Yesterday I got some pretty bad news. My cousin, the captain of our Hood to Coast team, sent an email out to the group informing us that this year under a new rule, ipods are not going to be allowed while running. Last year, the race officials said that ipods were "discouraged," but there was no rule in effect that would actually keep you from running with one and nearly everyone I saw while running was using one. This year (apparently in the name of safety), things are different. If you're caught running with an ipod, your team is instantly disqualified. Ouch.
I discovered ipod running right before the Hood to Coast race last year. Once I started running with one, I became hooked and (up till now) couldn't imagine running without one. Like I said in my post about my first run, for me, the greatest thing to have while I'm running is some kind of distraction. This is especially important on a treadmill, but I feel it's just as important on any other kind of run. There are times when you just really need to get your mind off running, whether it's facing a huge hill that seems insurmountable or a long open stretch that you can't see the end of. These are where the ipod comes in handy. If the running gets tough, you can find a song you like and instantly, your mind is off the running. This has been my method for the past year or more. So when the race tells us that we can't use ipods on the race, it's pretty much the equivalent of them telling me something like "Hey, Walker, so you can still run the race, but you're going to have to run without that right shoe of yours."
Alright, positives, positives. Here's one: At least I'm finding out about this new rule now. I can't imagine what would happen to me if I found out about this the day before the race. It's likely I would have gone into convulsions. Knowing this now, I can slowly wean myself off of the ipod in the weeks before the race to the point where I'm comfortable (or at least as comfortable as I can possible get) without it.
Moving on. Today, I decided to up my mileage. It was nothing too drastic. My two previous runs had been on a loop around my house that stretched around 2.75 miles. Today, I added an extra block to the loop, making it 3.5 miles. While my speed still needs a little work (I finished the run in just over 8 minute per mile pace), I felt really good during the run and I didn't feel any worse from the added distance. I've been using the site mapmyrun.com a lot lately, and I found out that if I was to add a few more blocks to my run and make a loop that went right past my work, it would be right around 5 miles. That's definitely a pretty good distance to be comfortable with, so I'm thinking that by the end of the month, I'm going to make that loop a regular part of my training.
I try to notice something different on every run I go on. During Run 1, it was how out of shape I felt. During Run 2, if was how much of a buzzkill dog shit can be. Today, it was snails. While this probably isn't a totally normal thing to take note of during a run, it was hard not to today.
About half a mile down the road from my house, the road bends around a corner and begins to climb upwards for about a quarter mile. Right before the uphill, there is a stretch where the sidewalk is surrounded by ankle-high plants which, apparently, are a breeding ground for snails. For a solid hundred yards through that stretch today, every step I took, I was dodging a snail. Some were huge, some tiny, some already smashed into tiny piles, some trailing long lines of ooze. There must have been 40 snails just on that straightaway, and for an area where I've literally seen ten snails in the 9 months I have lived here, that's a lot.
For some reason, I've always been really interested by snails. I don't really know what it is about them, but I've always thought they were kind of underrated. It's not like snails do anything cooler than anything else in the animal kingdom. They can't glide like a flying squirrel or blind you with venom like a spitting cobra or do, well, much. Snails are one of those animals that just are. Whether we notice them or not, they're around us all the time, patiently going about their business. I'm pretty sure that if there is such a thing as reincarnation, anyone who is ridiculously impatient in this life is going to get reincarnated as a snail in the next. If you're a snail and you want to go anywhere that involved crossing a man made path, there's a pretty good chance you're not going to make it. Snails may see a foot or a dog's paw or a stroller wheel coming, but it's not like they can just put it into fifth gear and scoot out of the way. Basically, if you're a snail and you see something coming, it's going to go a little something like this.
So in the end, maybe there's something to be learned from snails. Those snails I saw today were attempting to cross that path at the risk of almost certain death. And for what? To me, it looked like whatever was on the other side of that path was exactly the same as the side they were coming from. But there must have been something over there. Something special. Something worth dying for. And compared to death, maybe running without an ipod isn't so bad after all.