Change of Scenery

Thanks to J's sick day ("sick" day, as it turned out), I was home yesterday and so able to get outside to enjoy the gorgeous 70 degree weather before the dark hit. Well, mostly before dark.

I postponed the scheduled tempo run because my knee was pretty twinge-y yesterday. Still, somehow I decided that it would be a good day to go do some trail running. My friend Patrick had posted a link to a map of some trails in the area, and I planned to head there. Of course, as soon as I posted on facebook that I was going, my motivation plummeted, but having publicly stated I was going held me to my plans.

After my motivation failed to derail things, next my knee started complaining. This was a little more convincing than my lazy streak, so I decided to ride my bike to the trail, see if I could find it, and run if my knee was behaving.

It was a fantastic afternoon for a ride! We are so lucky to have these awesome trails around here, and today they were particularly beautiful. The late afternoon sky was rich and golden. Some bright leaves are still clinging to the trees, but the branches are mostly bare and stark and not much use against the setting sun.

2The ride was a nice one, only about 4 miles each way, which is a good thing since it's been close to a month since I've been on my bike.  I definitely need to get out there more regularly.  With all the running, my legs do fine on longer rides, but it's pretty hard on my rear, with or without bike shorts.

Once I got to where I thought the trail started, I had to do a little looking. I had a general idea of where the trailhead was, but it wasn't obvious until you got right up to it. I chained my bike to a nearby tree and headed into the woods.

This was no groomed parkway. It was a narrow, leafy trail. After a brief flattish section, I hit some hills and was quickly reminded that I do nearly all of my training on flat roads. Going uphill was hard, and going downhill was downright scary because I had no idea what was under all those leaves.

I was glad to be out there alone so I wasn't holding anyone back. I did my fair share of walking and ran where I felt like I could. After the first few minutes, though, I magically stopped thinking about having a hard time or being slow or worrying about my knee (which did just fine, thanks) and just enjoyed being out there.

The scenery is nothing dramatic--though my close-up view of three deer was pretty cool--but it was different from my usual roads. I couldn't think much about being tired because I was too busy watching where I put my feet, wondering if I'd get out of the woods by dark, and trying to figure out if forks in the path were deer trails or the real thing.

Where is the trail?

I spent a lot of time wondering where the heck I was. I wasn't super excited about being out there with no light past dark, but I was never lost lost since the trails are in the middle of several campus roads. All I'd have to do was keep heading in the same direction and I'd find my way out.  Eventually.

I managed to complete the loop (and yeah, I know I sound stupid worrying about getting lost on a loop trail, but there were several forks. And I probably could get lost on a simple loop trail.) before dark, though it was pretty dusky. Luckily, I had a headlight in my bike bag (bought for 2009's Ride the Rivers century and never used), so I put that on and switched on my flashing rear light.

Finally the dark

I had an uneventful ride back home, and I didn't actually have to switch in my headlight til I was almost home.

This was a great run, not because it was fast or because I pushed myself and succeeded or anything like that. I timed it, but the time meant nothing to me bc I have no idea how far I went. The terrain was more difficult than what I'm used to, but I spent plenty of time walking.  It was great purely because it was.

I read tons of runners' blogs.  They're addictive.  And while I'm always impressed and inspired by the amazing things people accomplish (speeds or distances that I'm nowhere near), the thing that seems furthest off for me most times is finding joy in running. 

I don't run because it feels good.  I run because I hear about an event and think, I wonder if I could do that.  I run because I like coming up against a challenge.  I run because I like to be able to fit into my jeans.  I run because my dad died of a heart attack at 58 and I don't want to.  All these things are something you can measure and work towards. 

You can't measure joy.  There's no training plan to work up to it.  You simply experience it when it shows up.  And yesterday, it did.


  1. Hi Kate! I zeroed in on your paragraphs on the joy of running and the reason you do this.

    You know it actually comes and goes for me - the joy that is. Right now you might be reading a joyful period in my running in most postings. Generally, right now it is going pretty good and at times I can say the best my running has been since my 20's. The irony right now though - the more joy I feel the longer and further I push myself. The irony is that I DON'T FEEL like I am really pusing myself. It is just freely coming out of me right now.

    Yet, there are times (actaully today is one to be honest) when I don't have much desire to run. I am just tired today. My body and mind both feel it. What carries me forward on a day like today - personal motivation not joy. My Father died much too young of heart attack as well, my secondest oldest Sister who died of Lung Cancer and never smoked in her life or lived in that enviroment. Plus, my kiddos. I always want my kids seeing their Dad aspire to something that seems impossible to do.

    When I lace them up again, which will be tomorrow (early AM) and start kicking the asphalt - the joy will come again at some point in my run. Yet, that motivation will always be a constant.

  2. Those trails look so nice and peaceful - perfect place to be LOST :).

    I have done things like Pikes Peak Marathon, which I feared for about 10 years, and it wasn't all that bad, really! You just gotta believe and I truly think there's nothing you can't do!! Well, within reason :).

  3. Again you amaze me - I am not as brave as you - going out on trails alone -I'm sitting here worrying about you just reading this...

  4. many possibilities out there... :)

    Kristen...small, safe town.

  5. The trail pics are beautiful and inviting. So inviting that since I took tomorrow off I'm going to go enjoy them myself!

  6. Great post and pics! We are very fortunate to have such nice trails.

  7. You said that the pictures weren't dramatic but they just melted my heart with their peace and tranquility! We don't have trees around here like that so I really appreciated the beauty.
    I LOVED your comment about joy...I get it:) .


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