The Night before…

Top of the World

I’m always just a little anxious the night before a race. I know I’m supposed to take it easy and rest, I should carb up and get everything ready. But I can never go to bed when I’m supposed to. Even though I know I need to be up at 5AM for an hour drive over to the coast, I still can’t go to sleep before 11PM.
I think about the run, the traffic, what I’m doing after, if I’ll know anyone there. My mind revolves around a million little things, as the mind is supposed to do, I suppose. I think about how I spent the day, taking my young daughter to a corn maize and watching her play in the kid area. She didn’t care much for the maize maze, we spent perhaps twenty minutes roaming around. But the farm had a bounce pillow, a giant sixty foot vinyl balloon set in the ground that she wanted to conquer for an hour. I highly recommend any race director who wants to increase the kid count at a race after party to toss one down. This thing was packed, and if it had been adult sized, I would have hopped for an hour too.
Kid’s are pretty amazing. Tristan told me she wanted to run a race with me today, as only an earnest seven year old can. She outlined how we would train, and where, at a run path around a lake not too far from our home, and suspiciously near an ice cream store we frequent. Hmmm.
I’m going to sign us up for a 5K in December, and we’ll run it together, as slow as she likes. Maybe she’ll come to love running the way I do, though for different reasons.
When we’re kids, we exercise as play. I watched her and a dozen others race around a tire field, swing across monkey bars, jump, run and bounce and realized that the obstacle course running craze sweeping the nation right now is exactly what they were doing. Just for fun.
Maybe as we grow up, we kind of forget how much fun playing can be. Maybe it’s not the adult thing to do, playing. But running at any age can kind of be like playing. That old competitive spirit popping up, smiling, laughing and just running along without a care in the world. Trying to be first, to be king of the hill, to finish.
I’ll sleep on that tonight. My running plan tomorrow is to smile. It’s going to hurt, and I like it, and when you like something you should smile. Now that’s a thought to drift off too…

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Do you take a running vacation?

I flew into Bentonville on Friday for a weekend away from it all.  I had hoped to visit with my children, but their mom had made plans for them to be out of town, so even though it was piss poor timing on my part, I still made the trip.  I planned to run the River Trail through downtown Little Rock, and even further if I could.

This was my second running vacation.  The first I took over Labor Day weekend, flying out to Los Angeles to run in a 10K, a Half and a Full marathon over three days.  There were no races in Little Rock, just a gorgeous trail that I’d eyeballed many times in town, but never had the chance to run.

The weather was perfect.  It was mid 80’s with a hot sun and a cool breeze that occasionally gusted enough to make headway tough.  I parked at The Big Dam Bridge, no seriously, that’s the name of it, a giant pedestrian bridge that arches over a dam, and took off through Murray Park headed for downtown.  I made it to Cantrell Road before I lost the trail, so my suggestion to Parks and Rec is to mark the trail better.  I turned around and ran back to the bridge, and almost pushed further, but I wanted to save a little bit in the tank for the next day.  It was still a good little 6 or 7 mile run, with a little offshoot adventure over behind some buildings that border the Arkansas River. 

On Sunday, the weather was even better.  The morning dawned rainy and cooler, but the sun quickly warmed it to low 80’s and the wind was still there.   This time I headed North.  The River trail runs under the I-430 bridge to another pedestrian bridge over the Little Maumelle River and winds around into Two Rivers Park.  All I can say is the Parks and Rec department got this one right.  The trail was gorgeous, well marked, well used and with the amazing day, a perfect run.  My legs were a little tired because I skipped dinner and opted for a fro-yo and early bedtime, but other than that, it was simply incredible. 

I have often said if I lived in Little Rock, I would have to be near the River Trail to run up one side and down the other of the river.  The city has put some effort into creating a fitness lover’s paradise, and more people should take advantage of it.  This Sunday the crowds were a little thicker than I’ve seen before, a few hundred walkers, bikers and less than 20 runners scattered along the trail.  Maybe the local runners knew another place to go.  But I found a house I wouldn’t mind living in if I moved back to Little Rock.  Perched right on the edge of the water with a waterview off one side and Pinnacle standing in the distance on the other.  Just yards from the trail.