Ohireland’s New Sport

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Pete’s been busy building up his fitness for Superior 100. In the next few days, we will post a few recent workout highlights.

April 11th: Today’s workout was again at Mt Airy Forest, for about 14 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes. This was really fun today, for a couple of reasons:

First, it was the first run where springtime was really evident, as it started breaking through the gray and brown grip of late winter. The skies were intensely blue, the temperatures were still cool and with low humidity, and I felt great coming off of a low mileage week. It was still awfully muddy in places, but the promise of warmth made it easy to splash through the puddles. Mt Airy is always tough, but its steep and IMG_1601sometimes rocky challenges always keep my mind sharp and refreshed. My battle with the massive hill that is the Stone Steps continued, and I made it closer to the top before having to stop momentarily for a breather–maybe next time I will conquer!

Second, while running towards the end IMG_1602in the Arboretum side of the park, I came across a truly inspiring sight–an entire valley of buttercups just emerging from their winter hibernation. It went on as far as the eye could see, tiny and fragile yellow flowers wrapped in a verdant, undulating green carpet. For some reason, it reminded me of the lush green plains of Ireland. So I doth name thee Ohireland.

And best of all, I got to invent a new sport! I’m worried about the rocky and technical terrain for both Laurel Highlands and especially the Superior 100. There are rocks and roots in place on the Ohio trails, especially at Mt. Airy, but it’s not the same as I expect to encounter in my target races. Nor is it similar to my old training grounds in Pennsylvania, a state that is basically a big rock pile covered by a thin veneer of soil.

So lately I started eying some of the creek beds close to our house. I noticed that many of these are broad and flat with not much water in them. They also often have big and flat stones. I tried walking a few of them nearby our house to see if they were stable and easy to maneuver in, and they seemed to be so perfect that they were almost like walking paths.

Today, I tried out my idea. Where one of the trails dipped into a ravine with an inviting creek, I turned into the creek and tried to run down the creek bed. To my joy, it was pretty easy to do so! There was almost always an obvious place to step, either on a flat rock in the creek bed or a flat spot alongside the creek. The rocks were stable and not slippery at all. Only occasionally was there a spot where I had to stop or slow down to find my way, usually either a pile of debris or a log to go over or under. With a bit of practice, I could start to look ahead and figure out a path to take without stopping. This was also great lower leg proprioception (balance) training and kept my mental focus sharpened. After a bit of learning, it became a real joy, both for the challenge and for bringing me even closer to nature’s wonders.

Here is a video of my first attempt. This is in a place where it wasn’t so easy to run, so it’s not so representative of the whole outing. I did this for about half a mile and can’t wait to try again! Not sure what to call this new sport, “Creek Running” seems a bit lame. Any ideas?

 

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