Tuesday, Mar. 09, 2004
Dear Diary:

Ever since I read on some running site that opening your stride as little as two inches can save a runner over 1,200 strides during a 10K race, I have been obsessed with increasing the size of the steps I take when I run.

I know, I know, what's the big deal? I mean, how hard can it be to take a larger step when you run?

Well, for you athletically gifted, gazelle-like runners it's probably not a big deal. But I'm not athletically gifted. I am a penguin-like runner. It takes every bit of concentration I have to keep basic good running form and actually keep myself on the treadmill. It's only by the grace of God that I haven't rocketed off the back of the treadmill by now into the row of Stairmasters behind the treadmills.

Frankly, those stepping women have no idea how many brushes with death they have only just narrowly escaped.

Ah but now we're in that special fifth season shared by northern New England and southern Quebec, mud season. Oh yes, we do get spring. But as Audrey points out so well, it comes at a price.

Nevermind. It's spring, and that's what counts. The temperatures are well above freezing. We have our maples tapped now and are waiting the first big sap run. It's sunny. Oh, sure, the road might contain quagmires capable of swallowing me whole but by jiminy there's no way I wasn't going outside to run this afternoon.

I love running outside. Having the burden of keeping my feet properly planted on a narrow moving belt lifted from my shoulders means I'm free to work on this stride business. Despite the fact that many parts of the road were coated with several inches of viscous, porridge quality mud, work on my stride I did.

I make little deals with myself as I run. I tell myself things such as, "Look, don't have to do 5K today. Just try to Brière's place, 'kay?" So I ran to the end of my road, which is pretty much uphill all the way, and when I got to Brière's I said, "Hey, look, it's pretty much downhill back to Ian and Lucy's, why not run as far as their place?"

Shut up. It's not insanity unless I start answering myself. So there.

The beauty of going downhill is that opening your stride doesn't take much effort. Got to Ian and Lucy's and felt good enough to keep going. Spring! Sunshine! Deep, deep in my heart I was harbouring illusions of gazelle-like speed and grace.

Just past Ian and Lucy's place there's a small road with a handful of cottages. Down the cottage road rocketed a tiny little carmel-coloured Heinz 57 dog. It had the sort of legs for which the adjective "stumpy" was created. It hit the road where I was running. In some sort of bizarre I'm Going To Head Her Off At The Pass sort of move, the dog proceeded to outrun me.

Yes, yes, I was eating the dust of a dog that barely got over halfways up to my knees. Shut up. I tried to speed up enough to pass Stumpalong Cassidy but the dog was determined that it was going to head me off. Its wee legs were almost a blur. The silliness of the situation got to me and I started to laugh so hard I had to stop running. The dog immediately stopped, faced me, and after a few desultory yaps to let me know who was the boss, sauntered back to the cottage road.

I got a stitch in my side from the combination of running and laughing. I ended up having to do a mix of running and walking to get home.

Rational woman that I am, I'm taking this as a sign that I am doomed to continue to run in my short, penguin like steps for the rest of my natural born days.

Oh well, not everyone can be a gazelle, eh?

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 219.08 miles. Ten percent there rubber duck.Ten percent there rubber duck.
Oh man. This is going to be hard
Goal for 2004: 1,000 miles - 1609 kilometers

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