Fall in Iowa…Short but Sweet!
As I’ve said before, I’ve been looking forward to beautiful, sunny fall days for perfect running conditions. This past week was a rest week for me, so my mileage was lower to give my legs a chance to recovery. This meant I could take things easy over the weekend, with scheduled runs of 14 and 10 miles respectively on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday’s run entailed a 5AM start in order to meet up with some friends. Early morning runs seem to be the one exception to my early wake-up allergy, and it felt great walking out of the house in the dark to tackle some miles. The first 8 miles were very comfortable, and a great opportunity to chat and catch up while running down the middle of the road (one of the joys of living in a small town in Iowa). We met up with our running group a bit later, and I ended up pushing my pace at that point, but was still feeling really good so I went with it. We got stuck in a brief rainstorm, but nothing too extreme, and the cool rain felt rather refreshing so I wasn’t complaining. I ended up running a bit longer than 14 miles, as I have a tendency to do, and ended up with 16.68 miles, which still got me home by 8AM, which was great! I had plenty of time to eat breakfast, clean up around the house, and settle in to watch the Arsenal vs. Swansea BPL game 🙂
Yesterday, I ended up spontaneously inspired to hit the trails by a friend, and I headed out to a local off-road favorite. I got started a bit later than usual on a Sunday due to the Minnesota Vikings game in London, but it was nice to finally see the Vikes pick up a W! The beautiful epicurean dropped me off at the park, and I headed out onto the trails. Once I passed the grasslands, and ventured into the woods, things got even more interesting. I have run these trails numerous times, and was fairly confident of my directions. However, I must have turned left instead of right at some point, because I ended up on a series of trails I had never seen before, and it was a blast just plowing forward, totally uncertain of where I was or where I was going. I was confident that something would look familiar eventually, so I wasn’t too worried, and the new trails game my brain that amazing endorphin rush that comes with a new route.
The semi-out-and-back route still totaled about 6 miles, and then I headed back towards home for the remainder of the run. As soon as you leave the park, the country road turns south, and you head up a significant hill. That’s when the wind decided to test me! I found myself heading up a half-mile hill into 30 mph winds, and I was gassed by the time I got to the top. The wind didn’t let up, and the next mile and a half was a slower than average and my knee started to bother me, most likely from adjusting my gate while heading up the hill. I made my way back home via an infrequently traveled country road, and was reminded of the beauty that exists around me in Iowa. The sun was shining, the winds died down, and the air was just cool enough to be refreshing. Looking out over the fields of golden corn, ready for harvest, and listening to nature made for a nice reminder not to forget to slow down and enjoy the ride. Races are important, as is sticking to a training plan, but I run because I love all the little things in between. This weekend was a fantastic reminder of that!