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Jeff C.

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Jeff C. last won the day on September 22

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  1. Jeff C.

    Twilight

    It's truly unfair, and it's been suggested that even as a man, I'm undertaking risky behavior. Although In truth, I *never* see anyone else out on these trails except the horse tours, so it's probably a very safe place to run (safer than the street anyway). My daughter's been out a few times, but never at night. I'd prefer she run the trails with me, but I'm not the running buddy she's looking for.
  2. Jeff C.

    Twilight

    The sun already set, not below the horizon, but behind the cauliflower clouds, a halo hanging just above the earth. Orange-brown light bled through the thin spots like an iodine stain, and it rimmed the crest with a subtle ember glow. The entrance to my trail shrouded by the gloom. I was late, too late. Helping Eli with his homework, I let the evening slip by. I saw the clock and snapped: “You’re on your own. I need to go run.” Ten minutes later, I stood with my car at the trail-head, contemplating my usual route, wondering what would happen if I ran the woods in the dark. Across the street, another option, an out-and-back winding across a field. I avoid this trail. Too public, too many horses. This night I chanced the field. The horse-back riders probably long gone, heading home for a late dinner and a glass of wine. I started at a trot, my only warm-up. No stretching, no high-knees, just the short drive from my house. My muscles already loose, the temperature hovered close to ninety. Gaining speed as I churned up the half-mile slope leaving the stream-valley that parallels the roadway, thick, watery air caressed my cheeks and arms, comforting, but difficult to breath. My shirt and shorts already clinging with sweat. Out across the field, a dirt path gashed through the end-of-season grass, waist-high, gone to seed, harboring countless rabbits and a family of white-tail deer. The critters bounded away at my intrusion on their evening meal. The twilight deepened as I rounded a farm-house and followed my trail into the woods, worrying a bit about the descending darkness and the knowledge that I was still running away from my car. As I turned to retrace my steps, I pushed up my sleeves and twisted at my shorts trying to reduce the friction of my soaking clothes. My sodden ball-cap, fully saturated, couldn't absorb any more sweat. Rivulets streaked my face and glasses. The rhythm of my feet striking the disappearing trail broke the silence of the twilit dusk. Mid-field, I once again disturbed the grazing deer. They scattered through deep grass and over a decorative wooden fence to perceived safety. Gliding down-hill towards the stream, I shivered. Despite the temperature, my wet clothes sapped my heat. My muscles, tapped of energy, prematurely began to cool. As I recrossed the stream, I walked—unable to see the water and trip-stones clearly in the dark. Back at my car, I realized that night had settled over the park. I had a momentary flash of panic that my family might be worried about my safety. As I returned to my calm, well-lit house, I tried to match my family’s mood—they were in social mode. Eli done with his homework; Sophie taking a break from hers; Susan, her evening responsibilities complete, holding court in a good-natured conversation. Instead, I retreated, alone, to my screened-in porch, quietly drinking a glass of water. More at jefftcann.com
  3. Jeff C.

    LSD

    Oops, more at jeff.t.cann.com.
  4. Jeff C.

    LSD

    A long time ago… The four of us huddle in the dorm room, lights low, a single candle burns on the coffee table. The candle sits in a mountain of wax covering what was simply a Budweiser bottle just a few hours ago. Each of us digs at the candle, at the wax-mound with glowing hot paperclips. Heat the paperclip in the flickering flame, sculpt the wax; heat, sculpt, repeat. We’re stoned silly. And profoundly drunk—yet hyper-aware, attuned to our surroundings. Deafening music rattles the room. Screaming guitars, pounding bass. Each note dissected and analyzed. Our sharpened senses register the smallest nuances—the pulse, the electricity in the room. Our dilated pupils catch the slightest movements. All except for the half-full bottle of beer sharing a bookshelf with the stereo speaker. Ever-so-slowly, the bottle has vibrated its way to the edge of the shelf. It teeters. Eight eyes snap to attention, watching. The bottle tips, plunges to the carpeted floor. It hits just beyond parallel, spits out a splash of beer and bounces up straight. It lands squarely upright and sticks the landing. A small fizz of foam escapes from the neck. But barely enough to dampen the carpet. We dissolve into laughter. A half an hour later, it’s obvious the trip has climaxed. We begin the long process of sobering up. Wait. This story is about the other LSD. Runner’s LSD—Long, Slow Distance. The last time I ran fast was a year ago—during the first loop of the two-loop Big Elk Trail Marathon. I was well trained, fit, properly tapered, and mentally prepared. I attacked the first half—a brisk pace, everything according to plan. But then the heat picked up, and it picked me apart. The temperature took control. The second loop was more of a jog… or a walk. I’m not sure I’ve ever recovered. It took me weeks to get my legs back. By then, I’d settled into a plodding jog—sixty to ninety seconds off my pre-marathon pace. My running program stalled for the summer. Maintenance mode: one run per week. Out at sunrise each Saturday, the grass drenched with dew, pockets of chill still in the air, I’d jog off for an hours-long run. Slower and slower each week. Months later, for my October birthday, I checked an item off my bucket-list. I knocked out a 50K. Running at a pace I could sustain all day, I did just that: I ran all day—or most of it. My languid pace reinforced by achievement. That slightly sore heel I ignored all summer finally stepped from the shadows. Plantar fasciitis—a hobbling case. I took a break from running. Nothing until March, almost: In November, I ran my favorite season-ender. A rocky, hilly 15K in the foothills of the Appalachians. When the gun went off, the small crowd raced away from me. The men, the women, the seniors, even the children, they all set a pace I couldn’t match. Historically, I’m a mid-packer, occasionally an age-group winner. For the first time in my life, I lost a race. I came in last. My winter break is over. My foot is mostly healed, but I’m limiting my distance anyway. I’m capping my runs around five miles right now. When I started up again, I vowed to use this cautious, low-mileage period to work on speed. I planned to push my pace back down to a respectable clip. I’m not trying to win races, but I set myself a clear goal: don’t lose again. In the two months since I restarted running, I’ve focused on a couple of primary workouts. Tempo runs and hill repeats. These are my favorite ‘hard’ runs. Speedwork? No—I figured I’d put that off for a while. Here’s what I found: The running I’ve enjoyed the most this year is when I’m grinding up a long, relentless hill. As it turns out, I like running slowly. It relaxes me. I enjoy my runs more when I jog. I don’t mind running hard—many of my hills are tiring even to walk—I just don’t seem to like running fast anymore. My long, slow distance runs throughout last summer left me feeling peaceful, happy, maybe even intoxicated. I didn’t notice because I wasn’t paying attention. I gave up drug use decades ago, but I only quit drinking last year. Alcohol was an addiction that weighed heavily on me. There was no joy in it, it no longer relaxed me. Alcohol became something to fret over—it stressed me out. And a few months later, without realizing it, I replaced alcohol with distance—long, slow distance. My new drug. I won’t say that I’m done trying to push my pace; I might even attempt to train-up for another age-group medal someday. But for now, I’m done beating myself up over LSD. It’s become my favorite way to get a buzz.
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