Another beautiful day! Joseph and I went over to the MSU South Research Farm this afternoon to run on the gravel roads. We met Steve Shaffer there at 3 PM and jogged about 5 easy miles. It was about 53°F, partly cloudy, and with only a slight wind. I had hoped some of the kids that did the half marathon the day before would join us, but was not overly surprised. I imagine they were somewhat sore. I know I was. However, I have found that if I do an easy run the day following a race or hard workout, then my legs will feel much less stiff the next few days than if I did not run at all. Today was no exception. We were all pretty sore to begin with, having all run the half marathon the day before, but after cruising along for 40 minutes, all three of us felt much better! We went at a pace of which we could easily talk the entire way. Then we spent a good 20+ minutes following the run stretching.
Steve Shaffer, our running partner today, runs with us quite often. Steve is a 57 year old professor of political science at MSU. He is in incredible shape and routinely makes active college students appear out of shape by comparison. He ran the half marathon in 1:48 wearing dress slacks with a belt, long sleeve shirt, winter jacket, scarf, and winter hat. The best thing about him is his never ending positive attitude and enthusiasm. He constantly reminds us to have fun and push ourselves at the same time.
We like running on the dirt/gravel roads because it seems to be a lot easier on our legs. The gravel is not always easy, but you can usually find the areas of tire travel to be clear enough. Also, I feel like running on gravel makes your ankles stronger, and, if you run on gravel, it is harder to run fast. So, when you get on a paved road or track, it seems much easier. The south farm is great because it is hilly. It is a pastoral place to run, with cows, horses, and catfish ponds. If you run on Sunday or Saturday on the farm, there is virtually no motor traffic. During the work week, the MAFES employers are present, especially until 3:45 PM, when there is a mass exodus of folks leaving work. Therefore, on week days, you should either run early in the morning or after 4 PM, unless you don’t mind getting dusted by the trucks! Actually, they are generally very nice, and slow down for us.
We have lots of routes mapped out on the south farm. One of our favorites is doing the entire outer loop one time, which is about 7 miles. During the fall, we also incorporate the MSU Cross Country track into our loop, which is adjacent to the farm. Unfortunately, during much of the year the track is not run-able because cows graze out there. Only in Mississippi could something like this occur. Two years ago MSU hosted an SEC cross country meet on this course one week, then two weeks later there were cows on it. I guess that tells you how very little the sport means to our university! The MSU runners can only use it to train on for about two months, and that is during their season. Not only that, they have to get the course in shape themselves. This year, we had 60+ people from Starkville High School help them out. We spread sand in cow hoof prints, pruned branches, and otherwise got the course ready. What a bummer we can’t train out there all year! This is a great course when it is in shape though. Rolling hills, one very big hill, and just a pretty place to run.