One of the downsides of living in a relatively small town is that there aren’t a huge number of unique running routes to choose from. We have no Eastbank Esplanade like Portland or Butler Trail like Austin. Most of my routes in Oneonta involve road shoulders and sidewalks or the high school track. All are perfect for getting it done, especially when having to think about where to go feels like it takes more effort than the run itself. Still, a person can grow weary of the same old scenery.
Which is why I finally decided to give the Susquehanna Greenway a try. Eventually, the city plans to hook it into a larger greenway system (which hasn’t yet been built). Right now, it’s a two-mile loop that takes you past our lovely Wastewater Treatment Plant, Trash Dump, and School Bus Depot. Because we Oneontans know how to party.
Actually, it’s not that bad. There’s maybe a quarter-mile of mixed-used industrial realness, then you get out into fields and beside the river. It’s lovely, really, if a bit close on a humid day. It was almost entirely empty last Sunday, save for one impressively bearded whippet-thin young dude in a track singlet who showed up midway through my ten miles. He seemed intent on getting his work-out in and passed me half-a-dozen times. I was content to let him be Mr Speedy McSpeederson and didn’t outrun him. Because I totally could have.
I stopped at one point to take a picture of a tree that kept stealing my hat — I thought it would make good blog fodder, frankly — when a lab-esque ball of enthusiasm nearly knocked me down. Wait a minute, I thought, as I wondered if he was about to eat my face. I know this dog.
And, reader, that was proven true when a friend I’d not seen in forever rounded the bend in mid-apology about the pup. Yes, I did pause Herr Garmin the Second as we stood for a few minutes and caught up. Turns out she walks this loop frequently and has figured it to be about three miles. I crushed her spirits when I pointed out that GPS confirmed that it was only two.
That's me. Killer of dreams. I should rent out my services.
She got me back, though, when I mentioned that I was about to start training for the NYC Marathon. She asked how long I thought it would take to run 26.2 miles. When I said “at least 5 and a half hours,” it hit me how much time that really is. I’ve decided denial is the best coping mechanism.
On the training front, it hasn’t really begun begun. I’d been planning to run the Old Port Half in the one, true Portland on July 9 in an effort to redeem myself from last year’s suffer fest. Rather than run with at least one of my favorite BAMRs, I’ll be putting in a 13 mile training run on my home turf, then driving up to Albany to catch a flight to Orlando. I wish theme parks were going to be involved. Instead, I’ll be getting Mom settled in assisted living and figuring out how to empty and sell a house from 2000 miles away.
While I’d be lying through my gritted teeth if I said the last few months have been anything other than stressful (because, oh my dears, they have sucked the big weenie), I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that running is what’s keeping me more or less functional. TRuns clear my head and keep the free-floating anxiety at a manageable level. My running schedule adds structure to what isn’t at all structured. And the actual running provides something concrete to focus on that also has clear goals. Either I ran ten miles or I didn’t. Either I did my middle mile at tempo or I didn’t. Those binary states provide a sense of accomplishment when it frequently feels that I’ve only got one oar in this particular smelly, brown creek and am merely paddling my rowboat around in a tiny, frantic circle.
My Independence Day called for five miles with the middle one at race pace. Thanks to Beyonce’s “Freedom,” which is my summer jam, as the kids say, I busted out that mile at nearly a tempo pace. Not what I should have done but what I think I needed, if that makes sense.
That track is possibly the first piece of music I’ve purchased in months. I’m now thinking that maybe I need to add some more current tunes to my playlist. What’s been making you pick up the pace this summer?