Like most people who exercise outside on a regular basis, I have standard routes. I'm beginning to learn the nuances of these routes, such as which off-camber corners force me to apply my bike's brakes, and which ones I can really let rip. I know which rocks to hopscotch on my usual eight-mile run and where to look out for deer. Standard routes are comfortable, convenient, and help boost me through tough days with their familiar challenges. They provide a great base for training, because I can compare times and how I felt and how I improved. Still, I find myself craving something different. Even if it means venturing just a few miles off that beaten path, to places where I have to brake on all the corners or purposefully operate below maximum effort because I have no idea where the hill I'm climbing ends.
Beat and I have been trying out new running routes. My recent run-loading has made it tougher to digest the idea of a daily trips to Rancho, so we've been testing out lesser-known home trails with encouraging results. On Monday, we finally connected the "Steven's Reservoir Loop," a quiet 6.2-mile jaunt up the crest of Coyote Ridge, down a winding piece of delicious singletrack and along the steep shoreline of the reservoir. Rocky cliffs, golden light and turquoise water — like a little piece of Hawaii close to home.
Today Beat was going to rest to try to stave off his cold, but then it rained. I mean, it really rained. The temperature dropped to 58 degrees and gray mist tumbled down the canyons. On the way to the post office, I heard a host on the radio complaining about taking out her rain jacket "for the seventh time since March." She said it without a hint of irony. I knew this signaled a rare summer event indeed. When I returned home Beat was just as thrilled as I was about the rain. We decided to take our evening run to the rainforest, otherwise known as Windy Hill.
The trails were mired in a strange combination of mud — sometimes slimy and slick, other times shoe-grabbing sludge, and still others as solid as concrete, but all basically the same texture and color and all unpredictable. It made for really challenging running — more about survival than a solid workout. But the landscape reminded me of Southeast Alaska in the summer, and this made me feel blissfully content.
Who says you can't have a little outdoor adventure in metro California?
Sure, I move slower through the unknowns, and yes, it is more risky to go trail running in the rain. But really, the ability to explore the greater outdoors is the entire reason for fitness, at least in my own personal application of fitness. Sometimes that means an enjoyable interaction with the familiar, and other times it's a blind leap to something surprising and new. But in every case it's what I enjoy most about day-to-day life, these little adventures.