Recovery started with a few stretches. Then foam rolling. I drank water, graduated to my recovery drink mix of choice then went to breakfast with my parents because running 18 miles usually ends with pancakes. That’s just how roll.
I don’t always have Sunday off, but this day I did, so my long run was followed by a leisurely recovery including a long, hot shower and a nap. As I stretched myself awake on the couch mid-afternoon, I thought about how to spend the rest of my day. And without much mental effort the answer came to me — Golden Hill State Park.
When last I was here, it was February and while there was some snow it was mostly muddy and wet. I didn’t wear boots on this venture, hoping that I’d find enough dry spots. Actually, I was just going to start at Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse and walk along the Lake Ontario shoreline. That was my plan. Because gazing over the Great Lakes always brings me joy and peace.
It was a fairly mild day with temperatures around 50 but the overcast skies and breeze off the still chilly lake made it a bit of a brisk day. I parked and walked to the lighthouse the made my way along the shore. The start of the main trail looked pretty dry so I continued to walk. Absorbed in looking around me and half day-dreaming, I was brought back to the moment when someone said, “Amy!” It was the mechanic who works on my car out for a walk with his wife. We chatted for a minute then went our separate ways. This random encounter made me smile. I’m not sure why.
As I continued on the trail I heard more voices. A good number of people were at the state park today, mostly on the eastern side with the boat launch. Most of them were fishing. Some were kids, bushwhacking off the trail. One group was building a fire.
The poet Mary Oliver popped into my head at this moment. Mary Oliver would never be in the woods with groups of other people. The poet prefers solitude and the company of the trees — at least according to her work, a few interviews and her rather non-public life. I wondered if Mary Oliver always made it a point to go into the woods at times when they would be empty so she could enjoy them as she wanted to.
I like to enjoy the woods in solitude. But this was just fine, too. I liked seeing other people enjoying nature, being active, having fun. We connect with the world in different ways and they are all valid. I am not Mary Oliver. I may adore her writing and feel her sentiments, but I don’t have to be just like her to be inspired (and maybe even feel a little bit validated) by her work. We all engage wit the world in our ways, often in multiple ways and we often change the ways we engage with the world over time.
I went on to walk for some time, hitting a few wet spots along the way but nothing terribly soaking or sloppy. Spring still had her grip on the woods with everything ready to begin. My legs, which had a slight ache from the training run of the morning, felt better. This was the second phase of my recovery — a slow walk which provided my muscles and my brain and opportunity to wind down.
There was a time when I would never would have gone for a walk in the woods after a long training session. My body needed to rest, I was told. And that was fine for that period of time, because I needed to learn what my body actually needed to be active and healthy and fully engaged. I had to learn some of the science behind training and fueling to create strength and energy. Now, I let that science slip into the background, using it to inform rather than dictate. My heart knows what I need. And I’ve gotten quiet enough to listen to it amid the incessant societal chatter.
Date: Sunday, April 24, 2016
Location: Golden Hill State Park
Total distance: 2.20 miles
Elevation: 30 feet
Duration: 48 minutes
Weather: 51 degrees, mostly cloudy
Hiked with: solo