Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Train Tooted

That’s such a trivial thing for a grown man of 68 to care about, but I love it. As I ran on my favorite dirt road beside the railroad tracks today a train approached, first seeming to peek around a distant corner, howling at each crossing, then growing in size until the engine looked enormous, magnificent, terrifying. I waved with both arms and the engineer tooted twice, just short toots mind you, nothing official, but we both knew who he was tooting at. Go ahead, make my day! I couldn’t see him inside the engine - the sun was wrong, but I suspect he was smiling - they usually are. The three-engine train thundered by for several minutes, traveling opposite my direction, car after car roaring and clickety-clacking, shaking the very earth that I was running on, until it finally ended with three more engines. The black diesel exhaust of those trailing engines implied that they were working too, pushing from behind. I wonder.

My two favorite running venues today, 7.1 miles on the hilly grass trails of the park and 6.0 miles on the dirt road by the tracks. Neither of those is easy running, but they certainly are free of motorized traffic. You might meet up with a horse and rider, or a hiker with his dogs, or the occasional mountain biker, and I met all of those, but no cars! Also three deer, a cottontail, a family of wild turkeys, a hen pheasant, several great egrets, canada geese in V formation, and lots more birds.

The 13.1 miles (accidentally the distance of a half marathon) went by in 2:25:00, for a pace of 11:04. I timed the railroad portion separately, and it came in just under 11:00. That part is flat, of course. I’m unable to run continuously these days, at least for that distance on dirt and hills, so the pace represents a combination of running and walking. I didn’t feel strong this morning, not like Tuesday when I ran after a 4-day respite, but this is the longest run in a month and I’m happy with it. We have a marathon coming up, and it’s time to build back up to a 20-mile distance. I’d like to run the marathon in less than 5 hours.

A slight pain in the right knee this morning - what else is new. No other problems, including and especially the left knee, which had acted up recently but is running smoothly again.

This guy (gal?) likes to hang around our watering buckets, especially when they have water in them. Is it a food thing? Do insects chance by, to become a quick lunch? Often we have seen his/her nose just peeking out of the spout.


Beth said...

Glad you had a good half-marathon run. I bet you gave the train engineer a smile, too. Reminds me of my husband's grandfather who worked on a gravel train. Good luck building back up to your 20 miles. Is the TCM you are running?

Londell said...

Brings back memories of the trains when i was a boy on the North Dakota Farm... No matter what age, it brings back great memories... Thanks for sharing.

Don said...

I have memories like that too - waving down the train to catch a ride from Duluth to Two Harbors.

We would stand right in the middle of the track and wave until the engineer acknowledged (toot toot), then move off to the side until it stopped. One time the engineer was asleep at the switch (literally?) and didn't stop. I jumped out of the way and kept waving as the train roared by. The conductor saw me, pulled a signal rope, and the train stopped and backed up to get me.