I laced up my running shoes and headed North on the Neuse River Greenway again with every intention of repeating the previous day’s feat of a marathon distance (26.2 miles).
The sun hadn’t completely risen above the tree line yet, but it was poking out enough that it would periodically blind me. I put on my sunglasses and marched on, enjoying being alone. For a time, this was my trail. No one else could claimed this little chunk of paved paradise except me. I could breathe in this chilly, slightly citified air unmolested by bike riders shouting “on your left!”, lunch joggers and slow people – all who looked at me with irritation and an undercurrent of repressed road rage.
After a mile or two of quickly hiking in this reverie, I looked to my right to see the river appear to steam. I could almost hear the sizzle as the sun rose to heat it to a steaming rolling brown soup. I felt good and I felt a smile growing. In almost a trance, immediately something large jumped away from me and the tree to my right that had been camouflaging its existence. I calmly said to the deer that was now standing on banks next to the river and looking back at me, “AHHHHHHHHHH SHIT! DON’T DO THAT!” Then I proceeded to trip over my own feet, grumbled, kicked a tree, looked around to see if anyone had witnessed my plight, then moved on.
As has become a morning routine, Murphy and the girls called me to wish me good morning, to let me know how their Monday morning was going, then once everyone was fed, dressed and ready to head to work or school, they left me to my greenway and ninja deer.
At about 10 miles, the greenway took a couple of sharp turns and I was thrust into an urban park setting with all sorts of trails and sidewalks crisscrossing over one another. I kept having to hunt for the signs leading me through the maze which made me feel (and probably look) as if I was hunting for the right grocery store aisle for peanut butter (Is it a fruit? Is it a candy? Who knows?). I wasn’t going to ask for directions!
As the morning got later, the sun grew higher and the frequency of hikers, cyclists, runners and jogging strollers increased. I was actually surprised and pleased at how many people I saw who were taking advantage of these trails as part of what seemed to be their daily routines.
I noticed that the posted speed limit on the trail was 10 MPH, and I feel confident that the road cyclists who were dressed like taller, older, less-talented (but well-dressed nonetheless) versions of Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong were often going 3 times that speed on this flat asphalt road. Truthfully, on this sort of greenway, headphone-wearing, or otherwise oblivious pedestrians could get hurt, not knowing that there were speed demons coming behind them that fast. They were slowed down only by my drunk-like wandering from side to side, which possibly wasn’t entirely unintentional. I’m not often passive-aggressive – but when I am, I like to have fun with it.
The Greenway ended after a little over 22 miles where I met up with Dean. I suggested that I’d like to change my shoes to see how my feet felt in the size 13 Altras. After the first week of the Mountains to Sea Trail run, my feet had expanded a full size larger, and so now 6 pairs of shoes were useless to me, unless I could make some of them work. I was hoping with the extra wide toe box and the reputation for being slightly larger than other running shoes, that I could wear Altra trail shoes on the days when I ran on nothing but dirt. Unfortunately, my toes curled up in the end of the shoes about 20 seconds after Dean left me to drive to the next point on the trail where it crossed over a road.
After a little over 26 total miles for the day, I limped to the waiting car and we headed back to camp for food, a shower, more food, icing of the legs, and a nap. After back-to-back marathon days, I was pooped and I could barely keep my eyes open.
Manifest good and good times. If you don’t see it, you’re not looking hard enough. Keep Moving Forward.