Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 38 - Only 50 Days Left Until the London Marathon


This weekend we are in Holdenville for Mike and Dan’s birthday. I still had to run but thought it would be nice to be out running somewhere new and with less congestion than Dallas. Oh and did I mention a break from the hills in Arlington.

I didn’t start out so good. I left my water bottle, belt and Gu in Dallas. I didn’t realise this until we are already in Denison. The only place that looked like they might have anything was the local Wal-Mart. I did find Muscle Milk but nothing else…

We relaxed most of the afternoon and I let my dinner settle for an hour and half so it was well after dark before I started running. I went on Daily Mile beforehand and mapped my route. Surprisingly, the map seemed to cover all the streets in Holdenville pretty well. I wanted avoid running down dark country roads so I mapped a route that weaved back and forth across Holdenville. So far so good.

Now to address the no water bottle situation. I printed a couple of copies of the map, one for Elise and one for me. The map I printed for me was to avoid getting lost, silly right? Especially in Holdenville, how could I get lost? I didn’t want to miss a turn, etc. so I printed the copy. The second copy was for Elise to know where to meet me with water. The plan was for her to meet me at the 4mi, 6mi, 8mi, 10mi marks.

I took off out towards 270 and at first everything was pretty much as expected, no great but at least reasonable lighting. There was a lot more traffic than I was expecting. I’m not sure where everyone was headed on a Saturday night in Holdenville but a lot of people out. The wind was blowing mildly and the hills, if you call them that, were nice and easy.

When I hit the edge of town, I turned back and was curious whether or not Elise would be at the three mile mark. She’s had a history of not following my maps very well... I approached the Holdenville High School football field and nearby park. The first thing I noticed was a sketchy looking, old Monte Carlo, with blacked out windows parked near the field and got a huge whiff of weed. They weren’t trying to hide it or weren’t doing a very good job of it. Either way, not something I was expecting to see on my little outing in Holdenville. For a second, I thought I might have ventured into an Southeast Dallas neighborhood. If you are from Southeast Dallas, don’t get offended. It’s a broad generalization, I know, but also very true in several areas Southeast Dallas.  Then a little further up the road, there was my wife parked next to the road. She had a water bottle balanced on the side view mirror. Perfect.

I snagged the water bottle from the mirror and kept my pace. She drove up around on my left, opened the window, chatted a bit with me and I tossed the bottle back into the passenger side window. That my friend’s is curbside service for runners. I hoped for a second or two there she was going to play the Rocky theme.

First three miles were the best and then everything headed downhill (not literally). Running down Main to the North side of town, the existence of sidewalks and decent lighting all disappeared. The occasional light from liquor store or mechanic shop. Ever so often I’d get a glimmer of the broken glass I was stomping over. Still, all and all, not too bad.

Elise was parked up the street at my turn around point. I guess at this point she had decided to follow me around versus going back and forth from the house. I quickly noticed that the roads, although I had assumed would be paved, were gravel. Gravel is not terrible but when you’ve been trying to avoid injury at all cost – it is not a welcome site when there is no street light. Elise must have been thinking the same thing, so she whipped around behind me and turned her brights on. Lifesaver (there is a chance that is literal). If you could imagine a neighborhood where Meth labs are kept, this was the scene. That said, very unfair statement – could be really great people living there but it fit the description on the level of creepiness.

Not far down the gravel road, I saw what looked like a dead end. Surely not, the map (which I still had tucked in my pants) had this road going all the way through back across town. Dead end...I hooked to the right and came back out on Main. At this point, Elise could tell this was probably going to be a recurring problem. She made sure I had a quick drink of water then took off in front of me to check out the other areas I would be running.

On my way back down main, I started noticing how many churches Holdenville has. I don’t recall the number but it was something close to 10. How many churches does one small town need? Completely separate discussion and debate but I  mention it as it made the time pass while I was running. I was contemplating how many blow out disagreements occurred between difference church members or groups over time that resulted in “Fine, we’ll just start our own church…” two or three months later and less than a block down a new church was built.

As I turn into the neighborhood on the South side of town, I realise how terrible the street conditions are and see that much like the North side – there is little to no street lighting. Pot holes the size of VW Bugs. I’m running along, partly tripping every few minutes but still surviving. I’m thrilled once I get back out near the center of town around the school. At least there is better lighting here and the roads weren’t bad. I knew that would be short lived.

Not long after leaving the center of town, I find myself back in the dark abyss. I am approaching yet another church and notice a big Sheppard dog wandering about out front. I don’t think much of it at first but in the back of my head have decided to charge after the dog if he gives me trouble. He noticed me soon after and started a little grumbling bark but nothing too serious. When I got closer he started growling and barking more aggressively. I didn’t know what else to do, so I sprinted hard in his direction yelling at him. He kept barking but was backing away rather than running at me. When I passed him, he started running after me. So I turned around and ran back at him. He backed away and we repeated the same process at least one more time. Crisis averted. Thought I was going to have a wrestling match on my hands.

Elise was waiting up the street, water bottle on the mirror. I was really getting annoyed with this run but the water bottle thing was welcomed luxury. Like water bottle valet. I felt spoiled.

Still running in the dark, the inevitable happened, I rolled hard on my right ankle stepping off into a deep pot hole. I was pissed. That was last thing I needed to happen. I considered calling it quits but was only 7 miles in and really needed the miles. I kept going. Elise was back behind me again giving me light to see.

We got to the far reach of town on the North side and realised we were in for another random detour. Side note here, there is a Casino in Holdenville – I had no idea. It gave off a ton of light and Elise had an opportunity drive ahead of me to see where we needed to head next. Of course it wasn’t straight forward. We took a left at a dead end (not on my map), a quick right back into creepymethlabville, under a railroad bridge with DO NOT ENTER constructions signs..I mean the bridge was being held up by wood pilings that looked eaten up with termites..and back onto the street we were meant to be on. Last loop on the North end…glad to be down with that.

Back to the South side of town, I was nearing 8 miles and almost done. Not before another near dog attack. This time around it was a German Sheppard and he was much more aggressive. I charged at him, he kept coming at me, and it wasn’t until about five feet of distance between us that he conceded a little bit. I started to run back towards the road and he came at me again. This time I got the sense that he wasn’t going to back down. About 10 feet apart this time and his owner called him off. Crisis averted again. Who needs a Gu when you have genuine adrenaline pumping? I’m out of breathe but not because of the run.

Almost over, I kept telling myself, almost over. Elise was up ahead waiting on me, she was giving me a heads up about yet another fricking detour. We re-routed and I headed East through the neighborhood. Remember this side of town has the pot holes the size of VW Bugs. Elise stayed behind me the most of the way, giving me enough light to avoid the pot holes. She left for just a few minutes to check the roads/conditions around the corner. It didn’t take long and I then rolled hard on my left ankle…again one of the giant sized pot holes. Practically limping, I made it back out to main and down 270 back to Mike and Mary’s. I finished and that was an accomplishment in itself.

Moral – don’t run in Holdenville. If you do, carry a spotlight, mace and avoid the North and South parts of town.

Run specs – 10.32 miles – 1:31 time – 8:48 pace


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