I had a interesting little experience over at Big River Park the other day. When I got there, the lot where I usually park was practically full. It’s never been that busy before, so I kept looking around, trying to figure out what was going on. Then, once I did find a spot to park, I realized the walking path was crammed with people. Fortunately, the path is roughly the width of a one lane road, so even with all the folks on it, there was still space to move. I typically don’t like to be around people much, (the perfect place for me to run has just enough people around so I feel safe, but few enough that I don’t have to actually interact with them,) but I was determined to run anyway.
Now that I have my first official two mile run under my belt, my goal was to try and extend the amount of time that I run a little. Pace-wise, I am running roughly 11:30 minutes per mile. Two miles at that pace, plus a little more, means my total time out has been around 25 minutes. I thought I would see if I could do a full 30 minutes. I decided not to worry about speed and just see if I could run continuously for the 30 – I just wasn’t sure how it would go with all the people around.
As I ran, I realized that the people on the path were all together. They were all roughly middle to late aged, roughly the same larger build, and they all had the same look on their faces – a cross between determination and misery. I’m guessing it was some kind of weight loss clinic. They were trudging (and really, that is the best way to describe how they looked,) in groups of twos and threes, with single folks scattered between them. It was weird passing around them, usually I am the one being passed! I kept noticing the single gals (the group was predominately female) and wanting to give them a fist bump or shout “c’mon! you can do it!” to them. Sadly though, I think my well meaning encouragement would have come off as patronizing, and since I had no desire to be slugged, I kept my thoughts to myself.
I eventually figured out that the group, whoever they were, were using just one section of the path as a track. They were heading up to one point then looping around and heading back. I passed one of the end points and enjoyed some solo running in the woods before I looped back myself and headed back into the crowd. Suddenly an air horn went off. All around me my path-mates popped up and started jogging! From my high point on the trail it looked exactly like a hot skillet full of water drops, all bouncing around me! It hit me – they were doing intervals! I noticed their looks of misery deepen.
Eventually I passed the other end of their loop. There was someone there with cooler, bottled water, and of course, the air horn. I didn’t hear the horn again, so I am not sure how long their intervals were. As for me, I did well up to about 27 minutes. Then my legs started giving out. I ended up alternating between walking and running the last bit. I’d walk for a few seconds, then run as long as I can, then walk again for a bit. I wish I would have made it the whole 30, but I felt good about what I accomplished. Every run is a good run.
Photo credit: Daniel Lobo on flickr