Taking it Up a Notch

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So, I’ve posted before about my extremely directionally challenged brain. I still get confused in some parts of my hometown, and although I improved my navigation skills in Fayetteville I was not even up to giving someone else directions to my house by the time we moved (we lived there three years).

Whats the best place for someone directionally challenged to be? How about in the middle of an indifferently marked trail system in a bunch of mountains! My friend Kasia personally experience my lack of directional sense when I managed to get confused on the 5 mile hike at Raven Rock, the trails at Liberty are more numerous and more complicated…and I’m running a 5k tomorrow!

To illustrate, again, just  how easy it is to utterly confuse my sense of direction, Brian and I have been running the trails on Liberty Mountain, the Bald Spot, and surrounding mountains since…2007? Somewhere around there. We didn’t just run them occasionally, we put in 30-60 miles a WEEK on those trails. We ran those trails before Liberty decided to name them and put up a map, half of them were deer trails, the others barely maintained footpaths designed by sadistic running enthusiast Dr. Horton who tortured his running class on them daily. Brian discovered the trails through taking Horton’s class, and enthusiastically shared the “fun” with me. I had nicknames for some of the roads and trails and was appropriately disgruntled when Liberty gave them new, boring names like “Frontage Road” instead of “Fever Road” but noone thought to ask me so they’re just stuck with the lousy names.

In the three years we were in NC, Liberty put up a “Snowplex” (where you can ski and snowboard on white carpet every season except winter), added several parking lots, new dorms, a soccer field….and in the process destroyed a lot of the original trails and trees. Some remain (thank goodness) but all the new “stuff” had me COMPLETELY disoriented. I’m running a 5k tomorrow starting at Lake Hydaway (the place where Brian and I decided to run to, jump into a semi frozen lake mid February, and run back to campus to get into the indoor pool and warm up). I just figured out, JUST figured out, that the Snowplex is built on the mountain that has the Bald Spot. It took Brian one look at the Snowplex to get his bearings on where all the trails now began and ended (months ago, I might add). It has taken me months to figure out ONE ROAD. Namely, the road I’m going to be running tomorrow from Camp Hydaway. It finally made sense to me, today, picking up my race packet and staring directly at the road (which has been newely graveled and wraps around the side of the snowplex which used to be trees) that THAT was the road to camp Hydaway that Brian and I had run so many times. The road on the map they have labled as “Hydaway Road” is actually the road/trail I faceplanted on and it’s entrance is yards away from this one.

The thing is, it’s only one road. I have to completely re-learn all the trails again because I can’t just superimpose the “new stuff” on my map of the trail system in my head. Mostly because my understanding of the trails is based on visual cues and memories (Fever Road-ran it in 98* weather with a fever of 103 due to an overdose of Strattera, Rainbow Road-red clay, sparkly multi colored rocks in a series of “rolling” hills that were evil) some I didn’t even have names for, I remembered them by events-the trail that starts behind the monogram where the sunrises in the winter look like pink ice through the trees, the “other” road to Hydaway where I faceplanted tripping over a rock, the “lower dam trail” (one of the earliest trails Liberty bothered to name) that dipped into a valley (now soccer field) and never seemed to end but was the best place to startle deer.

The 5k is a simple out and back starting at Hydaway and staying on one road. My prayer before the race tomorrow is going to be: “God, thanks for giving Brian and I the health and ability to run, watch over all the runners here today, and PLEASE don’t let me get lost!”

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