Posts Tagged ‘Silver Comet Trail’

JULY 28, 2015 (TUESDAY)

On the Silver Comet Trail this morning for 10.6 miles.  The SCT is one of my favorite running venues in the Atlanta area.  And, it’s not very crowded on a weekday morning.  I ran in the old Brooks Glycerin 9’s which now have 2500+ miles on them…still feeling good, but I can tell that the days for long runs in them are over.  Will they reach 3000 miles?  I think so…in small doses.

I think I’m still recovering from the Vol-State Road Race in which I crashed and burned picking up a DNF (Did Not Finish.)  That was on the heels of a debacle of a finish in the Peach State 300 in May which hit me hard physically and mentally.  In fact, if it wasn’t for my daughter, Season, being with me and helping me in the Peach State over the last 15 miles…I might still be there trying to finish.

I didn’t want to feel that way again, especially in the Vol-State.  But, I could feel it coming on after 250 miles. However, the big problem then was in my back with the lower back hurting with increasing pain with every few steps.  So, I decided to stop…to race again another day.  It’s just that a “DNF” is hard to swallow, especially in one of my favorite races.

I did wear the Altra Paradigm 1.5’s in their first race.  The shoes from a somewhat revolutionary company (based on evolutionary physiology) performed very well.  They held up well…better than the Hoka Clifton’s I had used in the Peach State 300.

So, the good run on the SCT had me thinking of trying to get my running through the recovery and feel good for the next race coming up.  I have a couple of problems to solve that I will be working on in training.  One is biomechanical.  The other, I think, is related to electrolyte levels in the long run.  Hopefully, I can solve those before the next race.

The next race is probably going to be “A Race for the Ages” on Labor Day weekend.  It will be a 24-hour run with some handicapping for those over 60 years of age (me.)

*Richard Westbrook

I remember in elementary school seeing maps of our country as it was being discovered and settled. Of course, it looked a lot different than it does now. What surprised me then and made me think was that the map related some eastern states or colonies as they do now, but with one dramatic difference, that being they extended to the Pacific Ocean. There it was, Georgia, stretching all the way west. What was now Alabama, Mississippi, Northern Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, or Southern California was then Georgia. Well, the map changed greatly with exploration, settlements, and people identifying with their regions. The result is that we have Georgia as it is today.

I’m glad that happened. That’s because I have a quest to run across each county in Georgia before I die. Right now there are 159 counties. That’s a lot. Just think if we reached to the Pacific. I run across a county when my schedule, training, and availability of some help allow me to do so. Right now, I have completed fifty-two counties. That leaves one hundred and seven to go. Whew!

Another thing is the Run and See Georgia Grand Prix road races. I love to drive to various regions of the state to run a race there. The race is the obvious purpose, but the drive to get there is another purpose for going. Even better is the drive home after the race. I don’t have to arrive for a race start at a certain time, so I take a scenic drive home on back roads. It may take me longer to get home, but the scenery is usually worth the extra miles. I only wish my schedule would allow me to do more of this.

Geographically, our state is one of great variety. Locked away in my memory are scenes I’ve envisioned on a run. They are special visions and experiences that add to my running. I’m enthralled when I experience the visions and the feeling associated with them during the run. Afterwards, I have it forever in my mind and can bring back that memory anytime.

From Trion, my hometown, running hours before sunrise through Summerville and Menlo, then up the mountain to Mentone, Alabama, gave me visions of a clear, moonlit sky. As the run progressed, the morning sun cast shadows on the valley below as I ran up the mountain toward Alabama. I could see a valley of green with patches of farms, towns, and ribbons of asphalt winding about the valley floor. The morning mist was being burned away by the sun, and the shadows disappearing. By the time I reached the top, the valley was panoramically displayed below. It was a beautiful sight.

...like an old, sweet song

…like an old, sweet song

Ocean breezes in my face on Cumberland Island made those runs special. There is a limit of people they let on the island at one time. This makes running there seem like I am the only one there, especially early in the morning. I seldom see other people as I greet the sun on the beach and then head inland to the trails. I have seen the horses running and I have seen them feeding. Huge gators float in some of the ponds, just hoping for an easy meal…and I keep moving. The running is softer than that of north or middle Georgia, being on sandy soil surfaces, and many miles can be run with less stress on the legs than my normal running.

The long corridor of the Silver Comet Trail is a favorite running site for me. It is a multi-use trail, meaning it is paved. So, it is not a trail in the truest sense. But, for me, it will do. Running there is convenient. I don’t have to worry about traffic. I don’t have to keep constant watch for rocks, roots, or bears. The narrow corridor offers a good running site, and is long enough to lay down some miles. It extends east to west or visa-versa.  It follows an old railroad bed, and this provides good scenery for the run.

The roads from my house to the square in Newnan provide me with one of my favorite runs. I pass through Union City, Fairburn, and Palmetto on the way. The road provides me with a long, straight route through some sparsely populated areas. I run by fields, forests, residential areas, a small airport that looks abandoned, and a railroad on which I always hope to see the train roll by me. The openness and variety of the route make this part of Georgia one through which I always look forward to run. It makes my long run a lot more enjoyable.

These are just four pieces of our state that are among my favorites to run. There are many more out there for me to discover and enjoy. My running like this is a celebration of the beauty of our state and country. The landscape and the people make it what it is. America the beautiful. Georgia…like an old sweet song.

