Someone told me that Saturday's run time was going to be earlier, so I said what, 4:30? No wait, better 3:30 in the morning. Today's trek was a scheduled 12 miles and it is coming into the time of the year and the time of the training where we roll back the time a bit to beat the heat and allow people to get done at a good time. I'd been warned to take it easy, I've had a big month with the attempt at Little Rock at the beginning and the successful if exhausting first trail run at the Snake Run last weekend. But as I woke up and heard The Proclaimers "I'm gonna Be(500 miles)" on the radio, I was thinking I might just could do the whole 12.
Seems I was only partially joking as I ended up splitting the difference and started at 4 in the morning. I was just getting geared up at the River Trails West start point when a couple of others pulled up and we chatted for a minute and then we each took off.
Soon, I was left alone in the darkness. My headlamp broke a few weeks ago, after Little Rock, and I haven't had a chance to replace it, so it was just me and my eyes with the occasional switch on of my handheld flashlight.
The early morning darkness precluded some picture-taking, but I tried my hand at a few shots anyway. The city lights take on a whole new quality when as the city slumbers and its these times that I enjoy running and listening to the city's restive pulse, long before the day begins.
It always amazes me when I think about where our runs actually take us. The diversity and distance of these treks really leaves me in awe, thinking, 'did I really do that?' What possesses a big guy like myself to get out and push himself to do things that "normal" people consider crazy. I mean even if I called all this a "walk"... Me: "I'm 400 pounds and I just walked 7 and a half miles up and down some pretty good hills this morning because I think it is fun." Normal Person: "You're nuts, stay away from me." (The preceding is not representative of any actual conversation I've had, but a scene in my head only. Thank you).
So, the first part of this journey I recall from a previous training run. Over the river and down by the hospital, so far so good. At my first mile, I was greeted by the big neon Route 66 sign and I was in good spirits. I pressed on. Coming up to Charles Page Blvd, I was thinking about all the times in Little Rock that I would walk down to the viaduct and watch the trains go by, wondering what their destinations were and thinking about the Arlo Guthrie song, "City of New Orleans". As I passed over the tracks there, a train was passing beneath me and I paused, for that moment, in 2 times and places at once... or so it seemed.
I turned back north for my last push in that direction for the day. I would pass through Owen park and past the oldest house in Tulsa... Still too dark to take pics of that, but I did manage to get a pic of downtown from the park as dawn was starting to creep across the sky. Still had a big uphill to go so I took a moment to fuel and drink something. I figured that this was where the waterstop would be, but I was just out too early for that and I wasn't going to wait around. So up the hill I went.
Now the last time I came up this way, I honestly don't remember what the path was, but it seemed like I just kept going and going this time. I don't remember taking the turns I took, but I guess I must have. Finally, I got well up into the subdivision there and made my easterly turn. I crossed the pedestrian bridge over the Tisdale and realized that it was shaking... kinda like that bridge in Little Rock. Hmmm... Might need to remember this. Finally, I was back out on a street I had run a few times. Heading down toward Cains and more familiar territory, I was certainly starting to feel my legs and feet getting tired. But I wasn't done yet. The morning twilight was starting to brighten into a grand day as I passed Cains Ballroom and I realized that I was doing pretty good on time. My first 2 miles had been great times, but maybe just a little fast. I was still in the groove passing that spot, but I could feel the endurance starting to slip. I was coming up on my 5th mile and I started thinking about how I might need to cut this short. I could have just backtracked down 1st street until I got back to the Bridge I came over earlier. That would have been the quickest way back, but I wasn't ready to do that. Looking at the course map, I decided the best thing would be to just follow the course as it doubled back and cross the 23rd street bridge for a 7.5-8 mile trip for the day.
So I continued on. 500 miles, huh? Yeah... kinda felt like that. Push through it. My biggest obstacle now? Going down Galveston, the steepest grade of the path. As I came around mile 6, I was feeling real lean and a little nauseous, but a sudden realization struck me... Everything from here was better than I had done at Little Rock and I was still pretty strong. No cramps and I still had legs left, if not a lot. Soon I was to Galveston and I stopped to fill up 2 of my 4 bottles I carried with me on this trek. It was my only water stop, but I had planned well and was not abnormally in need of fluids. Just a little over a mile and I would be back to my truck, so no need to overstock here. Push. I was right, I didn't like the downhill portion. Uphill is for running, downhill is for skiing. No skis today.