Monday, April 23, 2007

The Battle at Paint Creek Trail

Despite the title of this post, this is not a tale of an old Civil War battle. Or a shoot-out between legendary Old West figures.

Rather, this is the tale of two intrepid marathoners - myself and Mike - who battled some physical and mental barriers on our way to a successful 18 mile training run.

Paint Creek Trail is a former railroad path running between Rochester and Lake Orion about 9 miles in length. The rails, of course, have been removed but a nice packed dirt trail remains for joggers, walkers, and bikers. Lots of trees, a few homes, and a golf course or two line the course. It is a very relaxing setting to tackle a long run.

Due to my son's morning soccer game, Mike had to wait until 11:30 for my arrival at the park - just as the sun was heating the path to over 70 degrees for the day. Combine that with some early morning chores and BOOM! a recipe for a struggled run.

We had targeted 8:30/mile as a goal pace and, I think, we hit that on many of the miles if you discount a walking break here and there. For me, this was a nice pace. I've been dealing with a mild right hamstring strain for the past 6 weeks and have been privately fearful of it turning into something major. This was just what I needed. My hamstring didn't feel sore during or after the run. I'm sure I've been pushing too hard during training runs and needed to pull back a bit.

The second half of the run proved to be a bit of challenge. I think Mike felt he was holding me up when, in fact, I was enjoying the pace quite a bit. There were a few walking breaks and some encouraging words exchanged to spur us to the finish. We made it reasonably close to the targeted time considering the running clock during some walking breaks.

A beautiful day. A good run. Good conversation. For me, the time flew by.

And then tragedy struck.

I realized that my car keys were nowhere to be found. Several miles into the trail, I had the feeling that something was missing and started patting down and couldn't locate my car keys. At that point, there was nothing to be done but finish the course and hope someone turned them into the concession stand or, maybe, I had left them in the car. Either way, I was hoping my car wasn't stolen.

On return to the park, no luck. The concession stand was closed. My car was locked. And I was pretty certain that I had left the key in the grass when I bent down to tie my shoe. A search of the suspected area did not turn up the treasure.

I had to make the phone call.

How do you nicely call you wife and ask her to put both kids in the car and drive them 80 miles across the state to bring you another car key in the middle of the best day of the year?

You just do it.

Big thanks to the wife and kids for putting up with yet another inconvenience this running obsession sometimes creates.

We didn't hit our planned 20 miles but I think this run was a good lesson. Marathoning isn't easy and everything doesn't go as planned. I think the battle we fought on Paint Creek Trail will toughen us up for the marathon.

18 miles in 2:45.

1 comment:

Mike said...

you're too kind.

The run was great, and the conversation.

Glad you made it home and wife and kids made the best of an unusual situation.

next time i'll head to lansing.