Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

Seventeen Saturdays: Episode XII

Aug. 29

You know those mornings when I’ve been treated to glorious sunrises or clean breezes over the hills or quiet rivers of mist on the fields?

Today was not one of those mornings.

Even though it was dark outside, I could hear the rain while I was getting dressed.

And with a quick check online, I saw that the showers which were suppposed to have cleared up between 6 and 7 a.m. were now scheduled to hang around until 9 or 10.

This was going to be one soppy run.

By a mile in, my brother and I were soaked to the point where more rain didn’t matter: We couldn’t get any wetter.

At least it was warm enough that we weren’t cold, but cool enough that it asn’t muggy.

It rained through our entire shared 10-mile loop.

Oh, it never hit what I ‘d consider downpour staus, where it’s blattering and difficult to see and hear, but it didn’t stop entirely, either, fluctuating the whole time between spitting drizzle and full-on showers.

Not quite six miles in, Adam asked how I was feeling about the training process; specifically, if I’m looking forward to it being over, and that first Saturday after the marathon when I’m not looking at a long run to start the day.

I was kind of surprised to find that I hadn’t really given much thought to it.

I suppose, I conceded, that I’ll be glad not to wake up on a weekend morning thinking of ten-plus miles before breakfast, but at the same time, most days I’ve run, I haven’t laced up my shoes dreading it, or seen it as something I had to do. It’s just become, four days a week, part of my day that’s less an event, and more just a thing there in the hours, like a meal or coffee: I get up, it’s Tuesday (or Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday), I run.

Maybe part of it is the training, and the progress, and charting new runs and mixing it up. Just sitting here, I think it would be much harder for me to set my own regular weekly schedule of mileage and stick to it.

All of which is to say that I find myself not really ready for it to be over, I guess.

Adam started pulling away from me in the eighth mile,and he really went ahead in the last mile-and-a-quarter of his run, getting probably a couple tenths between us as I worked on keeping my pace but not going into my final push, since I had another couple to go.

The clouds let loose one final outburst as I climbed the last real hill of the route, and the rain slowed as I descended the other side.

As I ran alongside the cornfield next to our cul-de-sac, I heard this great, deep pattering off to my left, and I realized it was the sound of the rain landing on row after row after row of broad August corn leaves. It wasn’t that it was raining hard, and it wasn’t that it was particularly loud, really, but hearing it there at the edge of the field, the sound kind of rolling out of the ends of the rows, it hinted at the volume and the breadth of the field, kind of like the way even on a calm day, an ocean surf reminds you that there’s a vastness beyond.

Adam handed off the stopwatch when I caught up to him and said, “We’re right about 8-and-a-half pace, and you’ve got cakewalk from here.”

It was a different sort of finish than I’ve had in some time, because the loop through a nearby allotment didn’t include any big hills: Those were already behind me.

The last couple miles were quiet, and I realized just how drenched I was.

I felt the weight of my waterlogged shirt tugging at my shoulders.

I imagined I could actually feel water sloshing around in my saturated shoes, from which there came a distinct, sock-muffled squish with every step.

A comfortable breeze pushed against me in the last half-mile, which helped, and I was able to maintain a nice clip running up our street.

Final time and distance: 1:42:07 for 12.1 miles – a pace of 8:27. And though I didn’t look at the stopwatch until the end, Adam said later that at the time of the handoff, it was in the 1:25 range, which means I did the last 2.2 miles in 17 minutes, for about a 7:44 pace.

I took a warm shower.

Then I dried off.

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August 30, 2009 - Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , ,

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