Of the 9.3 miles, about two of them are on relatively flat ground, the bulk of the course involves a steep three-mile descent into the Cuyahoga River valley on Quick Road and a malicious climb back up on Northampton Road.
Aside from the topography, it's a wonderful run, full of pretty scenery with ravines, trees, snow-covered fields, bounding deer and the occasional flock of wild turkeys. Since I would not be racing this course this Sunday, I decided to run it yesterday. But at a decidedly slower pace than last time.
Quick Road is steep, winding and narrow. I love driving on this road, but running on it when it was not blocked off for the race felt a little dicey. Thankfully, it is not a heavily traveled road and the few cars I encountered tracked widely around me, perhaps to avoid being blinded by my fluorescent yellow and orange running gear.
My goal for the run was to keep my stride short and focus on turn-over. With the steep ups and downs, that wasn't difficult. However, when the terrain leveled and I had the urge to speed up, I caught myself trying to lengthen my stride instead taking faster steps.
At times my mind would flash back to last year's race: Martini and I flying down Quick Road, the man and woman who kept yo-yoing me on the hills on Northampton and finally the man in the sleeveless windbreaker who didn't pass with authority. It's a shame I'm going to miss the race this year.
Running the course by myself gave me time to appreciate the scenery. There were times I was wanted to stop and take pictures -- and if my phone's battery weren't dying, I would have.
On Akron-Peninsula Road, during the stretch between Quick and Northampton, I spotted three deer running in a field off to my right, they made a wide S-curve and then two of them bounded across the road about 100 feet ahead of me.
The third one must have gotten distracted because I spotted it darting around some trees. I worried that it too would bolt across the road as soon as I got to where the other two had crossed. I looked to my left and saw one of the two way up on the hill, looking down. Soon I would have to climb a similar incline.
Occasionally, while driving to work in this same area, I'll see a turkey walking by the side of the road. Usually, they're pretty scrawny, not something you'd want to plop on the table for Thanksgiving dinner. However, as I was plodding up Northampton, I spied a whole flock--about a dozen in number--of turkeys in front of a house. All of these big birds looked meaty and scrumptious. Alas, I passed them by, though, not without the temptation to give chase.
I finished the run at just over 10 minutes per mile. I felt strong after the long climb and probably could have pushed my pace a little more. But after not running since the Sunday before, I didn't want to push my luck. My calves and thighs are sore today, though in a good way.
Thus ended February. Here is last month's statistical rundown:
- Total Miles: 46 miles (9 runs)
- Highest Weekly: 24 miles
- Average Weekly: 11.5 miles
- Average Pace: 10:25.18 per mile
- Longest/Fastest Run: 9 miles, 10:13 pace
- The Monthly Dif: -7 miles (53 miles in January)