Thursday, May 17, 2007

Trails

Since moving to NC I have fallen in love with trail running. Cullen’s house backs up to about 30 miles of fantastic singletrack, nonpareil, that follows the lakes. The trails are a perfect mix of hills and roots to be challenging, but on those runs where I want to just cruise, I can take less taxing routes. We spent the winter running through the muted landscape, but now that spring has fully come, the trails are a new experience. Barren trees have been replaced by bursting foliage and a rich, palatial canopy. What, during the winter, was a place of sleeping branches and dormant grasses, now feels like a rainforest. Running through the zigzagging trails, you can almost feel the explosion of growth as the new tendrils fight for sunlight.
Last night, I headed to the trails straight from work. It was warm—in the 80s, but we were having one of those fantastic drizzles that precedes a thunderstorm. My day had been stressful—actually, it’s been a stressful few weeks, and I’ve found that being on the trails is the best way to shut off the incessant thread of worries. Getting out there, pounding up the hills, breathing in the rich wet air, is pure release.
I usually listen to music when running. I like that it distracts me from thinking too much. But with trail running, I don’t go out of my mind with boredom if it is silent. Last night, sans music, I shut off my brain as I concentrated on foot placement and avoiding large roots and low branches. Trail running is similar to mt. biking in that regard: you almost get into this zen state of mind as you concentrate on where you’re going and what’s around you instead of what’s pestering you from the outside world. I find that road biking and running, unless I’m with someone and chatting, are a conduit for mulling over things—which has a time and place, certainly, but it is very refreshing to leave everything behind and in the trees.

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