I did not want to run on Saturday. I did not want to run or hike or even walk very far. I was tired and I still felt a bit sick from the illness of the previous weekend. My lungs felt tight, and I was worried, even though I just had a wellness appointment on Wednesday and the doc had nothing to say about the state of my lungs. 

Since it was a payday, my husband and I went shopping on Saturday morning. I could have gotten up early to do my run, but, as stated above, I really didn’t want to do it. So, I slept in a bit, and we got breakfast and then went shopping. And then we were back home again and it was time to do the run. 

I felt obligated to do it, because I’d promised myself that this off-season, I would hike at least once a month, and this was the last day of October. I had to do it. No matter how much I really didn’t want to. 

The weather was actually lovely; I started out wearing a windbreaker but didn’t really need it in short order. I started my journey by running (slowly) down my street and over to the Greenbelt. Then to the Municipal Golf Course, where I did what I’d typically do and ran to the parking lot by way of the putting green. 

But I found that in the time since I’d last run this route (and it had been quite a while), the whole parking lot had been redone. Instead of a place to cross the street, I found a fence. I thought about jumping it, and decided to find the new route, which does connect to the Greenbelt directly (that explains the looks I got for running by the putting green). 

I crossed the street and made my way to the trail that would take me up to Table Rock. This isn’t the more commonly used trail, but I knew I’d see some people on it, because there were bikes parked at the trailhead and even an escooter. Still, it wouldn’t be as crowded as the Greenbelt, so I tugged my buff down and got a drink of water while I started the uphill portion. 

I slowed to a walk for much of the climb, and I stopped and stepped off the trail to let maskless people go by (I would have done the same for people wearing masks; I just didn’t see that many of those). I know some of them saw how easy it was for me to pop my mask into place as we came into proximity; I hope some of them choose to do that in the future. 

The thought of turning back early tempted me when I got to a place where I’ve done turnarounds before – we call it The Spike, where the trail reaches a plateau – but I kept on going even though I felt pretty horrible. My heart was pounding and my breathing didn’t feel full. 

On the plateau, I ran a bit, but mostly walked. And when it came to the approach to Table Rock, aka The Ramp, I didn’t try to jog anymore, but just walked without stopping. One foot in front of the other. Ignore the pounding, ignore the pain, just breathe. 

And I realized that I was constricting my own breathing. I had been so anxious and worried, that I was not letting myself breathe fully. I rolled my shoulders back and took a deep breath. And from that point on, I didn’t feel that tightness in my chest. If I hadn’t gone on this run, pushed myself to where I could feel where that anxiety was affecting my breathing, I might not have figured it out. I needed this run, and I’m so glad I went, especially because I didn’t want to.

It was still a hard hike. Table Rock is steep. But I got to the top, and when I came down, I started jogging it. Downhill running can be nerve-wracking, but it also takes a good deal of focus and concentration. By focusing on my foot placement, I found myself going down at a decently fast pace. I kept it up as I turned toward the Rock Island trail to make my way back down, but I got cocky. 

See, I’d made it that far without a stumble, so I allowed myself to get distracted by the sight of a guy standing off the trail at a fence with his dog. Naturally, a rock caught my right foot, pitching my body forward. 

I’ve only fallen on my face on the trails a couple of times over the years. This was not one of those times. No, this was one of the more frequent times when I stumble, pitch forward, crank my abs and keep running. Good thing I remembered how to do that, because I had to use it two more times before I made it back to the pavement. 

I thought I’d run the whole way home once I reached pavement, but my body had other ideas. My IT band on the right side was painful, and my muscles overall were feeling quite overused. Probably something to do with this being the first serious exercise I’d done in over a week. Sure, I did a mile on Tuesday and almost 1.5 miles on Thursday. Both of those were on flats. The Table Rock route I do is over 7 miles. 

So I walked a good deal on the Greenbelt. I ran some, usually picking a spot where I’d start running, and then picking a spot to stop. But I walked a lot. Fast walking though. And I pulled my mask up when I saw people coming. 

It really was a beautiful day to be outside though. 

Some beautiful blue autumn sky in the background.

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