Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Difference A Day Makes

This post was started last Wednesday while I waited to change planes in Seattle. It has been held captive by my work laptop since then. Since I have a whole week, including month end and race recaps, to catch up on I've decided to break this into several shorter posts.

I had a trip scheduled to Calgary this week and I knew it would take some creativity on my part to get 6 runs in this week. It’s not so much that I lacked creativity as much as I lacked the follow through on that creativity.

The plan called for Monday as a rest day as it usually does. This week I didn’t need to push it to Friday, but knowing that I would be in transit the better part of Wednesday meant that I should have used Monday to its advantage. That never happened.

I had been checking the weather for Calgary on a daily basis for the last week. The last prediction I saw was for temps in the mid to high 30’s with light rain predicted. My flight from Ontario, CA to Seattle was uneventful. Seattle weather was like everyone always says it is, cloudy and gloomy. I didn’t really mind. The greater concern was the weather in Calgary. Things had changed since I last checked. In Seattle we were told that visibility in Calgary was extremely limited and there was snow falling, possibly heavy snow. The flight left Seattle with the hope that the weather would clear during the flight but with the understanding that if things didn’t improve the pilots would return us to Seattle. The pilot warned that we might do an approach and head right back up if conditions weren’t good and not to be alarmed. During the descent in Calgary could see nothing but white clouds, then the next thing I knew we were on the ground with no further discussion of conditions from the cockpit.

I had deliberately planned the trip to arrive in the early afternoon, so that I could take advantage of DST and the naturally longer days of the north. It was snowing when I landed but because it wasn’t extremely cold the roads were clear. Although leaving home at 4:00 a.m. was not ideal, I had the afternoon to myself. (Does this count as creative or just taking advantage?) I had a couple of options in mind for a run. One was to head up to Nose Hill Park, the other was the Bow River Pathway. I had packed my new Cascadias in anticipation of muddy or slushy conditions.

I ended up going with the Bow River Pathway which turns out is an asphalt multi-use trail along the Bow River. The trial shoes weren’t really necessary but they would have to suffice. This section of the pathway is at river level at points and then meanders up hill to go along a bluff well above the river and then descends back down again. The pathway goes through some wooded areas and also some open space areas and parks. I ran northwest from Home Rd to Stoney Trail and crossed the river along the pedestrian bridge that is suspended under the impressive bridge. Bowness Park is on the south side of the river but not knowing exactly how to get back to my car that way I did a u-turn and retraced my steps. Although the pathway was mostly clear, the ground all around was covered with about 2 inches of really wet snow. Besides a couple of Canadian Geese (imagine that), I saw a couple birds with long tails and the most amazing contrasting color scheme of black and white. Usually things in nature that are white are kind of yellowish, not real crisp. It took some internet searching when I got back to the room to determine they were black-billed magpies. I always thought of magpies like this:
picture from:

Not this:
picture from:

Although I enjoyed a run in a new location and the cool overcast conditions, I could tell that it would be spectacular on a sunny day. I did have a hard time getting up any major momentum. I thought during the run, maybe it was due to the fact that I had gotten up 2 hours early or possibly I was a little dehydrated from flying. I also considered that the altitude may be affecting me. Calgary is at 3500 feet or so above sea level, while most of my runs are maybe 500 or less. I don’t really know, but the 8.8 miles (14.2 km) took me 1:23:49 for 9:31 pace.

Wednesday, I visited a local orthodontist. I wrapped my visit around 2:00 and headed back towards the airport. It was a beautiful sunny day. I went by Nose Hill Park and contemplated squeezing in a run. I accidentally missed the turn off so I just headed for the airport. It turns out customs didn’t open till 4:00 and my flight left at nearly 6:00. I would have had plenty of time to get in a run. My biggest obstacle was where exactly I would change from dress clothes to running clothes and how I would get at least partially cleaned up before sharing close quarters with people on an airplane. Maybe I do lack creativity after all. Instead I wrote my trip report. I was technically “on the clock”. I will be back to Calgary soon, maybe I will get to explore Nose Hill Park then.

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