Every week I post a #throwbackthursday story here on the blog, where I time travel just a little bit and talk about something that happened to me back in the day. It could be something from earlier in the year, or something from my early years. You can see all my #throwbackthursday posts by clicking on that hash tag.
The first time I ran five miles at one shot was also the first time I ran around Cooper River in Pennsauken, NJ. The section of river that is most used by runners and cyclists and the average joe walking their dog or playing with their kids has a path looping around it about 3.8 miles around.
One end of the oblong loop has the Philadelphia skyline in the distance. There is parking on various spots, but the best place is the far side that has a park and gravel running track. So I parked there and made my way around the river.
Since it was my first time running around this river, and I am pretty sure it was my first time even exploring the river, I took my camera with me. The 3.8 mile loop was pretty intimidating since my longest run was 3 miles and I had only done that a couple of times before. But telling myself this was a real easy run with opportunities to stop and take pictures put me at ease.
I ran easy. I stopped for pictures. I explored the area around the river. And slowly I made my way back to the parking lot next to that gravel running track. But when I got back something felt weird to me. I actually felt good after that run.
I looked over at that track and it was calling me. I had never run on a track before, and this was definitely not what I pictured. This was gravel that had been stamped down from people running and walking on it. There were no lane markings and in some spots sprouts of grass were poking through at the edges. But I was pulled to it anyway.
Even though it was early in my running I had already bought a Garmin running watch. I looked at my distance, saw that it was almost at 4 miles, and decided to circle the track until it reached 4.
And then I kept circling. When the watch beeped to alert me of my 5 mile split I looked down and was amazed. It was only 2 miles more than I had ever ran at one time, but it felt fantastic. My head was clear, my legs felt worn but good, and my entire body felt lighter.
I did not realize it at the time, but looking back I have learned a couple of lessons from this run. Sometimes you just have to run easy and enjoy your surroundings. And sometimes you just have to run and see what your body will do for you that day.
The rest of the pictures I took that day may be lost in a series of digital files somewhere. I might be able to find them if I try, but I doubt it. (I was actually surprised that I found the picture of the track. It was still up on a little blog I used to write when I first started running) But that doesn’t matter because the images in my memory of that run are far more important than the photographic evidence of what the river looked like that day.
EDIT: I actually DID find the pictures! Come to find out I posted them in an album on Flickr. I forgot I even had a Flickr account back in the day. Anyway, click here if you want to see those pictures of Cooper River Park.
When was a time that your run made you feel something new or something special about yourself? When have you used running to just explore? Tell me in the comments.