Saturdays are my mileage runs. today was 3 miles, the longest I've run since the official start of my training. I decided to head over to the local park and run on their trails through the woods, taking my trust ipod equipped with nike+. this handy device tracks my time and my mileage (though the calibration is off so I actually run farther than it tells me) and announces milestones during your workout so you don't have to keep looking at the screen, you can just run.
I started off on a gravel path along the lake, thinking it would circle around. I found myself too soon at the end of the gravel, but there was a dirt hiking trail that went into the woods. it was great, just me and the trees. and some roots and a little rain.
.5 miles completed
I kept going deeper into the woods and the trees got thicker. The trail went uphill. and downhill. it crossed with other paths and I tried to take the ones that wouldn't dump me in the lake. it started getting muddier and the underbrush grew in on both sides. I had to work harder to concentrate on avoiding roots and encroaching branches. I almost tripped over a turtle. I was starting to get a little worried when I saw a break in the woods and the trail led me out to a field of tennis courts.
1 mile completed.
I followed the trail through the field and it ducked into the woods again. a few steps later it ran into paved trail that skirted the woods. I saw a few trails leading off back into the woods, but they were leading back in the direction I had come from. the pavement took me over a river on a small bridge, and into a picnic area parking lot. I decided to loop around and head back, taking one of the side trails off into the woods.
halfway point. 1.5 miles remaining.
this is what I had been waiting for. I was past the wall. I was running. and I was enjoying it. adventure and peace all at the same time. then I realized, I was on the wrong side of the river. I went a little further, hoping for a bridge... but instead the trail twisted completely away from the river. I turned around and headed back toward the paved trail.
1 mile remaining.
I crossed back over the bridge and the river, and took the next track back into the woods. this trail was more narrow than any that I had been on. and definitely more muddy. it followed the river for a while, then started twisting away in the direction of the tennis courts. the growth got thicker on either side, and I got a few scratches as I ran through a section of thornbushes. the land dipped down and things got muddier. my foot slipped and I wound up ankle deep in mud. but I kept going.
.5 miles remaining.
the trail twisted back towards the river... uphill... downhill... through another mudpit... duck under this branch... jump over that log... I felt like I was back in cross country. maybe extreme cross country. running on a muddy hiking trail. I even had to stop and walk on a branch over a giant mudpuddle. not even joking.
400 meters remaining.
the area around me started to look familiar. I broke out of the woods onto a field. there was a huge grassy hill on the back of the tennis courts that I flew down. I rounded a court and saw where I had come out of the woods earlier in my run.
300 meters remaining.
I went back into the woods and down the trail. the path diverged and I went right. oops. I don't think that was the way I came in. the trail split again and I went left. paths were crossing eachother all over the place, I gave up trying to remember where I had come from and just kept running.
200 meters remaining.
then the trail started to drop. great. I was running downhill, on a water-rut filled rocky path, that was covered in mossy roots. now was not the time to sprain an ankle. I reached the bottom and the trail twisted toward the river.
100 meters remaining.
the trail turned back and of course, uphill. oh well. no one ever said this was going to be easy.
congratulations. you have completed your 3 mile workout.
ha. I was still over a half mile from where I had parked. and in a completely unfamiliar area of the woods. but I had finished. it was difficult and dirty, but I finished. and... I actually enjoyed myself. just me and some nature... and my nikes
and some mud....