OK, maybe not all numbers are bad

Yesterday, I said I don’t pay a lot of attention to numbers. That’s not entirely true. There are certain numbers that rule my active life. Here are three:


2 is the minimum number of hours I like to be on the bike, road or mountain, to consider it a workout.
30 is the minimum number of miles I like to ride on a road workout.
20 is the minimum number of miles I like to ride on a mountain bike/fire road workout (Umstead and Lake Crabtree combined, for instance).
1:00:00 That’s actually 1 hour, or 60 minutes, the time I’m currently trying to break on my weekly 6.0-mile training run on Umstead’s Company Mill Trail. (The cartographically anal among you are likely thinking that Company Mill is only 5.8 miles. It is. I tack on the 0.2-mile Inspiration Trail for an even 6.)
This morning, I had no intention of beating that time. Monday, I had ridden 23.2 miles at Umstead/Crabtree, Tuesday I did a 31-mile morning road ride with Alan. My legs were worked. I just wanted a nice, easy run. 1 hour, 5 minutes would be just fine.

And that’s about the pace I was on with about a mile remaining. I was bounding down a modest ridge (after walking up its backside) when, in mid-bound, I looked down and, between splayed legs, saw a 2 1/2-foot copperhead stretched straight, catching some rays.

You know how long jumpers take multiple strides in the air to stay airborne? Or when the Flintstones start their car and their feet go like mad for a couple seconds before the car moves? That’s what I felt I was doing to avoid coming down square on the copperhead. I managed to miss him, and with the adrenaline boost managed to Jim Ryun it back to the trailhead in 1:03:46. No PR. No trip to the ER, either.

Recommended listening: Today’s the State of Things on WUNC featured Barry Popkin, a professor in the Department of Nutrition at UNC-Chapel Hill and author of “The World is Fat,” a look at how not only the U.S., but much of the world, has become fat. (Fact: 50 years ago, 100 million people in the world were overweight; today, that number is 1.6 billion. The show bogs occasionally in numeric minutia, but overall it’s a fascinating listen about how we got where we are. Listen here.

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