Sunday, January 25, 2009

double hills to Fort de Rosemont

Back in Philly I used to study google maps to find the ideal running route, the perfect distance, for my workouts. Then one day I realized it was taking as long to map out and memorize my routes as it does to run them... and I felt I was getting distracted from my ultimate goal in running--to be healthy. Though having a good route is valuable for tracking progress and making my runs predictable, I have come to believe that my mental health is the more important reason to run. When I run regularly, my day in the office or at home goes more smoothly. I think it's when I get away from left-brain activity (logic, planning, control, predictability) that my runs do what they're supposed to do. So letting go of the maps, turning away from the watch (except as a rough gauge to tell me if it's time to turn around or not), and having a much more flexible running schedule has helped me get in touch with a more feeling side of running. In so doing, I have also begun to appreciate the exhilaration of discovering new routes, the spontaneity and freedom of being able to take a turn just because I see something interesting, and the great views.

The only problem is that at this time of year, it's always dark when I run, and it's hard to enjoy the view. I am forced to run down dimly lit, icy corridors, and I can't see past people's front yards... I can't orient myself using the hills.

Still, I try to focus on perception, feeling, imagination... the sights, the sounds, the cold wind or rain against my skin. Normally this is in the dark, but on the weekends I usually run a bit later and can often enjoy the views. Yesterday I decided take a shot at something that I thought may be a bit out of my range. It's the next big hill around here I haven't conquered, Fort de Rosemont. It may be the tallest one... anyway, I didn't know exactly how to get there ('cause maps ruin the fun) but when we were at le Petit Fort de Chaudanne last weekend I noticed a sign that pointed to this next fort, so I figured that would be a decent way to go... up and down one big hill, then up another! I got to the top of Chaudanne in about 30 minutes. At the bottom I got lost. The sign seemed to indicate I could just go straight on through, but the road forked and I didn't know which way to go. I veered onto the road that seemed to be a switchback, only to find out 10 minutes later that it was a dead end. My current range is 45 minutes (if I run more than 90 minutes I'll get hurt). So I'm on a dead end to the end of my range... but decide to go on anyway since a turn-around would surely use the rest of my range, and maybe this road will bump into a trail. Well, the road turns into a dirt road in between paddocks, and I can't tell if it's private property or not... soon I'm under tree cover and it's a footpath. I'm waiting for a dog to come barking, but so far I see no lights or any sign of inhabitation. So I continue on to finally hit an official trail to the fort. Hooray! I got to the top of the hill before sunrise, and got some amazing views. It's funny, seems like this is a fort built to protect little Chaudanne, to protect big Chaudanne, to protect the citadel... I guess they didn't have a lot of confidence in whether this works or not... um, looks like arms races don't work in any century!

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