I encountered a few oddities, if you will, while training out of town this weekend. Here's the story...
Seven miles was on the docket Saturday morning, so I set out before 8:00 a.m. to catch the nearby trailhead of a long river parkway that stretches north and south for many miles. The temperature was a cold 20 degrees, but it was the thick haziness in the air that caught my attention immediately. I thought it was fog and running through it was somewhat of an ethereal sensation. It wasn't so thick that I couldn't see ahead of me, but there were patches that made me feel like I was literally running through the clouds. Turns out it wasn't fog, but rather polluted smog encasing the valley and I was one of the few souls foolish enough to actually go out running in it. Still, I didn't have any trouble breathing and found it to be a very unique experience.
As I was running, it seemed awfully peculiar to me that I was the only one out that morning (this was, of course, before I realized why). I had anticipated and actually looked forward to greeting many other walkers and runners, which is not a common circumstance for me while I'm training at home. Instead, I was completely alone for the first four miles and I found the solitude to be both peaceful and uncomfortable. Birds startled me, flying away from their resting places and the crunch of the ice beneath my feet kept sounding like things other than the crunch of ice beneath my feet. During several spots along the trail, I was running through groves of trees and combined with the fog/smog, I imagined visions of the creature from M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village" coming out after me. Creepy.
Still, I forged ahead.
Finally, around mile four, I encountered another human being. Two of them! Except they weren't runners. They were hunters-- decked out in complete camouflage attire with rifles slung over their shoulders. This was definitely unusual as it's not every training run I come across men bearing firearms. But my surprise at seeing them was shortlived as I quickly realized the lake near the trail was a popular duck hunting spot. Still, I couldn't help but peek over my shoulder a couple times after passing them just to make sure they weren't crouched down somewhere in the bushes, marking their shot. I already had to go to the bathroom; hearing a sudden gunshot into the air wouldn't help those matters one bit. Several other hunters crossed my path before I was done, and although they were friendly enough, I couldn't help but feel like a duck out of water.
(Get it?? Duck out of water?? Duck hunters?)
Sorry. Moving on...
Other than the few oddities, the run itself was only fair to marginal. Unfortunately, something that's becoming all too common is trouble with my legs; I ran the first half of the seven miles with shin splints and the second half through a complaining hip. Self-treatment is all I can manage with the shin splints, but if my hip (an IT band inflammation) continues to give me grief, I'll have to pay another visit to my physical therapist. A couple of months ago, while bidding him adieu following four months of treatment for a knee injury, I jokingly told him I hoped I'd never see him again. Won't he be surprised.
If the leg trouble keeps up, I'll be tempted to go back to the river trail, find a hunter and beg him to just put me down.
Or the Village creature.
Either will do.