Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happiness on the Stillwell trails



Click Replay to watch my route animated


I was bound and determined to break out of my neighborhood for a run this weekend. Yesterday's run was great but I've been missing the trails a lot. This morning I headed over to Stillwell Woods for a change of pace and I figured that a few hills could only help my conditioning. For those not familiar with Stillwell, here is a nice pictorial that I found online. The weather was beautiful, mid-40's with sun and no wind. I set out with only one goal: to go farther north than I'd ever gone before on that course.

Stillwell is a dense collection of tracks with many turnarounds and many technically challenging ascents and descents. There are lots of areas within the preserve that have different surfaces (sand, rocks, dirt/mud). I don't have the greatest sense of direction but I can guess fairly accurately based on the position of the sun and the time of day. At least I thought I could. I consciously focused on my start position in relationship to where I was headed. The trails split often and taking a left fork will often as not wrap around and take you completely in another direction after a few hundred yards. Despite my guess that I was heading northeast, I was on a southeast vector until I recognized a trail and changed direction.

Eventually I headed east and north and achieved my original goal. I chose a number of single track trails that I would have avoided in the summer because of the narrowness and overgrowth. I encountered some steep rocky hills that my Helly Hansen Trail Lizards dispatched with ease. It was quite by accident that I came so close to the northeastern corner because I thought I was heading back to my point of origin (west) as I made my way east. I stopped after about three miles to let a bunch of mountain bikers through a tight area and I checked my compass to discover I was far off from where I expected to be.

After heading back I reached the large open field that sits west of the treed majority of the preserve. After all that dense woods and uncertain navigation it felt like I was on a plane that had broken through heavy cloud cover to reveal the airport below. I felt so strong and energized that I ran past the exit to the athletic field in favor of tearing across the open field for a mini-cross country run. I ended up running around that open field one more time and I used a runner in the distance to pace me until I exited where I'd originally started. In all I covered a little less than 5 miles and still felt like I had more to give. I'm really fortunate to have an amazing place like Stillwell so close to my home.

2 comments:

  1. great feature with the animated map! So cool!

    Check out my latest blog!
    http://runningfool-ootaynee.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks - further illustrates the point about navigational challenge...

    ReplyDelete

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