Marlene Farrell’s Blog: Ode To The Road
Have you ever run in New York City? I don’t mean race. I mean run on the city streets and on crowded sidewalks, confronted by the masses not obliging to get out of your way, the never-ending gauntlet of sandwich boards, café tables, newsstands, hydrants and persistent saplings to be swerved and missed, making you feel like you take a step sideways for every step forward. And of course there’s the symphony (or cacophony, depending on your perspective) of sounds and smells, all vying for your attention as you enter your zone but then you have to remember to stop and look at every block to avoid getting squashed by a bus.
I ran New York’s streets on the few days prior to the marathon last November. I ran in the early morning, once I was adjusted to the time difference, and I ran at night with my friend, seeing a runner’s life through her eyes. I derived pleasure from those runs through my thrilled senses but not through my body in motion. Running in Leavenworth is about quiet and solitude (and companionship too) but the stark contrast that NYC presented made me feel all the more lucky.
Although about 75% of my running is on roads, I think I am a trail runner at heart. I like the roads, not because they’re roads, but because Leavenworth’s roads are like the trails elsewhere. In the early morning I can run down the middle of the road, and often do to avoid the camber of the shoulder. The road morphs into the widest trail imaginable. I have the views of the sky ripening in shades of pink and gold behind Boundary Butte and I enjoy encounters with creatures ranging from snowshoe hare to bear, with the dawn chorus filling my ears.
Granted, running on trails takes the experience to another level by softening my footsteps, making me feel embraced by the surrounding forest, and opportunities to see animals in their homes rather than in flight. The views from a mountaintop surpass anything at the pedestrian level. But the effort and time required to reach the mountaintop is often beyond the scope of my busy days. For those of you who ran Red Devil’s Challenge with me, perhaps you’ll agree that it would be very difficult to do a run like that day in day out.
I am content to make full use of DOT’s fancy “trails.” A friend, seeing me run midday once, asked, “Do you always run in the middle of the road?” I realized I’ve taken my privilege a bit far (though please note the answer is “No, I don’t, unless there’s near zero traffic and I’m doing a tempo run). But I am happy to run unfettered by sidewalks, traffic lights or unfriendly motorists. Leavenworth is my runner’s heaven.