So Close

Today was supposed to be a swim day. But, the base pool was closed, and I missed the morning session at the Y. Flexibility being the name of the game, I went and ran Bluff Point on my way home from work. And it was almost, but not quite, a good run. Which has me completely pumped for my next running day (Thursday – it’s a dual sport day, so I fully expect to die.). I have so missed the fabled runner’s high during the last couple weeks of difficulty.

There were moments during the run when I felt as if I could potentially nudge over the edge and into endorphin fueled-bliss, but I just couldn’t quite get there. My guess is that it’s the pseudo cold I’ve had since Sunday (probably because I didn’t wear a hat on Saturday’s ride) holding me back. The run in and of itself was pretty decent. The paths were all solid but not frozen hard, the temperature was tolerable without a jacket, and it wasn’t raining, though it was threatening.

While I haven’t investigated any of the funky running methods other than the bit I heard on NPR about Chi Running, I have been working a bunch more on smoothing out my form. Dianna talked about sucking in one’s butt today, and Mark’s going crazy with the stuff, but I’ve got the old trial and error (mostly error) working for me.

On Saturday while riding, I noticed that my pedaling style had completely and totally gone to crap over the winter. I was stomping each pedal stroke down into the bottom of the crank arc and jerking each one up into the top rather than pushing down, scraping the mud off at the bottom, pulling up, and kicking forward like I do when I’ve been riding for a while. While running today, I realized that I’d been doing much the same thing running lately – kicking out the front foot, striking with my heel and knee locked, then lurching up as my extended leg scribed an arc under my hips lifting a (decreasing but) sizeable mass up about 4 inches, then pushing off a little bit so I could get the next leg extended in front of me.

After one of my walk breaks today, I concentrated on smoothing out my stride. Rather than waiting for my foot to strike earth, I kept each stride consistent, pulling my foot back at the same point in each step regardless of the ground condition. I would then count on the earth reaching up to catch my foot and allow me to extend behind me and push off, at the same time I was beginning my stride, sure that the earth would catch my stride.

The other observation I had today came from watching a rabbit I’d scared (tell me you wouldn’t run, too, if you had a red-faced, puffing, semi-overweight white boy bearing down on you) take off into the bushes. Once she’d come up to speed, her “cruising” pace looked completely relaxed. Sure, there was extreme effort and power when her furry feet contacted the ground, but while she was airborne mid-stride, she was relaxed. Confident, I’m sure, that the ground would rise up to meet her feet.

By the last mile, I’d gotten closer to that spot at which running approximates flying. Like I said, I didn’t quite get there, but I was close.

There’s always next time.

Well Enough Alone

Pool’s closed today, so it looks like I’m running on the way home. But that’s not why I’m here. THis is:

The folks who sponsor Milan – San Remo are a bit disturbed that it ended, again, with a group sprint. So they’re looking to change the route, to add a couple more mountains so the sprinters, most of whom are notoriously bad climbers, can’t drive the race at the end.

They’ve done this before, apparently. The Poggio and the Cipressa are two pretty decent hills near the end that were added in the 60’s to shuffle up the results a bit. And it’s not unheard of to re-route races just to keep them interesting.

But in this case, I’m a bit upset. Petacci yesterday had to make a heck of a ride for a sprinter to be in position to make his final push. Yes, there’s positioning and strategy involved to box out some more pure climbers, but there are classics that they can dominate. Granted, most of them are up in the rain in Belgium, but whaddya want?