Locked out – Columbia, SC

Posted: November 19, 2009 in Motivation

Today is my final day of travel this week as I head back home to Dawn and Kayla in Austin.  Waking up in Columbia, SC – my old college town – I was excited for some great hill training this morning.  On visits to the University of South Carolina I have a great route that takes me from my hotel on Hampton street up to the South Carolina State House and then down a long hill over the Gervais Street Bridge onto the Congaree River Trail.  An absolutely beautiful run about 10K in distance with a 3/4 mile long climb back up to the State House at the end of the run.  Although the humidity can sometimes be a challenge here in Columbia, I always look forward to this run while I am here.

State House Grounds, Columbia - SC

The morning run today started with a mist hanging over the city streets, remnants from last night’s rain.  Cool temperatures right around 60 degrees and off we went toward the state house, which in the pre-dawn morning is really beautiful – the grounds are tremendous, beautifully landscaped with some amazing memorials and sculptures.  As I covered the distance over the Gervais street bridge was looking forward to running along the river as the Congaree River Trail winds through a heavy canopy of tall trees teeming with wildlife only 1.5 miles from downtown Columbia.  As I made my way along the path that leads to the trail system I thought to myself, “Huh” – never noticed that gate before, I wonder why it is shut this time of the morning.

Much to my dismay not only was the freshly installed gate shut – it was in fact chained and locked.  Who locks a nature trail and more importantly who has the audacity to believe they are the person on the planet entitled to having a key to it?  Hard to comprehend at 6:15 am for sure.  Turned out to be quite a blessing in disguise.  I quickly turned around and headed directly back up the hill to the State house.  What is usually the leg burning, lung challenging end to my run became the middle portion today and as I crested the hill at Gervais and Main I still had 2.5 miles to go.

Gervais Street Bridge, Columbia - SC

It seemed that a campus tour was in order.  I was able to cover most of the main campus at the University of South Carolina while it lay largely asleep this morning – and was able to see it in a way that I never did while a student on campus.  (Mostly due to the fact that I was never awake quite that early)  The Longstreet Theater at the corner of Sumter and Green Streets rose up in front of me bringing back memories of lectures I attended over two decades ago.  I ran past the Thomas Cooper Library where as a first year student it took me a better part of a semester to fully embrace the fact that several floors of the building were below ground so that your elevator to the “upper floors” would actually take you down and vice-versa.

I ran past Henderson Street where I lived during my final year at Carolina with a close friend who would later stand up for me at my wedding as I would for him just a few years later.  I was able to pass the Russel House and on to the famed “Horseshoe” to reminisce about afternoons daydreaming under tall Oak trees wondering what I would be doing 5, 10, 15 years later.

What began as a disappointing start to my weekday training run turned into a great experience today – that is one of the things that I still really enjoy about distance running.  Looking back at my 2009 training log this morning today was run number 229 so far this year – every one of them unique with their own rythym and pace.  Today’s run covered about 10 Kilometers at 7:11 pace, solid given the hill work.  What made today’s run unique was that it also covered a little more than 20 years in just over 6 miles.

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