Press on?

Today I’m giving myself a gold star for pressing on in less than ideal weather conditions.

But first, a small confession: Today’s walk was not on the Bay Area Ridge Trail, but rather was a training walk on a paved multi-use trail (the Stevens Creek Trail in Mountain View). The backdrop is that I’m training to walk a marathon, my first, in early June. I have set out a training plan that includes several components, such as speed, strength, endurance, and technique, and I try to cover most of these components each week. Every weekend I do a so-called long walk, alternating longer and shorter walks and gradually building up the distance and time. This week’s plan called for a “short” long walk, and I was planning to cover 10-12 miles.

The hitch was that the weather report claimed a 70% chance of rain today and a 90% chance tomorrow. Plus the detailed report looked more like rain all day today but more intense rain all day tomorrow. I am kind of a fair-weather hiker/walker but I really wanted to get my training walk in during the weekend. Today clearly seemed like the preferred day. So when I noticed that the predicted radar map on weather.com indicated a “bubble” of no rain passing through for an hour-plus, I decided I would go out when the bubble arrived. This worked out pretty well, actually. The rain didn’t fully stop but it wasn’t too intense either. I wore two rain jackets (and yes, the inner jacket also got wet from the outside). But because I was well-prepared for the weather conditions the amount I got wet was acceptable.

I also improvised on my itinerary, in case the rain got more intense than I wanted to deal with, so that I could bail out early. Usually I plan a simple out-and-back itinerary, but I decided that I didn’t want to be farther than about a half hour from my dry, warm home base. So I went first to a turnaround point I use for shorter training walks, then part way back, and then basically went back and forth between these same two mileage markers an additional 3 round trips (2.5 miles each round trip) and then back home. It was certainly not adventurous in terms of the territory or scenery, but I completed 11.4 miles.

Typically when I’m on a hike or long training walk, I have plenty of time for musing about whatever subject comes to mind. Today, the strategy of staying within 2 miles or so of home was intended to let me cover as much distance as I wished – I decided before I started that the 11.4 miles was my goal, if the weather cooperated – while having an easy exit strategy. If it started raining hard, I’d simply turn around at the next marker (they’re at ¼ mile intervals) or head home if I was on a return leg. Since I was constantly evaluating the weather and updating my decision to keep going, I paid more attention to the exact location of the markers.

For part of the section I walked today, the markers have just been installed within the last couple of months, and this is very convenient. Of course, I’ve passed the markers going both directions, so I’ve seen all of them both on my left and on my right. I don’t consider myself to be dyslexic, but I noticed after the first couple of back-and-forth passes that I couldn’t be sure which side of the trail each one was on, and that bothered me. So I paid special attention to the location of the 6 markers that I was passing today. Sure enough, they are all actually on the same side of the trail: on the right for someone starting at the edge of the Bay (north end of the trail). I was pretty amused that I hadn’t noticed before today that they are on the same side of the trail.

I consider this to be just a little reminder to be aware, even of something as mundane as the location of mileage markers – it’s yet another way to be present in the moment when I’m out walking, enjoying the out-of-doors, even if I’m on a trail I’ve walked numerous times before.

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