Albany Sand Dunes

I work near the last natural sand dunes in Georgia.  I have driven by the dunes for  about four months and today I decided to run on them. I have not run on any trails since early 2009.  I have been running one to three miles on the  concrete trail along the Flint River with my road shoes. Today I worked until almost sunset so I decided that it was a good day to run in the sand dunes.

What I first noticed about these dunes when I arrived in Albany is that on weekends they are full of all terrain vehicles (ATV) and dirt bikes.  During the week they are used as a sand quarry.  There are no trespassing signs on all of the gates to the dunes.  It looks like the local thrill seekers and Albany State University (ASU) athletes ignor these signs.

 I have observed some ASU track athletes training on the sand dunes.  I use to run in the deep unpacked sand on the beach when I lived in Southern California.  I know the training benefits of running in deep sand.  I want to build up strength in my right knee with has scar tissue from an old basketball injury 20 years ago.  Running in deep sand also allows you to have a low impact work out while also building your quads.

So since this was my first time running this area I decided to run as close to the edge of the dunes and see what the distance was to loop around the dunes.  I ran for 2.4 miles in about 25 minutes and made a meandering loop around the dunes.  I finished the run by walking twice to the top of the tallest dune near my starting point.  The path that I took was a mixture of hard packed red clay, deep sand, gravel and grass.  I was really excited to be running on a surface that was soft and natural.  This is the perfect place for me to train without fear of getting knee injuries due to my desire to push myself into running too long too fast.

Birthday Number 58

My wife asked me how I felt after one more year on the planet.  I responded to her question with the fact that I do not measure my life, goals and accomplishements by the birthday calendar.  I measure my goals by the calendar year.  Every goal that I have set for myself is based on the calendar year, not by my birthday.

So in my usual fashion, once I make a statement of this is how things are, I ask why?  So I decided to make a birthday based goal.  I already have a goal to run in the Snickers Marathon in Albany Georgia in March 2011.  So on my 60th birthday I will run my second 100k race which is a hare over 62 miles.

So this is a long two year goal. I have done this before so I know it is not impossible.  There is a different twist with this goal in that I do not know where I will run the 100k.  that is the part that I will have fun planning while I am training.

Run what you brung, no matter where you are.

Today I created the possibility for running in the Snickers Mardi Gras Festival Marathon in 2011.  This marathon is held each year in Albany, Georgia on March 5, 2011. I have completed my hiatus from running.  My long break from running came when I completed a 62 mile trail run in January 2009. I had to stop running because I could not afford to buy running shoes due to my immense credit card debt.  I have since paid off all of my credit cards, started a new job in a new city, so I started running again this month.

Starting to run again allowed me to break a barrier that I have been through before.  Even though I am nowhere near to the physical condition I was in when I ran 100k in 16 hours, my mental state is unstoppable.  I know that I can train myself back to the level so that I can run 26 miles on the road. I had great coaching when I was taking running classes in Austin Texas.  I am starting off slow and I will gradually build up my running distance and speed through patience and balanced workouts.

Albany Georgia does not have a huge network of trails or high end running stores like Austin Texas.  There are a lot of things that do not exist in Albany.  The closest Whole Foods is three hours away in Atlanta.  I cannot remember when the last time that I say any aircraft in the sky over Albany.  There is a regional airport, but I never see anything flying over Albany, no helicopters or single engine planes.

So instead of lamenting about what is not in Albany, Georgia I am cherishing what is in this city.  I work at Albany State University (ASU).  The ASU campus is right in the Flint River.  There is a paved river trail that goes from downtown 2.4 miles to a lake created by a dam.  Having access to a track and an earth dike at the ASU campus gives me a place to do some hill work and some speed work right next to my office.

I do have a renewed confidence in how I run.  When I first started running (again) in 2001, I had never run for more than 10k.  I had stopped running way beck in my mid 30’s. I ran 100k when I was 56, and I loved every minute of the run.  Now after completing 4.5 miles today, my longest walk run in Albany, I do not have to wonder if I can run any further, I know I can.  Being in the present and knowing that you are unstoppable in your goals is powerful.