Today marks the end of summer for me, and it was a great one. I spent 5 glorious weeks as a camp chaplain and then…didn’t really do much. I thrive on a routine, and my post-camp routine basically consisted of running, blogging, and watching Mad Men/Friday Night Lights/Netflix Instant Stream show-of-choice. But now I’m starting a year-long chaplaincy residency. And in a few weeks, I’ll also start as a deacon/youth minister. And wave good-bye to unscheduled runs and lots of free time. So, for my last weekend, Joe and I decided that we needed to do something awesome. At least, we needed to do something awesome after getting the kitties vaccinated and my teeth cleaned. Like canoeing!
Canoeing is totally cross-training. My back and shoulders and forearms are killing me after 9 miles on the Harpeth River. We had a great time just enjoying the beautiful low-humidity weather and the scenery. Running skirts, appropriate for way more than running.
Due to the canoeing (and the late night traditional Russian dinner at our friends’ house on Friday night), I shifted my long run to Sunday even though it meant I would have to go it alone. 10 miles by myself in time to get back home for church. Going to bed early was not a problem since I was tuckered out from sun and paddling, so I woke up two minutes before my alarm went off and headed to the stone gates at Percy Warner Park, one of Nashville’s greatest assets.
PWP is like a giant playground for adults. Hiking trails, horse-riding trails, and miles and miles of paved road with practically no cars. Even on the hottest summer days, PWP is cool and shady. As evidenced in the picture above, it’s a popular meeting spot for running groups and cycling groups and just people out to walk their dogs. So what keeps me running there every day? The massively brutal hills.
I ran miles 1-4 on the flattish road leading up to the park and then entered the park, where I immediately started climbing. Those first climbs are not the worst of it though. You see how from mile 7-8 it’s pretty much all uphill? That’s the infamous 3-mile hill, a hill that has you thinking that surely it will flatten out just beyond this next curve, but it keeps going onward and upward. Another one of my goals is to make it up 3-mile hill without walking. I thought it might happen today, but with 7 miles already under my fuel belt, my legs weren’t feeling it.
Running in Percy Warner is like my personal version of the Presidential Fitness Test we had to do in elementary school. It serves as a benchmark to test my strength and mental fortitude. And today, I passed with flying colors. I felt better on this run than I’ve felt on a long run in a while, and I did it all by myself without any company. My pace wasn’t half-bad considering the hills either. I got home with plenty of time to eat some pancakes and get ready for church.
Thus ends my long summer. I’m looking forward to getting back into a routine, even if it means early, early morning runs!