I took a run by myself on the riverfront trails yesterday. It was the definition of a 'blustery day.' Wind, normally redirected and tamed as it passes through dense foliage, instead ripped between trees and vines denuded of their leaves. It was a truly odd experience to be on the trails for the first time in the season without the canopy.
The openness allows for a heightened awareness of 'where you are' on the trail at all times. You can also see the trail heading in the opposite direction during much of the run - something which is not apparent in other seasons. One of the neatest things I noted was a very long and very solid old iron staircase that headed down from the trail to the river's edge at .92 mi. I stopped and, after testing it for structural integrity, took it down to the banks. I can't think of another time that I ever did that. It was beautiful, and worth the interruption to my run. As I ascended a few minutes later, I couldn't help but wonder how the stairwell came to be place there. It is not a temporary structure. t is solid and comes to rest at its upper end a foot or two above the ground. Because there is no sign of any development around it, the stairs must have led up to a wooden landing that has long since decayed and left no footprint. I have been thinking about it off and on since finding it. It has crossed my mind that it could be part of the old North Lawrence park/fair grounds that went along the river in the late 1800's. I'm going to ask around, and let you know when I do.
Continuing on with the no-leaves theme; the run also reminded me (as it does every year) just how many incredible trees we have along the river. Their scale is really enormous for this region of the country. In other months, I never notice the trees because they are covered. The greenery they carry somehow diminishes the majesty of their scale. And the vines and volunteer plants that hang off of and between the giants are impressive in their own right. I spent a lot of the run simply looking upward (not a recommended way to run on technical trails - which this isn't) and observing the intricacies of the superstructure that underlies the three-season greenery. Quite impressive.
In swimming - yes, dear readers, I said swimming - I had a bit of a breakthrough week. My coach had been working to get me to do unilateral breathing on my dominant (right) side. I have always been a unilateral breather on my left side. And while I could swim decently that way (without too much post-swim dizziness), breathing on my dominant side was causing me to cough and sputter. I was quickly doubting whether I'd be able to actually pull this swimming-thing off. But at the end of a session last week, my coach mentioned bilateral breathing. She said that most triathletes swim using that technique. It is a little harder, but that I might be able to get used to it once I had unilateral breathing down. Just for kicks she had me try it. What happened next was amazing. I took to it as a cat laps milk (that's Shakespeare, people. No kidding). For me it was the most intuitive way I could possibly imagine swimming. My coach seemed a bit shocked and very pleased.
So, now I have my post-surgery stroke down (that sounds either really obscene or medically bad - too many meanings for one simple word). I hope to be able to emerge from the pool in a few months ready to take on a triathlon of some real proportion at that time. For me, finding the optimal way to breathe was the key to becoming comfortable in the pool. I hate doing anything I care about in a half-hearted manner. So achieving this breakthrough ticked off a step toward a major goal for the Winter.
Move Rec: If A Tree Falls - incredible documentary about the human spirit and a commentary on the limits (right or wrong) of protest.