Monday, October 24, 2011

Embracing The Empty Miles

Force of habit caused me to reach for my watch and just as I was about to put it on, I thought Oh wait, that's not the point of today's outing.   Today was going to be my first attempt at empty miling.  I was going to run without a plan.  That's a big deal for a planner like me.

I was at the tail end of a head cold but the day was far too beautiful to spend sitting inside with a box of tissues so I broke out my hot pink Saucony's and hit the road.   I subconsciously reached my hand over to start my watch and looked down to realize that I hadn't put it on.  Riiight.  Ok.  Time to run.

I stood at the bottom of the walkway to our apartment and weighed my options.  I looked left down the road.  Don't want to go too far as I'm coming off of a cold.  I looked right, up the road.  Gotta stop at the bank to use the ATM.  Practicality won out and I turned right and made my way up the road towards Bloor West Village.  Gotta say, despite the week layoff and the remnants of a cold, I felt really good.  My right hamstring felt a bit tight but other than that the legs felt great.  I turn north to go up to Bloor and I hit my first light.  My hand traveled over to my wrist once again.  Wow, I can't believe how much I rely on my watch.  How much it is a part of me when I run.  Crazy.

I crossed Bloor and headed east towards the bank.  I was cooking along feeling great.  I get to the bank, take out my money and head back out the door.  Which way to go now?  I decide to head east again to Runnymede.  I turn south onto Runnymede and meander my way through side streets until I hit the Queensway and the path at the bottom of High Park.  I figured the park was going to be a busy place given that the weather was so stellar but that was ok by me.  A little stop and go never hurt anyone.  I turn into the park and I'm on auto pilot.  I've run in here so much I know all the paved paths like the back of my hand.  I come out into the playground area near the zoo.  Hmmmmmm...

Fall Foliage
copyright Phaedra Kennedy 2011
A red tree catches my eye and I turn in the direction of the zoo.  I run towards the tree and marvel at the redness of the leaves against the blue sky.  I take out my phone so I can take a picture.  So *this* is what it's all about.  Old habits die hard as I once again go to "start" my watch as I start running.  I chuckle to myself as I run by kids checking out the llamas and water buffalo.  Silly me.  I run up through the zoo and immediately turn right to head down Centre Road to another path at the east end of the park.  It's gotten warm so I roll up my sleeves, my left wrist feeling particularly naked.  No matter. 

Blue & Yellow
copyright Phaedra Kennedy 2011
I run along Spring Road at what feels like a really good clip and I catch myself turning my left wrist to take a look at my pace.  Ha ha ha ha...seriously?  I am grinning like an idiot at this point.  Whatever.  I am stopped in my tracks by a strikingly bright yellow tree against the crystal blue sky.  Out came the camera again.  Days like this are why I love fall.  I keep making my way along Spring Road until I get to the bottom of the Hill.  It's the puke inducing hill repeat hill.  The nasty bugger that appears at the end Harry's Spring Run off.  Whatever.  I'm only going up it once.  I start the ascent only to see this crazy sculpture out of the corner of my eye.  It's in a clearing just off of a trail.  I'm in.  No hesitation.  The hill can wait.

copyright Phaedra Kennedy 2011
I leapt on to the dirt path and stopped just in front of this sculpture.  The way the light was coming through the trees was amazing.  My iphone didn't do it justice.  Oh well.   I head into the forest.  I've never run on this path before.  Sweet.   It's a busy place.  Lots of walkers, some with dogs some without, all moving at a very leisurely pace.  That's cool.  I'm in no rush.  

As I run along watching the ground for roots and rocks, I marvel at the brightness of my pink shoes against the dark dirt of the trail.    For some reason this makes me smile.  I run through the mud and into the clearing where the community vegetable gardens are.  It too is a very busy place.  Urban gardeners are out in full force getting their gardens ready for the impending winter.  I meander through here some more, dodging a few overly excited dogs and I gradually make my way back to the upper loop of the park.  I am tempted to take another path that I spot just before I reach the main road, but I've been out for a while so I figure I'll leave that for next time.

I come back to the main road and chug along until I approach Bloor Street.  In my peripheral vision I spot a group of people dressed in period costume.  Really?  What the hell?  I stop for a bit to watch them and contemplate taking a picture.  That would have meant walking closer and I didn't really want to appear like I was gawking (which I clearly was).  So, I watched for a bit from a distance and then decided to continue my journey back home.

I ran west along Bloor Street, dodging pedestrians as I went.  Somewhere along that stretch I thought Ohhh a pumkpin spice latte would be the perfect way to cap this run off.    A few minutes later I made the detour into Starbucks.   A few more minutes later I was back out the door into the autumn sunshine with my warm beverage.  I ran / walked the rest of the way home, savouring the crisp air and glorious sunshine.  I stopped at the same light I stopped at on my way out.  This time my hand didn't wander, my wrist didn't even turn.  I waited with a satisfied smile.  What a perfect afternoon.   I could get used to this.

Lose the watch and love the miles.  
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