Middle Road Loop Adventure

Running is sometimes not really a high priority in my life and then at other times it is the thing that really helps me through the day. It is a part of who I am and provides me with excuses to get outside and have mini adventures almost everyday. No run is ever the same even if you have run the same route a multitude of times, which is the real beauty of it.

As you live your life you tend to see things differently than you may have before and today was no exception to that rule. I consciously decided to look at running this route with fresh eyes versus the usual 30ft fever focus on getting done that I tend to get into when I run.

The sun was out for the first time in days! Even though the temps hadn’t cracked 40*F yet, there was a warmth in the air that hasn’t been there for a while. Although when I started out I couldn’t see a damn thing, it was glinting off the wet pavement (yeah, it rained again last night) at the right angle (the wrong one to see anything) and I had to move with my head looking down at my feet just to stay on the road. It would have been a perfect time to get whacked by a car or something, because I didn’t have a clue what was in front of me.

Once I got a couple hundred yards from the house, either my eyes got used to the brightness or I had gotten around the corner enough that the glinting of the sun off the pavement wasn’t a problem. Probably a combination of both and also the pavement had a chance to dry a bit further down the road, so I could see what was going on ahead of me. Luckily where we live it is fairly rural and most days walking or running can be done down the middle of the road – this morning was one of those mornings.

I figured I would be doing the Middle Road loop and started out fairly slow and as I went down Philbrick Hill (aka The Bitch), I let myself speed-up and by the time I got to the 1.0 mile split I was feeling really good. The second mile was more avoiding traffic and going by wood splitting operation in the Philbrick’s field. It is pretty impressive how quickly that machine cuts/splits and spits out the firewood.

When I got to the crossroads, I got to watch the Sidney equivalent of a traffic jam. A total of 5 cars attempting to go in different directions with a runner attempting to stay out of the way. We all made it through safely, although I was rather worried about one of the vehicles turning left in front of the pickup truck that wasn’t slowing down. Thankfully, they all made it, but the pickup was in a hurry it seems and hurtled by up the hill after blowing its horn at the car that had forced it to slow down a little.

Excitement in a small town.

When I looked at the mile 2.0 split I was pretty happy. Benji was out enjoying the sun and barked his usual greeting to me, we have been doing this for more than 12 years now and he just lets me know he is still around. However, I have a feeling that it will not be too many more years before there will be no Benji barking at me as I run by, he is starting to look old and the bark is an old dog bark. Not the joyful one that greeted me for so many years.

Once past his house it is time to get up over the next hill which always seems to kick my butt and with Middle Road traffic always busy on Sunday mornings…between those going to the Town’s transfer station or heading to or returning from church. Church is still a big thing around here and despite warnings to the contrary from the State, they continue to pack ‘em in during the pandemic. God’s will, will be done. Oh well I am sure they say the same about me or worse as a runner. Me I will stay away from other people as much as possible, which is something that I pretty much do most days even without the pandemic being around.

Mile 3.0 is usually a little slower than 1.0 or 2.0 just because of the hill and traffic. I tend to spend a lot of time running on the dirt shoulder of the road and that can be an adventure sometimes. Especially when the ground is soft like it is after all the rain we have had lately. Stepping down and feeling your foot sink 3-4 inches and then maintaining a good pace doesn’t work that well.

3.0 pretty good miles…all under 9:00 minute pace and I know the slow down is coming.

Just the way the course is set up. I did have to pull my mask up to go around someone walking their dog in front of the school and cross to the other side of the road. Yes, I wear my mask while running, although I do use it as a chin strap until I see people – living in the rural area there ain’t that many people out and about and I can’t see a damn thing when it steams up my glasses. Since I am pretty much blind with the glasses, I tend to not wear over my nose running unless I have to.

Wearing my face mask is not a political statement or anything else. Hell I wear fluorescent orange during hunting season even though I don’t have to — just as a precaution. Wearing orange doesn’t mean that I won’t get shot at, but it does give me a sense that I am at least being smart about safety during hunting season. I see a face mask as the same thing, being smart during a pandemic. Do I like them hell no, but at the same time, I am not thrilled about getting COVID-19 and whether wearing it does anything or not, it makes me think that I am doing what I can to avoid it until the vaccines are ready to be distributed.

Getting off that soapbox and back to running.

Of course, when I run there is usually a dog somewhere along the way, who starts to bother and today was no exception. A dog was off-leash in a yard and started to come out at me until I yelled out and pointed at the dog. The owner finally called him off and he stopped, but there was not any reason for it to get to that point. It ain’t like the owner didn’t see me coming down the road, after all I was wearing a fluorescent orange vest. Actually, I know they did because they were looking right at me when the dog started barking at me. Oh well, it ain’t a good run unless there is a dog encounter out here I guess.

When I got to the hill in front of the Town Office, between the time on the road shoulders, the other hills and worrying about traffic, it makes this hill just seem so damn hard. It really is not all that bad of a hill, I am usually more mentally tired after running on the Middle Road and it gets me at the wrong time.

Once I struggled up that hill it was time to run the dirt road…well mostly dirt there was a bit of slime and mud in places. Nothing serious, but when Mary ran it a little while later, she said she had no problems following where I had run. My tracks in the mud were quite noticeable. The 4.0 mile split was not great, but not bad.

The last mile on this course always sucks.

Mile 5.0 starts with the bottom of Blake Hill and then the flats which were pretty mucky and up Stevens Hill to the finish. Yeah over 10:00 minute pace for the last mile tells the story pretty well.

Overall it was a pretty good run, the On Cloudflyers did what I asked of them, although my right little toe was complaining just a bit towards the end. That is always going to be an issue for me, so I just have to suck it up buttercup. The big news was that the bottom of my feet did not bother, so now I know it is not a me thing. It is a shoe thing with the other shoes that I have been wearing. Since that is three runs of 5.0 miles or more and I haven’t had issues with the bottom of my feet in the On’s yet. It does mean that the other shoes need to go away.

Over the years, I have run this course numerous times and today I attempted to run it as if I was on a new adventure. This made me look at things a lot differently and maybe this is what I need to do more of, just write about them as mini adventures instead of a boring RunLog entry.

Categories: Tags:

5 Comments

  1. The part about Benji made me both happy and sad. Best not to take it for granted, and soak in every old bark. Can I suggest something…perhaps add more tags to your posts. You write some good stuff, and that might draw a broader audience. For instance…”Running, exercise, nature, shoes, dogs, mansbestfriend, thebeatenpath, outdoors, habit, step by step, avid runner” etc…just simple tags that people look up. Your writing deserves a larger following, and I think that might help 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. 🙂 Benji is a good dog and knows me pretty well after all these years. It will be a sad day when I go by and the owner comes out and tells me Benji is gone. It will be a tough remainder of that run for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Routine running, like many other routine tasks in life, would be more interesting if we treat each of them like mini adventures. More importantly, health and safety are first priority, especially during the current pandemic. It’s great that you’ve found a pair of running shoes for running long distance without your feet being hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We get so inured to the routine nature of so much of what we do that we forget the wonder in being able to do those things. Every year finding shoes that work for feet with too many miles on them seems to get more difficult, but it is part of the adventure, just the expensive part, but is one of my “few” bad habits, so the wife usually forgives me when a new pair of running shoes suddenly show up on the door step. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.