The other day I went for a run (some walking) at a trail network in town called Normanskill Ravine. True to its name, the single-track trail is steep. It doesn’t just go down into one ravine, but leads through a series of drops and climbs and switchbacks that lead you to the Normanskill, where you run flat along the creek for a while before looping back through long ascents and descents. Three miles in total, with enough trail markers so you don’t get lost. It was right in town but it felt like the wilderness in these deep ravines.
I went back today.
All was going well, with many sections familiar from my previous run. I went down once when I slipped in a muddy spot, but got up quickly. I’d been thinking of something else—that’s one of the benefits of solo runs, getting in the mindset to toss around ideas—but a trail like this you have to pay attention.
It wasn’t until I’d circled all the way back down to the stream level that I discovered I’d missed an important turn. There I was thinking of something else again. I was immediately disheartened. I didn’t know if I should turn around and backtrack or keep going. I’d just come down a long, steep descent. The idea of turning around was awful, plus I wasn’t sure I could backtrack effectively. The trail was marked in one direction only. I kept going, realizing I had to repeat a long loop.
At first I refused to run. I walked as if in protest of my fate. I was tired. My legs were sore. I was mad for missing the turn. Now I had to go a lot farther than planned. Maybe it would have been shorter if I had turned around.
But I’d been thinking of something else.
Eventually I settled myself and started to run again, slowly. I grudgingly began to feel grateful to be out here on this sunny, chilly day. To be able to navigate these trails at all. To have this time and this natural beauty around me. You could say I began giving thanks.
A three-mile run turned into 4.5. I walked in a lot of places. When I eventually got back, everyone was home. Julia asked me how my run was. I said, “Mistakes were made.” I told them how I’d been daydreaming and missed my turn and had to run so much farther. Owen gave one of his laughs. Harriet slid me a knowing look. All was well and I gave thanks.