I had a 13 miler scheduled this weekend, and I just wasn't into grinding out a run on an out and back on Route 201. Again. Enough so that I was kind of dreading the run. That is just never a good place to start on a longish run, or any run for that matter.
Sometimes you just need to change it up a little.
I decided to run on the roads around my parents house, something new and different, yet familiar. I hopped on Daily Mile and started checking out some potential routes, called home, and made the plan.
Up early Saturday morning, I packed my stuff into a bag and drove south. Warmly greeted by my parents, I began to unpack my bag of running clothes. Uh-oh. Where is that iPod? I dump all of my clothes on the floor, on my hands and knees digging through, searching, hoping. No iPod. Crap.
Putting the lack of iPod aside, I headed out the door and ran the 3 miles from my parent's house, past the Solon Elementary School, to the metropolis of downtown Solon, ME. Solon is, as the sign welcoming you to its border claims, "A Friendly Town." With less than 1,000 residents, everyone pretty much knows one another. Having grown up there it is funny how its places and people are familiar and yet somehow forgotten to me at the same time.
Saying hello to people working in their yards as I passed, I took a turn onto Main Street. I smiled as I remembered the houses I used to visit when I was young, noting that some of those houses were empty. Names, faces, and memories I hadn't thought of for years popped into my head as I jogged through town.
Leaving town and climbing French Hill, I passed numerous open fields. Some of these fields had beautiful working farmhouses attached; others had dilapidated old barns with caved in roofs, abandoned in the middle of a naked field. The farms in Solon raise everything from sheep to buffalo. I saw some sheep on this run, no buffalo.
Beyond the farms on top of French Hill, on a long, straight stretch of road, I passed a family collecting sap in buckets to boil down into maple syrup. The sight of the three generations I was approaching made me smile. There was grandpa sitting on a 4-wheeler shouting commands; his son, carrying two buckets of syrup to the 4 wheeler; and daughter, hopping along behind. I said hello to them, the old man shouted back, "Saps running good!"
I suddenly realized that I didn't miss my iPod at all, and was probably having a better run without it. Thinking about this, I turned onto the Parkman Hill Road and saw one monster of a hill. Check out mile 6-7.5 of my run (tracking on Beginner Triathlete):
Generally, hills don't bother me, but by the time I got to the top of this baby, I was reduced to a death shuffle. I checked over my shoulder to look down on the hill I just ran and was surprised to see two huskies jogging along behind me, tongues lolling and tails wagging. I stopped and said hi, let them sniff my hand. They were friendly enough guys, I scratched their ears, and then just said, "Go home guys, you have to go home." After a quick look at one another, they turned and ran down the hill.
This run was turning out to be way more interesting than my regular run on 201. The run out the door from my house is scenic, that is for sure, but I have to contend with constant log trucks flying by, their roar cutting out all noise, bringing with them a strong wind that practically knocks you over and sucks the air out of your lungs.
Running along, I noted I hadn't seen a vehicle in over an hour, and my last conversation was with two friendly canines. On the home stretch, I ran past the South Solon Meeting House and turned onto the winding South Solon Road. The buzz of 201 hit my ears as I approached (I can't escape it completely), and I knew I was in my last mile. My legs felt great, my calf didn't talk to me at all (thank you PT), and I was completely relaxed.
I checked my pace for the run as I cooled down, walking down my parents road. Not the best pace, but I figured I must have lost a lot of time climbing and recovering from the hill from mile 6-7.5, and besides, it was a LSD (Long Slow Distance) day.
This run was a bit of a homecoming for me - I have a new appreciation for where I grew up, even though it has been right in front of me my whole life. Running for me is a journey, feeding your mind and body. It is a way to explore new places, and rediscover places you have known your entire life.