Once a week my friend, Kristi, and I meet on Redstone Arsenal and run on the path located there. It is 7.5 miles one way, unless you add in the loop around the Sparkman center, and then it is 8.5-ish. At first we met to add variety to our weekly runs and to keep a good base of 10-12 miles during the summer while we weren’t really training for anything. We did this until a few weeks ago when I began to train for the Air Force Marathon coming up Sept 19.
Anyway, we’ve been adding 2 miles each week and so today we planned to run 16.
As usual, we arrived between 5:15 and 5:30, stretched a bit and started running. We carried two water bottles each, dropping one at the 2 mile mark so that we could have it after the loop and on the way back. We chatted away as we ran, covering a plethora of topics as we watched the morning light slowly break across the arsenal.
The path is great. It is paved and mostly smooth, passing several buildings and pastures full of cows before entering a canopy of trees. Once we get into the woods, we don’t really come out. We are running among the trees or beside until the path ends. We run behind army buildings and by a quaint little garden, where I usually spy several bunnies, to the army housing. Toward the end it gets a little hilly and it is there that I am usually very ready to turn around.
Once we reached that section today, I paid close attention to my watch so that we could hopefully turn around before we got to the bottom of another hill.
We reached mile 9.2 at the top of a hill and so we agreed to stop, have some aid and stretch before heading back. My hamstrings were extremely tight from a pilates class the previous day, and so I desperately needed a stretch break. As we were trying to stretch out our tired muscles and get in a few swallows of aid, Kristi got bitten by a horsefly. She jumped and shooed him away, but he wouldn’t go. He flew around her head, her shoulders, her legs, and would not give up. She eventually made a run for it down the hill we were avoiding and back up, but he was still with her.
During all of this, I stood there watching and chewing a gummy, grateful it was not me. That only lasted a minute because when Kristi ran by me in one of her flights from Mr. Horsefly, he decided to switch girls! He came after me, flying around my ears and my legs. I waved and stomped and squealed, all to no avail. I too took off down the hill I didn’t want to climb, running back up and then farther down the path, much faster than I preferred in the middle of a 16 mile run. Finally I yelled to Kristi, “Turn your watch back on!” and she agreed saying we could stretch a little down the way.
So, on we ran until, a few miles later, we reentered the shady part of the run. I suggested another brief stretch break once we got there and Kristi was game. We reached the shade and just as I was slowly bending down to touch my toes, I heard Kristi yelp. At first I thought it was the same pesky horsefly, but this guy was MUCH bigger and he would not leave Kristi alone. She ran farther down the path, circled back and then once again, the buzzer came after me! I took off down the path at a brisk pace waving my arms in the air in an effort to dissuade the thing from following me any further, and eventually started my watch again. I was not going to waste all that effort and not have it count toward my mileage! Kristi took off after me, as we continued on our way…quickly.
This was getting ridiculous. I just wanted a minute or two to stretch out my tight hamstrings and then I’d be good to go. But every time I got started, we’d be attacked by some sort of biting, stinging fly. We ran on a few more miles until we saw an upcoming clearing ahead. Surely we could stretch there in peace…
We could and we did. We stretched, albeit cautiously, and then continued on our way, completing our 16 miles. We laughed about it toward the end of our run. I could only imagine how silly we looked trying to get away from those flies.
But such is the adventure of a runner. We wouldn’t want those weekly training runs to be too boring anyway, would we?