 

“We do not own land. But, we become part of the land when we cross it. A piece of the world becomes part of me when I run across it. And, I become a part of that piece of the world.”                                                                                                                                                                       Louis Tewanima

 

By: Richard Westbrook

 

            A few days ago, my granddaughter found an old 8-track tape in a closet and promptly asked what it was.  After being told, she wanted to hear the tape.  Of course, we did not have an 8-track tape player.  So, it went unheard.

            Then, later in the week, I went to Phiddipides at Ansley Mall to buy a pair of running shoes.  As I sat there trying on the shoes and gazing at the wall covered with shoes, I thought back to the time I evolved from the Adidas Italias to the brand new Nike Cortez.  The difference was like that between night and day.

            I thought about this because the shoes I was buying now were closer to being like the old Italias than they were to the Nike Cortez that revolutionized the running shoe industry.  And, I was buying Nikes.  This reflected a change in the running shoe business.

            The way my mind works brought me to thoughts of technology in today’s world; the way we react to that technology; how we as runners fit into the world of advancing technology compared to the world of basic nature.  My shoe purchase reversed my direction from my recent running shoe trend in that I was going backwards compared to the obvious technology in most running shoes today and in the dominating philosophy of the major running shoe companies…including Nike.  It was like the running shoe companies were backtracking in their design and philosophy.

            This whole bubble of modernization and technology engulfs the runner of today just like it does everyone else.  Still, one of the major appeals of running for many people, including me, is the simplicity of the activity.  As they say, it is a sport that needs only good shoes and determination.  Even in our simplicity, we can see, use, or reject the oncoming technology.  An example is the GPS equipment that can tell the runner where, the distance, elevation, pace, and such of the run.  Just put it on your wrist and take off…it will do the rest. It is there to use.  Just take it or leave it.

            Another major appeal of running expressed by many people is the connection to nature.  This may partially explain why trail running is exploding in numbers.  There are those who run only on trails and race only on trails.  Then, there are those who will hit the trails just part of the time.  And, we have those who never run on trails.  We are speaking here of nature trails.  Those trails through the woods or in the open but are surfaced with earth and not pavement.  We are not talking of the multi-use trails that are paved to accommodate road bicycles, skates, and skis on wheels.  Such a trail is the very popular Silver Comet Trail from Smyrna, Georgia to the Alabama state line.

            One may think that a runner needs to be on nature trails running along with the sound of the wind rustling the leaves of the forest in order to be “in” nature.  Not so.  If you are “out there,” you are in nature.  As soon as the runner goes out the door, that runner is running in nature.  This fits one of Webster’s definitions of nature, the external world in its entirety.  That is nature for the runner.  This does not include running indoors or treadmill running, unless, maybe, the treadmill is outside.

            We, as runners, are active participants in nature.  The runner running in downtown Atlanta is running in nature just like the runner running the Appalachian Trail.  I run in nature when I run my familiar routes in my neighborhood…all on roads.

            One site of nature is no better than another site of nature.  It is just a different nature site.  The runner may prefer the sidewalk in the nature he or she runs through while another may prefer the local park with asphalt and grass trails; while another may choose the wooded trail with its roots and rocks and stream crossings.  All of it is nature.  The difference may be the intensity of the nature setting.

            The intensity of nature would be the degree of completeness of the environment that would reflect the lowest level of interference from man.  The Appalachian Trail would reflect less interference than the Silver Comet Trail.  So, one might think the A.T would be “more” nature.

            This might be true of the common pedestrian through such settings.  But, not for the runner.  A runner’s nature is where the runner happens to be running at the time as long as it is out there.  This is because the runner will be more aware of the setting being run through than anyone else passing through the same.  A runner is able to sense more because running will heighten the senses because of the body and mind’s reaction to the activity.  Any runner can tell of experiences in which their surroundings during the run seemed more intense with color, clarity, smells, sounds, and many other sensations that made the run memorable.  And, this is not uncommon.  In fact, it is so common that we hardly hear or read about the phenomenon as we did in the early running boom days.  It has become commonplace.  But, that doesn’t mean that it is not there and not important to enjoying the running.

            The runner is an athlete.  The runner is an athlete in nature.  The runner relates to nature in ways in which most other athletes can only read.  It happens to the runner in the cities, the forests, the deserts, the mountains, the parks, the beaches, on the sidewalks, the roads, the trails.  The sensations abound.  The senses are on high alert.  The mind is processing everything with more clarity than at other times.

            This makes the runner one with his or her nature.  That nature is anyplace and every place outside.  The runner becomes an animal in nature.  The more the runner feels like an “animal,” the more intense the running experience in nature becomes.  The runner may be unique in reaching this state of mind.

            The true runner has a calling to keep reliving the experience with nature.  This helps running become a way of life.  We runners need to keep our awareness of the experience alive.  We need to enhance our appreciation of the experience.

            On your next run, tap into the colors around you be it city or country.  Listen to the sounds be they city hubbub or forest rustlings.  Smell the odors from the pavement or the trail…see what you can detect wafting through the air.  Relate to the sounds of your breathing and your feet striking the surface.  Be aware of your body’s motion and position.  Let your mind absorb it all.  The mind will give you a high definition picture better than any modern product of technology.

            It will be your picture of your nature.  You will have it, enjoy it, and remember it.  You will repeat it.  Later runs will do that for you.  You will be an animal in nature.  You will be running and be a better person because of it.  If you are lucky, you will even be a better animal.

 Richard Westbrook

 

Next time you go out, solo or with your pack, run with your eyes wide open. Play I-Spy if you have to. Notice the beauty of the moments, the scenery, the company, and the rhythm.”

                                                                                   Kristin Armstrong,

                                                                                   Author and runner