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Click to embiggen. Caution: The Cute! It Burns!

Click to embiggen. Caution: The Cute! It Burns!

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Ohio, photos | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seventeen Saturdays: Episode II

We spent the weekend camping at Salt Fork State Park, so I did the second of my 17 long-run Saturdays on unfamiliar roads. As usual, I plotted my course on Gmaps Pedometer, figuring in a little cushion and surpassing this week’s seven-mile requirement by about three-quarters of a mile.

What I didn’t do was take a look at the elevation chart for the run, engaged by a subtle toggle over on the left hand side of the Pedometer page. I rarely do anyway, and I doubt it would have actually changed my planning, since I know Salt Fork’s roads wind and roll, and I don’t mind climbing too much.

Of course, when I got home and re-checked the route for accuracy, this time turning on the elevation chart, I was surprised at what I’d managed to inadvertently achieve:


So not only is there a fair climb in there, but it’s right at the heart of the route: The lowest point, by pure chance, happened to be almost exactly at my turnaround spot. None of the climbs were steep, but I think they may have been the longest hills I’ve ever run.

This was actually a really good run for me – I’d even almost call it ‘fun,’ except that just sounds crazy. I didn’t time myself, but I also never fell below a jog or found myself in danger of grinding to a halt, and that’s something, considering the last time I ran seven miles was eight months ago. (That shocked me a little bit just now when I flipped through my journal to look it up.) It was October 26th, when I did eight miles with my brother Adam on the last long run of his first marathon training program – his Seventeenth Saturday.

I started my Salt Fork run after sunup –- around 6:15, I think – and it was breezy enough to keep the sky constantly changing, though it never got gusty on the ground. Things shifted from sunny to overcast to “Dammit-I’m-going-to-get-caught-in-the-rain” (which never materialized) to sunny again.

Along the way, I saw:

  • Two deer standing at the roadside, about a half-mile or so into the run. They let me get within about 150 feet of them before heading off into the woods. When I got to the spot where they’d been, I looked into the trees and had to search hard to see them again.
  • The rising, yellow sun sending shafts of light into a hollow below the roadside, the air thick and wet and still. The previous night’s rains had left things damp and slightly humid, and the sunbeams were sharply defined against the dark leaves and trees.
  • A vulture in the middle of the road, head bowed. When I spotted it, my first thought was, “Uh-oh. Something dead. Something nasty.” It flew off, and it turned out to have been drinking from a puddle in a pothole.
  • A pocket of haze or smoke clinging to a wooded hillside across the lake.
  • Fingernail-sized snails crossing the road.
  • A sky-spanning cloud formation that moved swiftly and took on the shape and motion of ripples spreading on a pond. (On a similar note: Nearing the peak of the run, far beyond the crest of the incline I was climbing, the distant surrounding hills rose into view, hazy and purplish. It took me a minute to realize they were actually a far-off cloudbank on the horizon.)

A lot went through my mind on this run including some ideas I can hopefully turn into realities and writing projects. This is another reason I prefer running without the distraction of headphones, although it can be tough sometimes to keep track of everything that I want to write down when I finish the run. When I got back to our campsite on Saturday, I immediately grabbed a cup of water and my notebook and pen so I could scribble notes before they faded.

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports, Travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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