With Gravity and Tailwinds

My aunt who lives in Marquette emailed yesterday to say Team Road Kill will start the 26-mile trek from the River Park Sports Complex on Hawley Street north along Co. Road 550 toward Big Bay. We’ll hit the pavement shortly after 8 a.m., just two minutes behind the mayor’s team. I still don’t know whether Big Bay is a town or a body of water or both, but I reluctantly agreed some foggy-headed time ago (February? March?) to run with Team Road Kill–a five-person co-ed group made up of my brother, dad, aunt, and cousin. It only recently dawned on me that being a member of the team also meant running five miles. Five miles in the same day.

I haven’t been to Marquette since 1992, and I’ve never visited Big Bay. Thanks to Google Street View and some of my dad’s handiwork running an elevations report, I’m starting to have some sense of Co. Road 550, its slopes and grades, shoulders and hazards. When there was discussion among the team earlier in the month about who gets the steepest hills, who gets the two-mile stretch, who gets the start gun fanfare of Leg One, and who gets the champagne and confetti glory at the finish line, I laid low, kept to myself. Waited. This tactic worked brilliantly. Everyone else on the team claimed these in turn: two-miler, hills, finish, start. This left me with the peaceful (if banal) UP spring jog that is Leg Two.

My rigorous preparation for the relay has been equal parts of watching Power 90X infomercials, clicking through segment after segment of (is it uphill or isn’t it?) Co. Road 550 on Google Street View, and trying to determine, based on the elevation report my dad sent, which miles will be mine. You can see below how I’ve tried to highlight my five miles, but is also happens–wishfulness error?–to be more down-sloping than I could have hoped for.

Big Bay Relay

That email from my aunt (no, not the one insisting that I wear a size L t-shirt, rather than the 2XL I asked for; yesterday’s email) included a hopeful weather forecast: high 80F, cool start near 50F, light winds from the south. Between the wind and the down slopes, here’s hoping I don’t have to do much running other than lightly lifting each foot in slow alternation until it’s finished.

Joggraphy

Sprinter

As long as I’m going to jog as a means of staving off poor fitness (to be perfectly clear: I would prefer not to), my satel-lited path may as well produce an apparition of something running faster than I can, like this outline of a Mooninite (Err) trucking through our subdivision. What an impressively high kick! This is joggraphy, the earth-writing counterpart to sky writing, which has been in decline with environmental concerns about contrails bouncing the sun’s heat, about pollution, about the impermanence of words written in smoke and vapor. Satellite assisted, telephonetic earth-writing: probably somebody has already created profound body of work adopting an aesthetic more sophisticated than this one. For even though I am artistically satisfied (to the point of resting for several consecutive days) with the Sprinting Err, my next even bigger jog will be of a slow, aging former athlete hunched over and wincing as he peels blood- and sweat-soaked socks from blistering, cracked feet.

And: I’m tempted to qualify the time and pace shown above. It’s pretty close to my usual pace, which is, of course, an unusual pace insofar as it often includes a mile with Yoki (who must be pulled along and who is a laggardly beast of burden past one mile), interruptions to allow Y. to do what tired dogs do to take “breaks” along the first leg of the route, and a parkour-like digression in front of Mr. Dogcrap’s house. He’s the one whose sidewalk is, shall I say, littered. Saturday’s run, screen-capped above, was a full family outing, meaning D. and I took turns pushing the jogging stroller (inside of which Is. drew figures with markers, paper, and a lapdesk; maybe she drew Mooninites). I realize that’s a lot of qualifying, considering I’m content with 10-minute miles.

Added: Apparently GPS writing is all the rage among Ayn Rand fans.