My delayed long run of 10 miles proved to be a good way to start the week, despite compressing my schedule for this week. I employed a ratio of 10 minutes running to 30 seconds walking throughout my 103-minute session. My focus was on quick foot turnover, striving for four steps or more each second.
I got some stares with my Invisible Shoes, and I also got a slight abrasion between the big and second toes on my right foot. (Most likely from a pebble that lodged itself between the strap and my toe webbing, but it's fine today.) The Towpath was a bit puddle strewn, and I enjoyed watching others play dodge'em while I plowed right through the water.
After my turnaround, I saw three long and lean young guys racing effortlessly toward me. I had a feeling I'd be seeing them again.
The evening was fairly cool. The recent rain had pulled the moisture out of the air. This was my longest run of the year so far. I felt good as I passed Szalay's farm on target for my goal time with three miles to go.
Where the Towpath borders a series of sweet corn fields, and the sounds of predatory birds and gun shots fill the air, my premonition was verified. The three men flew past me again.
While I was pleased to note that my footfalls were nearly in rhythm with theirs, they still floated by me like I was walking. After a few minutes of trying to keep pace with them, I was walking, as my watch alerted me to my 30-second break.
It was nice having that extra motivation to pick up the pace, and thankfully a new impetus arrived. Shortly after my walk break ended, I heard some heavy breathing behind me. My racing instinct engaged, and my pace surged.
Thinking about it now, I remember this same scenario happened in reverse on my way outbound at nearly the same place on the Towpath. An older gentleman was walking ahead of me as I approached, and he suddenly started running and darted away from me. My walk break soon arrived, and I lost him for good. Now, it was my turn to return the favor ... to whoever was behind me.
My pursuer's breathing was loud and labored. No way was that going to pass me. The evening shadows fell in a way that allowed me to see a good 10 feet behind me without looking. The mouth breather wasn't close enough to see, nor would he ever be.
We approached a gaggle of women walkers. I gathered my composure and said loud and cheerfully, "Passing on your left." No hint of exhaustion was in my voice. After I passed the four walkers, no hint of the heavy breather was behind me. I dared not look back.
I exited the Towpath and started the climb up to where my car was parked. I removed my huaraches when I reached the smooth sandstone sidewalks of Peninsula, Ohio. The previous week's training finally was done.