Wednesday, November 9, 2011

running in a new place

Why is running somewhere new always easier? I feel faster, thinner, stronger. I race up the street towards the trail system, headlamp in place. It's 6 am and still dark here near the Oregon/California border. Cars stream towards Medford from the Applegate, but I leave them behind as I climb to the leaf-covered trails that wind up the hills above Jacksonville. I don't have time to go far, but everything is easy. Before I know it, it's time to turn around. Behind me, I see the headlamps of other runners.

It's still fall here, the leaves drifting lazily down, the oaks and maples unfamiliar and interesting after a diet of conifer, conifer, conifer. And there's no snow.

Doesn't this look like the perfect running trail?
 When I arrive at a motel, the first question I always ask is: where are the running trails? I lucked out in Jacksonville, because they were a mere .8 mile from my door. Score!


The street that leads to the trail system. Cute!
When I used to move every six months, running was how I learned a new place. I would head out optimistically, figuring out the easy and the hard trails, the side streets, the places other runners went. I still remember some of my favorites: the Tranquil Bluff trail on Mackinac Island, a rainforest trail in the Elwha, and the bear-haunted Cross Trail. Sometimes I picked up running companions: Peter, the firefighter who always ran inexplicably in jeans; Ken who liked to belt out sixties tunes to keep bears at bay. But most often I ran solo, letting my mind spool out dreams. I still do.

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