I love willow trees. They are a favorite of mine since childhood. I remember hiding beneath the curved branches and feeling like I had found a special club house beneath their shady canopy when I was a little girl. I saw a few Willow trees on my runs today and it was hard not to stop and take refuge under those welcoming branches out of the heat.

Today’s temperatures were 84 degrees with 33% humidity and 10 mph winds with full sunshine since I didn’t get to do my run until around lunchtime. It was hot but the breeze made it bearable. Where I live there aren’t a lot of shade trees along the path. Most of the time I run in total sunshine without much of a break from it until I step back into the comforts of my air conditioned home. Those Willow trees are special to me since they are so very rare along my paths! 

Today I worked on my form. I have a terrible habit of staring at the ground when I run. I run alongside the road for most of my miles and unfortuately, that means I’m often crunching through broken glass, bits and pieces of garbage and lots of odds and ends that end up on the road side where most people never think about it. When I was a kid, we used to do an annual bike-a-thon in my small hometown. My older cousin and I came up with the brilliant idea to carry trash bags on these bike-a-thons and pick up soda and beer cans along the way. We usually biked 20 miles that day each summer and often showed up at the tiny grocery store in town at the end of the event each carrying quite a nice collection of cans that we would bring to the recycling truck that often sat in the parking lot on weekends buying the cans. We always took the money and treated ourselves to an ice cream bar after our long day of riding and can collecting.  Sometimes on these runs, I am tempted to do the same. That is, I no longer would turn in the garbage for a treat – but it really would be a nice thing to see my town tidied up a bit and I would benefit from it more than most since these are my running paths.

So, back to my running form problem. I often stare down at the ground in front of me while I’m running instead of keeping my eyes on the horizen, which is better form. So, today I tried my best to keep my eyes up and my head steady. I did better, but I admit to especially having a hard time when I’d see something shiny! I’ve told all of you about how I collect coins for my son, Joshua’s piggy bank on my runs and so I really had to work at keeping my focus on form today. Luckily for Josh, I still struggled enough that I did in fact, come home with one shiny penny for his collection, so we both did well enough today. 

There is a hill near my home. It’s a slowly building one at first that soon becomes pretty painful as you near the top. At the top is a golf course, so once I reach the summit, I dodge little old men in their polo shirts and funny hats darting here and there on golf carts. It’s a good hill with a gorgeous view of the town and the mountains at the top. I love it up there. I hadn’t ran up it much recently, so today I decided to pay it a visit.  I’m glad I did. It kicked my rear as usual, so I think I’ll start visiting more often so it becomes less painful. The marathon I’m doing in October is one I’ve done before – and it has two big hills – one at about mile 6 and one at about mile 19. I think this little nearby one is just the thing I need to practice on until race day draws near in about 11 weeks.

Was there any drawbacks to my run today? Just one. I happened to run along a path that is across the street from a medium sized factory. Today some of the workers were outside smoking as I ran along the sidewalk across the street. I wrinkled my nose and pushed the pace to get past it as quickly as I could. I’m definitely thinking I’ll avoid that section next time around.  Cough cough wheeze wheeze

Stats: 7.03 miles. 11:06 ave pace (Did I mention that I had to take another phone call from dh during this run too? That man has bad timing! ) Total time: 1:17:59. 362 Ascent. 84 degrees. 33% humidity. 10 mph winds. Felt: Good.

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