Yesterday I ran 18 miles on the road in Truckee along a decidedly un-inspiring route. I had hoped to run Wednesday, but a very wet snow storm blew all morning. Happily, the storm passed, the roads were plowed, and the sun peeked through. It left me thinking about the different ways that I choose to enjoy the hours that I spend running on the road before the trails in Tahoe become widely available.
Gratitude is one of my best tools for finding running inspiration. Yesterday I was thankful that the weather cooperated and that I was able to find some flexibility in my schedule this week. What good fortune I have to live in a place where I can skate ski on Tuesday, run barefoot indoors on Wednesday, then go for a long run outdoors on Thursday – all within a five-mile radius of home! I was also grateful for the plowed roads and sun-exposed bike paths.
My run started near downtown Truckee at the Community Recreation Center, where you can park for free, use the restroom, and fill your water bottle before heading out. The neighborhoods around the Rec Center have proved excellent for Winter and Spring road running in Truckee. Gray’s Crossing has very few homes and even fewer full-time residents. Further down the hill, Old Greenwood is a bit more built-out, but just as sparsely populated. I sometimes like to add some mileage by passing through Pioneer Center. The paved path doesn’t have 100% sun exposure, but you can easily hop on the road where necessary. (I also enjoy a run in Pioneer Center when I go to Stone’s Tires for that time-honored Tahoe ritual of changing out the snow tires.)
Another source of running inspiration comes from tiny elements of surprise and adventure. Gray’s Crossing is good for only about 6 miles of running on the road or paved paths with minimal elevation gain (by Tahoe standards) and light traffic. I was not looking forward to 2 to 3 laps around the same neighborhood, so it was with delight that I found the bike path down to Old Greenwood to be free of snow. I wonder if maybe it is regularly plowed, as it was completely clear, even in the tunnel under the freeway. You can find this path off Hennessy Rd, behind the apartment homes just east of the Rec Center. (Click here to see the actual route from my GPS watch.)
The path continues a short distance east-northeast along I-80 until it dips down under the freeway and into the Old Greenwood neighborhood. I don’t know the neighborhood well, so I enjoy the sense of adventure of running around on the roads with only a general heading in mind. I continue down the hill until I eventually get to the Overland Trail exit from I-80. Then a hiccup… the bike path to return to Gray’s Crossing is 6″ deep with mushy snow. I poked around for a little bit until I decide that turning around would be more pleasant and so I returned up the gentle hill the way I came. Slightly annoyed about having to turn around, I turned my attitude around by thinking about the purpose of this training run.
Next month we are going to Oregon for my Grandfather’s 100th birthday. He raised his family in the rural town of Vernonia, Oregon, about an hour outside of Portland. I have many fond (if rainy) memories of tromping through the forest which was my father’s childhood home in Vernonia. So when I found out that the Vernonia Marathon will be run the day after the big party, I was immediately compelled to add it to my event schedule. Understanding that this run is getting me in shape to enjoy 26.2 miles through the beautiful Oregon rain forest was plenty of inspiration to keep going.
Finally, I look at every step is an opportunity to practice my ChiRunning and to increase awareness of my specific body mechanics. Over the course of 3+ hours, that adds up to over 34,000 steps! I have been working on some alignment issues with the fabulous Jen Fluharty of Full Circle Movement, and the long run really gave me a chance to make some mind-muscle connections.
The next time you are out on a less-than-exciting training run, I hope that you’ll be able to draw inspiration from somewhere that can help turn the mundane into meaningful.