Sunday, June 12, 2011

Too many hills, and a book review.

I went on an awesome run today. I ran the De Anza Trail from Tumacacori to Tubac (Arizona). It's 3 1/2 miles one way, and I went out and back. 95% of the trail is completely shaded and there are several plank-bridges, lots of twisty turns and great ground for running. One small section, 50 feet, is rocky, and a few portions that are too sandy for fun. The rest is soft, gentle and smooth. The trail is clean and easy to follow, undulating at times, twisty in others, and has fascinating things to see from cars formerly swept away in a flood to abandoned ranch houses to wildlife.

Today I saw a deer, she just stood looking at me as I ran. I saw countless lizards and three equestrians, tall and proud. I saw them on mile two and again on mile 6 1/2. On mile 6 1/2 they were impressed I'd been running the whole way and offered me words of encouragement and use of one of their horses. Very kind of them indeed!

About half way through the run my right Achilles really started hurting. I've been having trouble with my toe on the same side and it's definitely affected my running form. Today, the toe felt great and I made to sure to warm up by practicing my running form.

When I got back I did some research and found out that it's not my Achilles or calf, but the soleus. It's below the calf and does hurt at one spot on my heel, but it's distinctly NOT the Achilles. So, I guess that's good. Doing more reading I found out that it's an overuse injury often associated with a lot of hill training. Hello, HILLS! I ran hills, hills and more hills the past two weeks. In fact, I only had 2 runs that didn't have significant hills on them in the past two weeks.

I might be doing some bike riding this week. Luckily, this week is planned to be an easier week anyway.

I just finished reading Crazy for the Storm, by Norman Ollestad. The book, nonfiction, tells the story of how Norman lost his father. Norman was 11 when he, his dad, and dad's girlfriend chartered a Cessna that crashed in a blizzard in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Everybody but Norman died. That's not a spoiler, it's states as much on the cover!

Each chapter alternates time from before the crash to during the crash. As the book continues those times become increasingly closer until they're together. The strategy really made me appreciate what Norman went through. Each timeline on its own is interesting, but together, the way he told his story, was brilliant.

I'll say that Norman grew up in the early/mid 70's in a very different environment than I grew up in! He tells the events without judgement of an adult, though after the story reflects upon his experiences through the eyes of an adult.

While the book had nothing to do with running, Norman's father was an adventurer who had some sayings that struck me. One in particular I'll paraphrase. He said something along the lines that people quit too soon, when it gets hard, before the true beauty is revealed. He was speaking about fear while surfing or skiing. For running, it would be giving into fatigue and pain.

This book was powerful and spoke to me, even though I see the world quite differently than the author. Still, I thought about his story and experiences a lot. I especially thought about what he shared about his battles as a father now, how he tries to balance his parenting style between pushing his son and allowing him to discover things at his own pace.

He spoke about how he noticed as a child that somethings can be beautiful and dreadful, at the same time. When speaking about parenting, he states he is trying to strike a balance between honoring the benefits he received from his childhood while trying to limit the harmful effects of the same experiences.

Last thing: This is not a child-friendly book. There is a lot of language and a lot of naked people doing what naked people do. As I said, he grew up in a very strange time in a very strange place. Still, a great story wonderfully told. There are a lot of thought provoking things that happen in the book that I have not mentioned and will leave for you to discover on your own.

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