One of the upsides of living in a relatively small town is that there isn’t much traffic on your normal running routes. Odds are good you won’t run into other runners when you go for an Eminem on a Saturday morning. If you do see another runner, you will know them. You definitely can pick a route where you’ll only have to cross one major intersection, which, comparatively, isn’t all that major at all.
If it’s nature you want, you (and by “you,” I mean me) can be surrounded by trees before your Garmin beeps its first mile. Soak in that nature with the deer and the squirrels and the sound of your own feet without ever being that far from your own bathroom. At most, you’ll run into dog walkers and the odd high school student cutting through the woods to get to the building.
It’s peaceful, mind, and predictable. And, right now, is boring the Balegas right off my feet.
I tire of seeing the same old stuff on every. single. run. If you add it all up, I’ve likely sweated through a bazillion miles in all seasons on these small town streets and paths. I can tell you exactly how far it is from my front door to nearly any point in a twelve mile radius. I know when to look for an uneven bit of sidewalk or an especially blind curve. While I tend to take an almost neurotic amount comfort in the familiar, I am so very, very, very sick of it.
So this weekend I decided to build a lamp rather than curse the dang darkness.
The internet is a wonderful thing (for the most part) and I discovered that there is a rail-trail about 30 minutes from my house. Rail-trails are multi-use paths repurposed from defunct rail lines. One of their major selling points, besides the whole recycling angle, is that they are generally flat and straight. Which, when you live in a mountainy part of the Northeast, is hard to come by.
The Catskill Scenic Trail is almost a marathon long. It connects the quirky hamlets of Roxbury and Bloomville, New York -- both of which make my town of 15,000+ look like Manhattan. The trail goes through farm land, across an inconveniently placed parking lot in Stamford, and then through more farm land. It is, as promised, mostly flat, with the only real elevation near a couple of county road crossings.
On Saturday, I convinced my non-running husband to go for a bike ride on the same trail that I was running. The plan was that we’d start at the same time, then I’d text him when I hit the four-mile mark and turned around. Then he’d turn around. That part of the plan worked and we met back up about a half-mile from where we’d parked the car.
Before I go on, I’m going to highlight what was wonderful:
- The husband and I got to spend some quality time together on the drive out and back.
- I was running in a new place and seeing new things and totally not bored.
- My training plan called for eight miles and I ran eight miles. All the winning.
What wasn’t wonderful was that I felt like deflated crap nearly the entire time. Not sure if it was a result of the heat and the humidity, which was mighty that morning, or the intensity of last week’s training, or hormones, or sunspots, or the shifting of the tectonic plates but I was wiped out before I even hit my first mile.
Adding insult: if I slowed down at all, every single pointy bug in the tri-county area would realize I’m tasty.
Still, even during the endless slog, I couldn’t help but enjoy the rolling hills and occasional babbling brook. There were barns both old and new. The smell of cow filled the air, off and on. I saw, maybe, six other people. By all accounts (except how I personally felt), It was lovely. And it was even more lovely to stop.
Once I got home and showered and fed, I lay down with the dog for “just a minute” and woke up an hour later, if not refreshed, at least marginally less wiped out. I didn’t wake up with fleas. I did wake up covered in dog hair, which is my default state.
It turns out that this same trail is used for a half marathon, which I had no idea even existed, despite being practically in my backyard. While I’m not up for 13.1 this weekend (because I have Beach-to-Beacon right around the corner), I’ll definitely keep it in mind for next year.
I’ll run the trail again before that. I’m thinking it’s absolutely stunning once the leaves start turning and the air gets crisp and I get sick and tired of my routine routes once again.
This week’s question: Do you get tired of the same old scenery? What do you do about it?