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Running on the Road

July 9, 2012

I awoke about an hour before everyone else, rubbed the not-enough-sleep out of my eyes and took stock.  My running gear, as I’d been advised, was in a neat pile by the door, waiting.  I was awake, awake, all I had to do was get out there.  So I stuck my finger into a tub of peanut butter stolen from the hotel breakfast the day before, squirted some sort of chocolate energy thing in my mouth (missing its large target, leading to a dark brown streak to adorn my clothes for days afterwards), and chased it with some granola I’d made for the trip ten days earlier.  I went down to breakfast…er..”breakfast” and choked down some lukewarm, greyish coffee.  Then, I headed out.

To town or to the park?  I had a vague idea where town was as we’d passed through it the night before – including a sketchy stretch before hitting picturesque small-town-America.  The park I’d only seen the entrance of briefly.  It was 6:45am, a time when a park can still hide sinister characters or welcome sunrise elderly strollers.  I chose the park, and was delighted to find a path that ran along a river and through a small botanical garden.

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Beautiful, right?  But did you notice that little fella in the water?  The one with the small wake behind him?  He was swimming against the current.  He’d take a few strokes forward and the river would pull him back. Then, nearly at his original point, he’d trudge forward again.

Running is often like that, and running on the road is especially like that.  My husband and I went on a nearly-3000 mile motorcycle trip to Lake Geneva this summer, going mostly on secondary (or thirdary, or fourthdary) roads.  It was phenomenal, but most days brought 10 hours of long riding, and we’d arrive at our hotel and just collapse.  Making sure we made some distances, it also meant if I had to run, it’d mean getting up at 7am and running in towns I’d only seen briefly the night before and down streets I wasn’t sure they led.

My goal was simply to run 5 miles each day, and hopefully get a longer run in during our extended stay in Lake Geneva.  Despite blazing hot days that peaked in the high-90s, I managed to get in 5 almost every day, and was rewarded by the run of all runs in Lake Geneva.

Despite being dehydrated and exhausted from the long, hot days, I set out the first day to run as close to the lake as I could. I imagined hard tar with occasional glimpses of water. Thankfully, I asked a local about a path, and as it turns out Lake Geneva– though surrounded by multi-million dollar estates– is surrounded by a 26-mile path that is completely open to the public. An Indian treaty signed in 1833 guarantees public access to the Lake Shore Path in perpetuity. Hmm..26 miles…that sounds familiar…

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With lake views to left and mansions boasting manicured lawns on my right, I traversed interesting and sometimes challenging paths for 10 glorious miles.  So enthusiastic about this gem of a path, I squeezed in 13 miles on our last day, minutes before heading out of town.

But it wasn’t all inspiring. In the middle of our stay, I decided to do a long run. I’d done all the smart things: hydrated, slept, ate well the day before. But I woke up nauseated and it never lifted.  And it was hot. and humid. and the path veered to the road where the sun blazed down unrelentingly. I knew 14 miles was far out of the question. But then I came across a house with a fenced-in garden with all sorts of sayings like…

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Awesome. Not only was I not going to complete the 14 miles, this floral fence was going to mock me.  Thankfully, inspirational sayings give you wonderfully delicious contradicting sentiments, and this fence was no exception:

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It’s corny, but in my frustrated state I took it to heart. Tomorrow, or the next day, I’d start again, only with more knowledge, even if that knowledge was to give myself a break.

26 miles… I left Lake Geneva wishing I could do all my training runs along that gorgeous path.

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