It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, not Christmas, which only leads to dreadful, depressing winter. I mean it’s early Summer! The promise of warm days is here, sunny hikes with flowers bloomed abound, and best of all, so much time between now and when it gets cold again! Drink it up, man.

Last weekend I had a lot of trouble running long. I didn’t know exactly what it was but it felt like the runner’s equivalent of writer’s block. I just got anxiety and wanted to turn around for home. So I got an idea.

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Friday night’s run. Slow, because I was stopping and smelling the roses.

I run the same out and back route, with only the alternative of left or right at one point, every time I run at home. It’s good for me, in that it’s a super hilly out and back route, so my training run pace is always slower than when I get out on a racecourse that is rarely hillier than home. But at the same time, it was really losing its appeal. I was bored.

I only have so much time left until marathon training kicks in officially. I’m continuing to run and work out, not at super serious training level, for the next two weeks, but right now I have a little luxury. So I decided to take it. I run my path at home a lot because I know it; I know where there are sidewalks, I know where to avoid potholes, I know where the uphills and downhills are; I know where the turns take me; it’s safe and efficient, I don’t find myself coming to a roadblock or happening upon something that makes me want to stop and investigate.

But yesterday was a gorgeous Friday afternoon and I knew I’d have to spend most of the rest of the gorgeous weekend packing for my move and writing papers for grad school. So I hopped in my car with just my house key, car key, ID, and credit card hidden in the back pocket of my capris, drove a few miles away from home, and parked my car. And I started from there, to see what I could see.

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My plan had sort of been to see if I could figure out where this one lake about 5 miles from my house was without getting lost or using a map. It didn’t quite happen; I would have had to take neighborhood streets and also I hadn’t brought any fuel to get me through a 10 mile out and back route just for a photo op. But I did pass this sort of swampy little pond in the first mile.fridayjune6run3

The sidewalk ran out just before I hit 2 miles, so I took a right turn down a sidewalk I almost missed. I had been debating crossing the road during rush hour and climbing the middle barrier just to get to the other side of the road where there was a sidewalk; instead I saw a sidewalk almost obscured by some brush that took me behind the backyards of cute little houses and eventually, to a path circling this pond. And how gorgeous is this little sitting area? I imagined myself living in this little neighborhood and reading on one of these benches every afternoon in nice weather.

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The path around the little pond was only maybe an extra quarter of a mile and I debated circling it again, but then I noticed something else.fridayjune6run5

The neighborhood backs up to this totally fenced off grand open area of woods. A big sign on it said “NO TRESPASSING” and I imagined all the little woodland creatures that made their habitats back there. How gorgeous is this? I wish we blocked off more areas for wildlife to live at peace with no intrusion from humans. I have this quiet (okay, not so quiet, none of my friends would be surprised to hear this) little fantasy of living alone in the woods. Hopefully with a happier ending than Chris McCandless/Alexander Supertramp, but that’s why it’s a quiet little fantasy. I’d inevitably go wrong and eat some poisonous berries. But it’d be nice to get away in peace and solitude for a while.

But for Friday, I had to settle for the other side of the fence, before turning for home.fridayjune6run

Been hearing this all my life, road sign. Maybe I just don’t care.fridayjune6run7With a little over 2 miles on my watch, the setting sun hot on my face and making the bottle of water I’d brought quite warm, I had to turn and head for home. I may go back to this route another day and stick to the other side of the road to go down even further, or I may go back and visit that little roundabout pond. Maybe I’ll even do both on a long run.

Or maybe I’ll keep finding new trails and roads and sidewalks and paths. After all, running has been my own way of standing on my desk, Dead Poets’ Society style. Driving around I miss so much that I get to notice when I’m trudging along on a run. And what’s the point of running if you can’t run happy?

Do you have a favorite route to run? Do you ever change it up? What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen on a run? 

 

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