Saturday, March 27, 2010

If I'm on vacation why am I working so hard?

Today's run (Stillwell Woods): 4.75 miles

Winter showed up again on Long Island this morning - 28 degrees with a steady breeze from the east. This is my first day of vacation and I decided to start things off with a trail run at Stillwell Woods Preserve. I have no issues running in weather like this because my body temperature usually regulates after a few minutes and that was the case today. After a week of workouts that focused on inclines, (both on the treadmill and elliptical) I thought that Stillwell would be a nice change of scenery.

The morning sun was very bright at 8:00 AM when I set out for my run and as I made my was past the trail head I noticed a number of frozen puddles on the main path. I maintained a moderate pace to conserve energy that I knew I would need once I encountered the many steep inclines along the trails. I took a different route than I normally take to get into the interior of the Preserve and was rewarded by about eight minutes running on relatively flat, narrow singletrack. Shortly after that I hit a cross point and I needed to decide which way to go next. Using the position of the sun to help navigate east worked well until the trail switched back and forth a few times. I ended up on a path that terminated south at a fence. I had a pretty good idea from previous runs that this path was going to end but I wanted to attack the steep hill that led up to the end of the trail. Once I got to the top I saw a path that led east. The trail was steeply banked and it twisted around a ledge. I imagined that only a serious mountain biker would dare take on that narrow ledge, one false move would result in a quick drop about 20 feet below. Once I made it down I immediately encountered another steep rise that went on for a while. I gave up any pretence that I could run the whole thing and hiked the last hundred feet until it leveled before rising again.

Once I got past this and a few other challenging hills I returned to the mostly flat trails and headed west, guided by the shadow from the sun. I was pleased that I was able to navigate today without really getting lost and I confidently found my way out to the open field. I did one lap around on that path and then headed out to the athletic fields and finished by running around three of the baseball fields before returning to my car. As usual, Stillwell provided a tough challenge and it forced me to consider my true level of fitness. Don't tell anyone, but I think I did more work today than I did all week in the office!

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