City running, and Valley Forge

I’m not a pavement runner. Back in Anchorage, I rarely run on the road except to reach the Coastal Trail, which is exactly 1.6 miles from our house. In fact, I rarely run on the paved Coastal. I prefer “real” trails and rough footing and no one around but the trees and the wind and the mountains.

How odd, then, that I’ve been enjoying runs on the roads around the Philly suburbs. Perhaps it’s because I find the experience exotic: hilly back streets lined with trees and hedges. My sister lives on the edge of a ritzy neighborhood, and the large and imposing stone houses are so different from what I normally see around Anchorage.

She also lives a few miles from a trail that leads to the bridge that leads over the Schuylkill River to Manayunk and the towpath trail that runs along the river. From there you can connect to the Kelly Drive and Forbidden Drive trails.

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Forbidden Drive Trail

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Old bridge on Forbidden Drive Trail.

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Isn’t this cool? It’s the remains of the first drinking fountain in Philly, dating back to 1854.

I haven’t been running as much as usual. I’m here to visit with my sister and so I’ve been maintaining 35-45 miles a week. I don’t want to put running in front of my family, don’t want to become one of those people obsessed with getting my miles in at any cost. I used to be like that. Sometimes I’m still like that, though I’m trying hard to find a better balance.

My sister has been working at home and I’ve been working on freelance pieces, but between that we’ve still managed to slide in fun stuff such as going to the zoo.

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I’ve kind of fallen in love with this rhino.

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I love visiting the Philly Zoo and appreciate the outdoor space and more expansive areas for the animals. But it’s still a zoo. The animals are still caged. When I watch the big cats pacing, I imagine living my life inside a cage and not being able to run free for miles and miles and I swear, I want to break down the walls and let the poor things loose.

“Run,” I’d whisper as they charged past. “Run like the wind.”

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This lion reminds me of Aslan from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” one of my favorite children’s books.

Sunday we visited Valley Forge National Park, where we walked around historical sites and brushed up on history. We watched a short film about Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War and learned that many of the soldiers had no shoes in the winter. They had no coats or blankets either and slept with hay over their bodies. The cabins where they lived were tiny. Eight to ten men squeezed into the space smaller than most living rooms. Eight to ten unwashed men, their teeth unbrushed, their clothes dirty. No Internet or TV or radio or books (probably, few of them could read), just eight to ten men telling the same stories every. single. night. Imagine that.

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In the middle of our trek around the landmarks, we found ourselves caught up in the most marvelous of thunderstorms, with high winds and fierce rain and spectacular lighting. We waited it out in a bathroom crawling with spiders (I don’t mind spiders but my sister does, hee, hee). When it finally let up, we made a go for it. We were about two miles from the Visitor Center’s parking lot when the storm returned with a vengeance. The winds were so strong that we barely had to move. We simply lifted our legs and the wind swept us along. I was soaked and cold and yet I loved every minute, for we don’t get storms like that in Alaska.

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This was taken about a half an hour before the storm. Look how sunny it was. The temps were in the 70s. We had no idea that the weather was about to change.

Next week I fly back to Alaska and 30 degree temperatures and icy trails and snow and all of that good stuff. Until then, it’s sunny runs in the 50s over suburban roads and city trails and evenings hanging out with my sister because, you know, sister love is the best.

Last week’s stats
Monday: 10 miles
Tuesday: 14.5 miles
Wednesday: Rest/ long walk with my sister
Thursday: 5.5
Friday: 8 miles
Saturday: Rest/long walk with my sister
Sunday: 9.5 miles

 

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