Sunday, March 17, 2013

"Will it go 'round in circles?"

Well, yes, and.. no.  I'm still chuckling to myself at my naivety. And I found myself singing that song in my head during the run.

I did my very first trail run today at Stillwell Woods. I was there a few months ago to give it a try, but there had been something going on at the school where I was to pick up the trail. The traffic was horrific, and there was no where to park. I left without stepping foot anywhere near it. 
When I woke up this morning, I felt like I needed to do something different, even though 15 miles at Bethpage was the goal I fantasized about during work on Friday.

My virtual blogger friend, The Emerging Runner, makes mention in his blog of his runs at Stillwell. I tried to duplicate his last route on MapMyRun, but I knew there was a very low probability that I would be able to follow it exactly, having never been there before.  Lol.. there I go again.. how funny it was at the time, it's even funnier now..

His route...
                                    and mine..good lord. ha!

On the way there, there were 4 women and one man (and I would approximate them as septuagenarians) - making their way down Cold Spring Road.   I pictured myself there in 20 years. It made me smile.

I wanted to run at least 2 hours. I had no idea how far I could go on trails. I've never run them before. I packed 2 flasks on my belt, one with just water, the other with some Vanilla GU mixed with water.

There were plenty of parking spots. I parked close to the entrance. It was 29 degrees - so I bundled up. Only my fingertips were cold. I knew they would warm up by mile 2.

Arrows. Signs. Trees swiped with white paint. Mud. Bikers with really WIDE tires. Protruding roots. Sand with pebbles (turns out to be my favorite surface to run on) Flattened growth like crop circles. An old, rusted car. A dilapidated trailer.  Rocks perched in saplings to serve as trail markers. Black, blue, and green trail signs. (just like skiing) But there were no "You are HERE signs". Lol.  I took paths that I knew were not part of the route that I wanted to do. But as I scanned the terrain in the distance on each new path I came across,  I could not help myself.

I found inclines that resembled actual staircases. I flew down hills that  had my toes jammed into the front of my shoes and the ground sliding out from underneath me. My pace varied from walking and taking pictures to 'flying' almost vertically into what seemed like the center of the earth.

"What the hell am I doing here? Am I training or goofing around?"

I doubt I'd be able to move as I did if I were running with someone. I was free to choose where I wanted to go and then change my mind again in a split second. To turn back if I chose, then decide I'd like to take the risk. I never had a fear I'd get lost or seriously injured. I had my cell phone with gps. I had plenty of water. I saw it as an adventure.
..which way do we go, George?..

I recently watched something on YouTube about training by running through wooded trails, through streams, rivers, up and over cliffs and swinging through trees. Serious Play

I thought at the time that it required a lot of core stability, fast twitch muscle activation and reflexive righting reaction. I was right. How primal. I understand now.

There were 12 mph winds forcing the very dry snow to blow off the trees. It seemed like it was snowing..

I definitely need different shoes for this activity. I suffered the last 2 miles with plantar fascia pain under my right foot. With soft knees and supple ankles, I felt like I did a good job protecting my joints as I traversed the course, but I felt the bottom of my feet flexing and straining as when I was child running on the beaches and through the swamps of Bayville where I grew up. I'm not a child anymore, and I need additional support, most assuredly. 

 eww. Muddy shoes.

There is so much to say, but as I'm sitting here 5 hours later reflecting on my outing, I can tell you I have no soreness, no stiffness. (That may change 24 hours from now, however! ;)) I feel stronger. I feel limber. Despite the fact that I did not run into any wildlife as I was hoping, I felt like I was the wildlife. That I belonged. I am part of the environment I just ran. 

no car exhaust

I traversed 6 miles in an hour and 15 minutes. This included walking and picture taking and stopping to see where I was on google maps, taking video - I believe that this experience, (even thought it did not go as I thought it should have) if done on a more frequent basis, will improve my prowess as a runner.  How can it not?


I'm going to apologize for my emotional account of this outing. But good grief, it was a lot of fun, and dare I say, I felt - albeit briefly, liberated from the inevitability of the ravages of time. I felt capable and invincible. I felt young.

Runmeter Data

Magellan Data


  1. I love running there but I have only done it during events....I have to go try it again!! Love this post!!

  2. Fantastic to see Stillwell through your eyes. The place is magical. It's also rough and mean and when you run there in summer it can be horribly hot and buggy. Yet it's always an incredible experience. If you go further east you'll encounter some fun trails that drop you into places that almost require climbing tools to get out. Watch out for those crazy bikers too!

  3. You. Rock. That's amazing!!! Keep up the great work!!! :) I'm too nervous to trail run alone. :)

  4. Thanks, guys! Gigi - Give it a try without the pressure - you'll feel all kinds of springy and bouncy! ER- Thank you for all the information you disseminate, I'm sure there is so much more I'm going to learn from you! LFinch - if you go on a weekend with other people out there, you're never alone. I think the majority of runners are a happy, helpful bunch!


I appreciate you taking the time to read my musings! Thanks for commenting!