Sunday, December 5, 2010

Seven the hard way at Stillwell

Today's run (Stillwell Woods) 7.2 miles

Due to tight schedules around yesterday's party I had to keep my run fairly short. Today I considered a trip to Bethpage to attempt a long run on the bike trail. The temperature was in the low 20's with the wind chill so I decided instead to head to Stillwell Woods. I figured that the woods would cut the wind and provide better running conditions than Bethpage. Plus Stillwell is closer and I get in for free.

I parked close to Southwoods Road, purposely locating my car as far from the trail head as I could. I figured I'd add some extra distance by running the quarter mile road along the way to the woods. I felt strong winds at my back and looked forward to warming up further as I ran. I followed my usual loops through Stillwell. After two years I know some trails well enough to run with confidence. That's what I thought anyway. I was moving along, feeling good, and after four miles I varied my route and cut through the southern part of the woods that led me back to the main trail. At that point I was feeling like I'd mastered the geography of Stillwell and despite choosing paths that had many gradual inclines I felt strong. I decided to run for a couple more miles and restarted my usual loop, but at the six mile point I found my way into unfamiliar territory. With only the sun to guide me I followed trails that I thought would bring me back to my starting point.

It may have been the slight anxiety that comes from being lost or the fact that I encountered some steeper rises but I began to feel tired and frustrated by the lack of directional context. Maintaining my sun-based navigation method I eventually came to a path that I recognized and I followed it west until I reached the playing fields at Stillwell.  From there I ran straight across in a beeline to my car. The freezing winds hitting me head-on were brutal and that last quarter mile seemed to take a very long time. I quickly got into my car and downed an electrolyte drink, sweating and freezing at the same time. I was happy to have covered over 7 miles today, bringing my weekend total to almost 12. I guess I'll have to wait another day to run 10. Seven in the woods was plenty hard today.

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