Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday Snapshot: Pathway to Somewhere

I've run casually off and on for much of my life but, in the past few years, running has become an integral part of who I am. I run when I'm traveling, I travel to races, I run when I'm feeling great and when I'm sulking. Running is my yoga (which I don't do, because I usually can't keep my mind quiet enough to properly appreciate it): it centers me, keeps my muscles in tune and makes me feel good, inside and out. And I like knowing that what happens on a run - where I go, how far I go, how fast I move - is up to me.

Today's photo is a pretty good representation of all of that: a path, pleasantly sunny but shaded by the trees overhead, curving off into the distance. It's empty, but comfortably so, and the curve ahead opens up endless possibilities of what lies beyond. It was taken south of Alexandria in Northern Virginia this May, just a few days before I moved to Arizona after six years in the Washington, DC area (with a year in France between years two and three).

The path is part of the Mt. Vernon Trail, which follows the Virginia side of the Potomac River from Theodore Roosevelt Island/Rosslyn all the way down to Mt. Vernon, George Washington's historic estate. I've run more than 1,000 miles on that trail, pounding out frustrations, heartache and fear or bounding along with happiness, peace or laughter in my thoughts, depending on the day. I know its turns, hills and bumps like the back of my hand, but the scenery is never quite the same from one day to the next. This particular day was beautiful - spring, just hinting at summer, with a warm wind blowing upriver.

I didn't go much further than the curve up ahead that day, but this photo perfectly captures the feel of the trail and running itself for me: a place I can go, a thing I can do, whatever my mood, that lets me clear my head and can take me somewhere familiar or somewhere new - it's up to me. Travel is like that, too. And when I get stressed out about what to pack or where to go or what I'm going to do once I get there, I can pull this image into my head and remember that whatever's around the bend, chances are, it's going to be beautiful.

9 comments:

Claudia said...

Just ran capital crescent trail this morning! :) Trail runs are so great, nice post!

Jessalyn Pinneo said...

The great running trails are among the things I miss most about DC! Thanks, Claudia. :)

283600 said...

Very nice!

Ben and Carrie Tracks said...

Path to nowhere....hmmm -- YES please!

Glad to have run across your blog from TBEX..Happy to follow :)

We're two traveling wildlife biologists new to the network as well..

Carrie and Ben
www.benandcarrietracks.blogspot.com

Jessalyn Pinneo said...

Thanks Carrie and Ben, and welcome! Your photo of a stream and the wooden bridge over it from Rocky Mountain National Park is beautiful. I can't stop taking photos of water, but I'll need more practice to get shots like that!

zablon said...

am not a fan of running but i prefer walking. walking clears my mind

Jessalyn Pinneo said...

I agree that walking can have the same effect, Zablon. Sometimes I think much more clearly if my legs are moving than if I'm just sitting at a desk.

Chuck Ball said...

I just ran the Nags Head Woods Trail this morning. October is probably the best running month here on the Outer Banks, NC. If you are out this way, check it out. Also, for a place to stay check out www.hammockcottage.com

Jessalyn Pinneo said...

I missed your comment until just now, Chuck, but thanks for the advice! The Outer Banks are on my list, but I haven't managed to get there yet. Someday!