Looking back at my five last posts — spanning four months — I noticed they all deal with injury, pain, sickness or death. So here is a happy running post, thanks to my friends Ray and Rita.
“Ray and I, in our efforts to try and get back into shape — which is increasingly difficult when we’re at my parent’s house, aka house of sweets — have started to run,” Rita said in an e-mail on July 14, the French national day. “If you ever feel like taking a leisure run/walk around the park with us, let us know!”
On Wednesday July 22, I met Rita and Ray at the Brandywine Creek Park, a 933-acre island of trails, nature and peace about five minutes away from suburbia ugliness. I was looking forward a leisure run/walk, as Rita described it, after almost two months of sickness and reduced exercise. Rita and Ray, who had started training about 6 weeks earlier, seemed similarly eager to try their new Brooks Cascadia 3 trail-running shoes: blue, gray and black for her; yellow, gray and black for him.
Ray plugged in his Sansa music player and started running on the main trail at a pace that can be qualified in many terms except leisure: too fast for me is the best way to put it. I’m still a convalescent and didn’t want to push too hard, but the old reflexes and muscles kicked in: I followed him at a distance.
We stopped after about a mile and went off the main trail through a smaller, muddy one, up and down hills, jumping over tree trunks and fighting through the jungle of branches in the many spots where nature had taken over. During breaks and walks, Rita and Ray updated me on their progress. They try to run three times a week. On Fridays, they run as fast as they can for the stretch of the road, for about 1.5 miles, and time themselves. Once they reach their stated goals, they’ll move on to another challenge. I’m impressed with their plan: they mix discipline and fun, the best way to keep motivation fresh.
After a loop of about 5 miles (8 km), which took us about 1h10, the verdict was out: Rita and Ray loved their trail running shoes and I loved trail running.
On our next run the following Monday, I told Ray he’d started too fast for me on the first one. Ray said that’s because he thought I was right behind him. “In fact, it was my shadow,” he said.
It’s OK. I’m happy to trail.