Wednesday, March 23, 2011

One-Way or Destination Runs…and Ultrarunning

Tuesday morning my trusty old Ford F-150 pickup truck had to go see the car doc. It’s not seriously ill and should be as good as new shortly. But with the bride and I working at different times and in different directions, sometime shuttles to/from the shop are logistically a bit tough.

So today I arose early and drove the truck to the garage and ran home. I call this sort of run a “destination run,” meaning that it’s a purposeful, one-way route. The garage is exactly 10 miles from home, and despite it being morning commute time, the rural roads I run on were not exactly clogged with traffic. Sure, I wore reflection and carried a flashlight for visibility, but by and large it was a pretty pleasant stroll through Franklin County.

Heard a couple wild turkeys, and enjoyed the large moon, just past full. Venus was prominent in the east, low in the sky but with discernable diameter and a distinct yellowish cast. Soon Venus faded out and the pink sky took over. I guess sailors are bummed out today: ”Red sky at morning, Sailors take warning/Red sky at night, Sailors delight.”

I’ve used this one-way technique with great success in trail running as well. When you run alone, as I often do, you either have to do an out-n-back on the trail or devise a loop course to avoid backtracking. In either case you’re closer to your vehicle. However, if you throw in either a planned drop-off or a planned pick-up , then your effective distance of new trail can double without backtracking.

For example, I’ve had my carpool drop me off at the Appalachian Trail crossing on US RT 11 in Cumberland County, PA, and run some 30 miles south to Pine Grove Furnace State Park where the bride picked me up. Or drove alone to a trailhead, did a long one-way run, and again the bride picked me up at the other end, then we circled back to grab my car on the way home. You can come up with some other scenarios, but these one-way or destination runs always seem to go fast and easy—it’s a fun feeling akin to the day before Thanksgiving or some other holiday—expectant anticipation.

Give it a try!

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