Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Discoveries via Fresh Exertion: Another Reason to Run (and/or Walk) in 2013

2012 has been, perhaps, the most unusual year of my small life. This is true concerning things that matter much, but also things that matter less. It is true of my inner man; but it also true of my outer man, to use the Apostle Paul's terminology (2 Co 4:16). One of the things that matters less, but does matter (1 Ti 4:8), is my running practice. Here, I want to commend running to you, and also commend walking, by a list of delights discovered during physical exertion, in these cases, while traveling in 2012. I'll count these down in reverse order.

5. Seneca, SC:  I am slow to list this at #5 because in some ways it is #1 (as are perhaps some of the other locations). The way this one is first is its demands, i.e. lots of long and/or steep hills, which I go out of my way to climb and descend. Three of the four other locations offer nothing like the foothills of SC in this regard. Loving hills is not only good for the body but also the mind. Climbing, then, grants a double dose of toughness and growth. But here I list the Seneca runs behind the others for a purely subjective reason associated with the theme of this post - discovery. The Seneca routes were all known to me. I have run them many times. The other routes were all first time excursions. Objectively, and normally, I put Seneca first. But today she places 5th. I ran here while visiting family for Thanksgiving. It was on this stay in Seneca that a friend introduced me to "Duck Dynasty."

4. Salisbury, MD: I left the hotel in Salisbury for a morning jaunt anticipating it being a road run. But a mile into the exercise I found myself on a dirt trail connected to a city park and the city zoo -- a pleasant surprise. I ran here while on a trip to attend my niece's baby shower cook out. Good times, except for the traffic citation I received on the drive home (I was charged with failure to yield to a stopped emergency vehicle).

3. Fairfield, CT: Like the run in Salisbury, I left the inn headed out for a refreshing strain of the body, seeing that I had spent most of the previous day driving. Fortunately, I discovered Old Post Road which led me through a beautiful old New England residential community. The houses were large and distinct. And I ran by a church building built of some sort of stone with which I am not familiar (seen at left). The church sign said the church was organized in 1639. It did not say when the building was constructed. But it looked to be the oldest church building that I have seen. I continue to be impressed with the skills of those who know how to construct beauty in a durable manner. This run came while on a trip to spend Christmas with my parents-n-law.

2. Greenville, SC: The route in Greenville, which I got to run 3 times, could easily be #1 on this short list. It certainly would be if my standard of measurement were uniqueness (in my own experience, of course). The route consists of a network of trails, mostly paved, that belong to a high-end neighborhood into which I was not invited, but was located only a mile from where I was staying. As a matter of fact, the signs marking the trail entrances told me that the trail was for residents only. I get that. The folks of that particular neighborhood do not want their trails over-populated or abused by those who have no investment in them. However, should not good things be enjoyed by those who appreciate them? So I read the warning signs and kept on running. I have never seen such a network in such a place. What a tremendous resource. The network ran throughout the woods all over the beautiful community, by fantastic houses and rushing river waters, along the backside of many immaculately landscaped yards, over bridges, and into a tiny park. It is a fantastic set-up. I asked the Lord if He might grant my family a house in that hood. Time will tell. I got to enjoy this splendor while visiting friends in SC on what I will call a vocationary expedition.

1. Andover, MA: The Merrimack River Trail gets first place today for a couple of reasons: 1 - the surprise factor, and 2 - sheer beauty. I left the Springhill Suites by Marriott expecting to run a previously eyed trail built into a large business park. But while standing outside waiting for my Garmin watch to link with a satellite, I noticed that in the direction going behind the hotel, the trail went into some woods. I love woods. So I went that way soon to come across the sign in the pic next to this paragraph. Behind the sign is a lake around which a dirt trail lays. On this particular morning, snow covered just about everything (I got the pic online. I don't run with a camera. So sorry, no snow in this shot). And in some places the lake was frozen on the surface. I also enjoyed many streams rushing into the lake, and the bridges that cross them. This was so much better than the paved route by the large business buildings. This was just me in the woods in an unknown place already beautiful, but made more so by snow and ice. This grand surprise was given to me on our trip home from our stay with my in-laws in Maine.

Other places I have enjoyed running this year include various cities in Virginia, North Carolina, and Maine. And I also regularly experience the benefits of walking. This is an option for the one who refuses to run but desires the perks of getting outside, as God intends. It's also a good way to pray, which is my use of it.

One of the fun things about a new run in a new place is not knowing what to expect. Another thing is not knowing the roads. In other words, it's good to remember how to get back to the hotel. The simplest way is to find a road and stay on it for half the distance you mean to run, then turn around and retrace your steps. I've done that. This can, however, make for much interference in the discovery arena. So I commend some degree of risk. It's good sometimes to "go out on a limb", as they say; because that's where the fruit is.

Merry New Year.

1 comment:

  1. You made the right call in Greenville. Trails, like the gospel, exist for the joy of all.

    I've also found that some degree of risk is necessary in the arena of discovery. And, like you said, I've never been disappointed with where it takes me.

    Cheers from MN,