Monday, August 1, 2011

Night Ranger

The headlamp bore a tunnel of light through the unforgivable blackness. Sand Run was deserted, save for the fluttering insects and invisible wildlife and the occasional car driving on the parkway.

The light strapped to my forehead was just a cautionary device up until the dark park, warning passing cars to my presence on the West Akron roads on a cool Sunday night. The temperature and humidity had dropped to comfortable levels, allowing me to finally fit in my long run.

The first few miles were rough, as my legs felt sluggish from Saturday's five-miler on the trails, despite walking long portions of gravelly terrain. The steep hill descending into Sand Run seemed to knock off the rust, reviving my legs for the rolling hills of the park's multipurpose path.

I saw a park ranger drive by, as I cut my singular swath of light through the summer night. Suddenly, I feared that I was out past curfew. Did the park close at dusk or 11 p.m.? Up ahead I saw his brake lights flash, as he approached a driveway where I thought for sure he was stopping to wait for me.

I kept expecting to hear a startling command out of the blackness: "Halt! Park ranger! Put your hands up or I'll shoot!" The long interrogation of who I was and what was I doing in the middle of the park at night and are you a rapist or a racist. When I got to where I figured he'd most certainly parked his Range Rover, nothing was there.

The paranoia had quickened my pace, I noticed, which started to worry me, as I had a long, desperate climb from the end of Sand Run back up Akron's West Hill area, passing Stan Hywet and arriving home near Highland Square. Nine miles complete.

Regardless of the hills or capping my highest weekly mileage yet this year or last week's slow long run with a 11:36 mile pace or the painful chaffage from the previous day's run or full stomach from dinner, I ran my fastest pace for any distance farther than four miles.

August arrives with two solid weeks of revised marathon training. Here is last month's statistical rundown:
  • Total Miles: 59 miles (14 runs)
  • Total Time: 12:05:53
  • Highest Weekly: 22 miles
  • Average Weekly: 14.75 miles
  • Average Pace: 12:17.61 (blame the bare feet)
  • The Monthly Dif: -10 miles (69 miles in June)
July's tally features fewer miles, a slower overall pace and less overall time, but I still ran more often with two more runs compared to June. Converting myself to a barefoot runner required me to slow down and back off on some longer runs as I strengthen my feet to handle the mileage.

This week, my soles felt a bit beat up, so I wore my Brooks racing flats without the insole for last night's run. I'll likely get a pair of minimal, zero heel drop shoes to help me complete long runs as I try to work up my barefoot tolerance for those longer distances.

6 comments:

drdaven said...

Congrats on the months totals!

BrianFlash said...

You barefooters are starting to suck me in...

Not a bad month for this heat!

Carolina John said...

You know that beard is a dead giveaway for "pedophile". Park rangers beware!

Nice month dude. Well done.

BarefootJosh said...

Racist or rapist? You can only choose one?

Robin said...

Running at night is so freeing because you can get lost in the sounds (and get super paranoid). Congrats on the running - I've broken into double digits, but mostly at driving age (16), not drinking age weekly totals.

B.o.B. said...

did i miss where the park ranger was looking for the bear who keeps stealing the pic-a-nic baskets? ;)

nice stats. i dunno how you barefoot peeps do it, but i'm impressed.