Labor Day is nearly over – the unofficial end to Summer. The night air breeze comes through the open window with a slight chill, but my cup of hot chocolate keeps me warm. Today begins a new chapter in my life. I’m not sure what book this chapter resides, but it’s new.
The latest issue of Runner’s World offers a few wonderful pieces on trail running. I’ve always been intrigued by trail running. The articles motivated my interested to ditch the pavement and find a trail to get lost in. Allow me to clarify before I even continue with my story. TRAIL RUNNING IS NOT HITTING THE LEHIGH PARKWAY FOR A FEW MILES. Trail running, to me – a non-trail runner, is navigating rocky, sometimes steep, terrain, hopping over tree roots while ducking under branches, watching the sun peek through the tall forest and maybe spotting a deer or two. Trail running is not about PR’s (Personal Records) and Garmin watches; cool shoes and mileage. It’s about losing yourself in nature while being overly observant of your surroundings. Typically road runners, at some point, are on auto-pilot; sure, each run is different even if the route stays the same, but not a lot of focus is necessary. When running a trail (or sometimes walking) you need to be mindful of your foot placement and lurking animals.
So, this morning I was thinking about running a trail as I jogged up the hill past my house. I’m close to a few trails and thought about hitting them one day. Something came over me and I made a quick decision to ditch my current route and run through the park to the nearest trail. Exhilarated by my decision I nearly sprinted through the first few feet of the trail, quickly hopping through the overgrown brush. I took a mental moment and slowed my pace – didn’t want to break my teeth on a rock. I immediately passed a tree marked by a spray painted skull; I contemplated turning around, but continued on. I remembered pieces of the trail from my earlier years and was hopeful in it’s destination.
Ah, yes, here we are. I hopped over a dip in the trail towards the back yard of a familiar house, recently on the market. The exit was overgrown and littered with old children’s toys. I pulled some branches out of my path and skipped up the hill out of the woods. Back to the pavement I ran through the neighborhood, past my parent’s house and danced around my childhood. On the way back home I found another trail that led me to a misty field. The sun was rising up over the valley and cast light upon an inviting bench. I took off my hat (after all it was 49 degrees when I started my journey) and sat down.
Being the traditional road runner that I am, I got up and headed toward the road to find another close by trail. It’s a short trail that’s peppered with some rock scupltures, but no real navigation necessary. I exited on a familiar road and stopped by a driveway nearly barricaded with discarded furniture. There were actually some nice pieces, but I never could have run them home, so I trudged on. About a half mile from home I came upon a house with two stacks of books at the edge of the driveway. Again I stopped, as if discovering a yard sale in a remote location, and began to rummage through the piles. Most of the books were fitness related, both of interest to me and my brother. I found four that would satisfy our brains and carried on. I felt a little ridiculous running the half mile back home with two books in each arm. Maybe it’s not as ridiculous as running with a coffee table hoisted above my head.
The trail run did the trick – it cleared the junk out of my head. Making it back to the pavement and I picked up more junk. I guess you could say that I broke even?