if there was, I didn’t know how to operate it – so I had to just keep an eye on the watch. Before long, it seemed easier to take it off and just hold it. That was irritating. But it was interesting how chopping this run up into segments made it seem to go faster, whether or not that was true.
The stretch that leads to the park’s entrance is a long straightaway that, on a previous run with my sister, seemed to take forever. That was also the case on my first out-and-back loop. But this time, I couldn’t believe how much quicker the gatehouse came into view. I wondered if maybe I was just getting more familiar with the course. But I was also getting excited, really pushing on the run segments to see if I could make it to this tree or that post before my 4 minutes were up.
As I passed the lake and finished up a walk break, I realized I might only need one more running interval to get to the car. That became the goal. Even so, I was stunned to get to the “finish line” just as the watch turned to the 53-minute mark – 7 minutes faster than on the first loop, despite walking every fifth minute.
Now as tests go, this one wasn’t very scientific. I have no idea how far I ran, or what my pace was on either loop. And I must admit the second loop felt much more like running intervals as hard as I could go rather than a mindset of, “Well looky there, my minute is up, time to break into a run.”
Still, it was a great workout – and it turned a potentially crappy run into something fun.