LANSING, Mich. — This morning’s mission in unfamiliar territory 500 miles from home: fit in a 10-mile run without getting hopelessly lost.
I don’t own a smart phone or a Garmin. I don’t believe in Map My Run. I have a basic watch that came free with my Runner’s World subscription.
So I set off with a crude, hand-drawn map, a small bottle of water and some Clif Bloks energy chews.
I also brought my very basic Tracfone, just in case . . . and I told my girlfriend’s mom, whom we’re visiting, not to worry unless I didn’t return in 90 minutes. And off I went after — full disclosure alert — consulting google maps on an iPad and sketching out a route.
I ended up having one of the best 10-mile solo runs I’ve had in years.
I found well-kept parks with dirt trails to run on (Thank you, Delta Township) . . . The morning was warm and sunny, not humid . . . I came across other happy runners and walkers, heard new kinds of birdsong, saw different kinds of trees. Even the air smelled different. Maybe this is what they mean by the “Pure Michigan” slogan.
As a bonus, the asphalt roads I ran on had soft stone and dirt shoulders to ease the burden on the legs and feet (yes, time wounds all heels). I didn’t get lost, although I made a wrong turn or two but realized it almost immediately and turned around.
I’ve always believed the best way to discover a place is to set out on foot, at whatever speed, and just explore with eyes wide open and all the senses on high alert.
It worked wonders this time, in part because I’m on vacation with a special person and we got away from the daily grind. That alone can do wonders for the psyche.
This, I realize, is a sound retirement plan — travel, be with great people and explore new places, soaking in as much living as possible. And if I can still run while I’m doing it, without getting lost, all the better.