the good runs

I had run thirteen miles at the ERC’s Endurance Run on Saturday, so I planned to just walk on Sunday, especially since it was still raining off and on. But, then I know from experience that walking in the rain is much more miserable than running in the rain, so I decided to throw on running clothes so I could run if I felt like it.

I’m not sure why, but I felt like it.

Maybe it was because my friends had just finished a 100K trail run that morning at 6:30 a.m. They had started the day before at 6 a.m., so, yeah, they ran for more than 24 hours. I couldn’t even stay awake that long. So, I thought: How can I be tired after just 2 hours and 13 miles?

Bored with the roads around my house and because it was Sunday and I had the time to drive somewhere and walk or run, I decided to head down to campus and do our old Wednesday group run gorge loop — a 5ish miler from the campus parking lot down the Bayfront Connector Trail to Shannon and Cooper Road and up through the gorge, then snaking up through campus to loop Knowledge Park at the top of Jordan.

I don’t think I’ve run that course since we stopped running on campus in March of 2020 thanks to COVID, then thanks to masking-on-campus requirements for a year or so. I could not run in a mask. I tried it once. I think I lasted a mile before I ripped it off my face and thought, I’d rather not run or do every run solo than have to try to run masked. We started running downtown or through the neighborhoods around Frontier Park and never really returned to campus even though masks are no longer required outdoors.

So it’s been awhile since I ran the gorge loop. It didn’t take long to remember why no matter how fast our pace, we always seemed to average 10-minute miles. Hills are unavoidable at Behrend and there are plenty on the gorge loop. The route starts with a slight uphill to the trail and includes at least two steeper hills that we would run about halfway up.

Despite the 13 miles on Saturday, the lack of sleep that night, the wind/cold and spitting rain, and the hills, I had the best run I’ve had in months.

If I look at my pace, it’s probably not all that impressive (I mentioned the hills, right?), but everything was clicking and it felt like I was flying. The rain quit, the sun came out, the sweat was running down my face and neck, and I was moving fast over familiar territory. Reclaiming what was once lost. Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.

These are the runs that runners live for….the high we chase, which is even more intoxicating when it is so completely unexpected.

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly with little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.