Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy diversions

Today's "long run" lesson was that unexpected diversions sometimes lead to happier outcomes than you expect.

The lesson began when I set off from my apartment intent on running across the MacDonald Bridge (the older of the two bridges joining Halifax and Dartmouth) to Point Pleasant Park in the city's south end.  When I reached the bridge, I was disappointed to discover the pedestrian lane was closed due to high winds which were peaking at 100 km/hr. I had two options: Stand around in the cold wind waiting for a shuttle bus to take me to the Halifax side or strike off in some other direction. I chose the latter, and turned to run westward towards Shubie Park (a favourite destination).  As I churned up the long hill from the bridge to the highway that leads to the park, I realized that the first happy thing about this diversion was that I had an unexpected opportunity to squeeze in some serious hill training -- which is bound to come in handy when I run Hamilton's Around the Bay 30 km race in late March.

Unfortunately, more diversions lay ahead.
My plan had been to run along the shoulder of the highway to the park's north entrance, through the park, then back to the city along the Waverley Road - but I hadn't counted on the massive piles of snow and ice lining the shoulders of the highway leaving too little room to run safely. Gritting my teeth, I soldiered on for a time, but the cars and trucks barrelling by at close range soon persuaded me to reconsider my plan before I found myself splattered across somebody's windshield. 

Frustrated, I retraced my steps to the nearest cross street, and headed downhill towards Lake Banook. Given the deep layers of snow everywhere else and the fact that many sidewalks in my neighbourhood remained unplowed, I expected to have to slog through at least a foot of the heavy, wet, white stuff to reach the sidewalk on the lake's far side.  To my delight, I found instead that the walking path around the lake had been completely cleared (thank you, HRM!) so I was able to run easily to my destination - a very good thing since I was starting to feel tired by then (no doubt, in part due to a little too much red wine and limoncello last night when hubbie and I celebrated our 24th "first date" anniversary at a charming Italian restaurant.)

Stilll, as I headed homeward, I was disappointed that my planned 18km long run had been reduced to a mere 12km by all the diversions - though, as I quickly reminded myself, running the shorter distance meant I would have an extra half hour with hubbie - another very happy thing.

Of course, it's easy to draw analogies between today's run and how life unfolds sometimes.  More than once I've found myself on paths I didn't intend to be on, taking risks I didn't intend to take, feeling upset and frustrated that things weren't going the way I wanted them to. But, then, when I least expected it, good things started to happen. I was offered opportunities to grow in ways I needed to, new paths opened up, and I found myself with more time and energy for the people and things I cared about most. And, when the good things started to happen, it felt like someone or something was looking out for me, guiding me back to the path I should have been on all along.

To be honest, I'm still a little disappointed I didn't make it to Shubie Park today. I would have enjoyed its stillness and the chance to visit my favourite stand of ancient pines. However, in retrospect, I also know it was foolhardy to even think about running the park's dark, icey trails alone as sunset approached - so of course I can't be anything but grateful that the Universe conspired to keep me from reaching my intended destination through a series of happy diversions. 

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