Monday, July 04, 2011

Not so solitary

I enjoy the moments before my long runs. It was a ritual I'd save for those weekend mornings. Where I live, there are a number of routes I could take to add up to the miles that would let me go long. In the winter, I'd usually head out west. I could be guaranteed miles upon miles of solid running paths with no red lights.

On other mornings, I literally test out the wind, gauge the sun, and decide at a moment which way to go: East? North? West?

One thing about fall and winter running I've always loved, and to this day cherish, was my zone-out time. I could count the number of other people on bikes or on foot on one hand while out on an eight miler. I've even gone a full five miles on my 10 out and back without encountering another soul, just the whizzing lights of hundreds of cars heading out into the suburbs.

I do crave city running sometimes, like today, when I was running my 5 miler home, something about whizzing past pedestrians, striding alongside cyclists or catching my breath at a stop light that feels so good.

But on those long runs, lately I've been heading east. Out there, even in the middle of 'running' season, I'll encounter far fewer runners. The industrial lands a few kilometres out that way seem to act as a barrier, that only if you were going long, it'd make sense you'd get out there. Development, it's coming, as the city starts to tear down old warehouses and put up waterside walkways and new office towers.

I'm not sure when I write something like this that there's something of a difference between me and a lot of other runners. I'm not going to call it fairweather running, but in the coldest days of winter and the humid boilers of a July late-morning bake, I stick to the roads by myself. I enjoy that time. Time to listen to tunes, time to put my eyes on the sky and enjoy the outside, time to nod or wave to that other solitary runner. Something more gritty about tackling a long stretch of road where it's just you and a handful of cyclists and vehicles.

I do love asking myself which way I'll go. It's lovely, setting out on those first steps that will end a few hours later. The path is often lonely, but I know it's well travelled.