This morning I went on a 5-mile run, a large loop around my greater neighborhood, that was a microcosm of why running is so great. I have been running socially since I returned to running in 2011 from my 2-year layoff due to my now-chronic ankle injury (tibial tendinitis), which I merely try to manage through reduced mileage, more rest days and a slower pace. This morning was one of my infrequent solo longer runs.
Doing the loop clockwise, like this morning, puts all the hills into the first two miles, including the half-mile long hill a half-mile from my house. Going out, I spent the entire first mile fending off frantic messages from my brain to turn at familiar points and make it a mile run instead, or a 2K run, a 3K run, a 2-miler out-and-back or my old standard 2 1/2 mile run to the schoolyard and back. Fortunately my breathing soon regulated, my legs lost their leaden feeling and acquired a little spring in them and I doggedly stuck to my original plan.
On the long hill I seemed to be pacing the garbage truck collecting trash and the garbage collectors took great pleasure in giving me a friendly ribbing at each curbside canister they emptied, commanding me to "Get up that hill!" and inquiring of my present speed, "Is that all you got?" I got to the top ahead of their truck and turned to point this out as we gave each other friendly waves.
Past familiar haunts I ran (I used to do this run frequently, and drive the pace on it), past the tiny colonial cemetery, Timberlake Elementary school, the large modern cemetery undergoing expansion, the tiny used car lots on Lee Highway, the miniature golf course and tennis courts up by the Fairfax County 9-hole golf course, around the backside of the large loop running parallel to the infamous Beltway and onward towards Haycock Elementary school. Large stretches of the run were shaded and there was a breeze so the sweat didn't start dripping off the bill of my running ballcap and splashing across my cheeks until the third mile. The last mile I fell in with Beth, a hitherto unknown runner but a friendly one, and we discussed our experiences at the Marine Corps Marathon, local hills and our three sons before I turned off near my house with a friendly wave.
I just love this stuff. Five miles in about fifty minutes. It's fun while it lasts and it makes you feel so good when it stops.