Posted by: Karen | September 8, 2006

Suburban Trail Training

Last night after dinner I got out for my last run before tomorrow’s Moose Mountain race. I even remembered to dig out my trail shoes that I haven’t worn since last spring’s XC series was over. I’ve trained off and on in some parks between the pavement this summer, but mostly I’ve been running in my road shoes.

I needed some off-road training, but didn’t want to run deep into a park on my own, so I improvised. I ran beside the sidewalks on the grassy boulevards. Our deciduous trees are starting to lose their leaves, so I crunched along, finding as many leaves as I could.

I hadn’t planned on bringing thoughts of Liz on this run, but she’s on my mind a lot these days. Running through the dead leaves reminded me about how radiation kills off cells. I was sad about how Liz must feel to have so many good cells killed off with her cancer ones. I wondered if trees mind when they lose their leaves. I thought about Liz’s cancer cells dying off and being carried out of her body as she rests and recovers. I rejoiced in crunching as many “dead cancer leaves” as I could. I envisioned Liz eventually getting better, like a dormant tree budding out in spring.

My grassy boulevards have trees planted along them, so instead of whining about how they were in the way, I had a great idea – slalom! Zig-zagging between the trees narrowed my focus – I had to really think about where my next few steps were going. I found myself picking up my feet more, to avoid tripping on any branches hidden beneath fallen leaves. Before I knew it I was running out of trees.

I altered my usual route to head up and over some local sledding hills, ran through one hilly dog-park and ended up in a second hilly one. I saw some folks lurking on the eastern summit and ran all the way up to the top, to find that the moon hadn’t risen yet. One guy had a big camera and was hoping that the forest fire smoke clouding our atmosphere lately hadn’t obscured it altogether. Last night the moon had risen glowing a bright red. I wished him well and bounded down the other side, happy as the dogs in the doggy park.

On the way back home I found myself at the bottom of the same grassy boulevard I’d slalomed down. Usually I walk up this hill, because I’m close to done and I’m tired. This time I said to myself, “Just zig-zag between 5 trees, and then you can walk”. One-two-three-four-five. Hey, that was fun. I bet in Liz’s radiation session last month she was counting down the treatments, though. So I did 5 more, counting backwards. Heck, now I was half way up the hill and having fun again, so I did it again, 5 trees at a time until we were at the top and only two flat paved blocks between me and home.

This suburban trail play was way more fun than pounding pavement. I was breathing hard and swinging my arms and having a blast. I’m going to do it again sometime.



  1. Excellent analogy on those cancer cells. I’m new to this penguin group but I’m sure Liz will be happy you are thinking of her. All positive thoughts will help. Good luck in your run tomorrow – I think the weather should be great for you.

  2. What a great run! Liz will appreciate the positive imagery. You should send it to her site. Good luck on your race.

  3. What a great strategy, physically and mentally, to make due with what you have in a city or suburban setting.

  4. Good luck in the race, Karen. If good karma makes you run faster, then you’ll be a speed demon.


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