It turned out to be a sunny Sunday with the neighbour's outdoor thermometer indicated a crisp-but-tolerable setting on the plus side of zero, so I settled into my one day off for the week. With the holidays hitting full stride the studio will be open Sundays, leaving this as the last day to ourselves for a little while.
The day before I read a post by a fellow Saint John blogger about cold weather running and it reminded me that I hadn't been to my favourite route in a long time. Around noon I hopped in the car (the irony of driving somewhere to go for a run isn't lost on me) and headed to the Irving Nature Park.
Cresting the hill before the park, I could see that I wasn't the only one with this idea as the parking lot was more full than most summer days. With the exception of the the immediate dirt after the end of the pavement, the road was smoother than many Saint John streets.
I backed into an empty space, got out, breathed in the cool air, hit play on my shuffle and started up the steep hill that begins my clockwise trail through this gem.
After finally reaching the initial summit (I used to love hill-running) I kept a slow, steady pace and waited for the pounding in my chest to lighten. My first realization was that I forgot to bring my gloves. I knew I would regret that. Even pushing up the hill, I thought about how, despite not getting out for many runs the past couple months, good I felt and considered the possibility of surpassing the 6.5 km that marked a single circuit.
There were crows, lots of chickadees, and dogs - even an unattended medium sized canine on the edge of the forest barking at something toward the upper reaches of an evergreen. And there was no shortage of people.
Settling into a quiet stride I became conscious to the fact that my creative thoughts were in overdrive. Without the distractions of business and home, my self began the automatic focus on the increased physical stresses leaving the creative part of my brain free to explore - and the results of this exploration were producing at an exceptional rate. I wanted to stop and write. I yearned for something I could record these meanderings into for later.
Rounding a bend, there was a secondary path branching to the right that I couldn't remember. I then became aware that I had lost familiarity with the trail and couldn't even properly gauge my geographical orientation, I tried to recall when my last run at the nature park took place. Maybe early summer? It had been too long.
I knew I hadn't reached the wooden bridge that marked the approximate half-way mark yet and I was already feeling the negative effects of my lack of training. Those early thoughts of exceeding my distance goals had been trashed. I kept an eye open for one of the wood mile markers (kilometer marker just doesn't sound right) and upon seeing "4 km" and realizing that simple math was becoming more difficult, I knew I would now just have to be happy with completing the loop.
In the last half kilometer I saw my first ground critter - a grey squirrel that bounded away from the roadway at that slow grey squirrel pace that I know I will never become used to after being around red squirrels only for most of my life.
Passing the last marker, I slowed to a walk and began my cool down, then stretching before heading back home for fronch toast with Holly. These are Sundays that are truly priceless.