Yesterday was my first five-mile run...for the training program I'm doing, yes, but also probably ever. It was pretty great actually; all of my runs in the last two weeks have been absurdly beautiful, because I've got Bayou St. John and the Jefferson Davis Trail AND City Park, all accessible to my house. That's what I'm the most bummed about leaving behind in New Orleans at this point. The runs can be miserable because of the heat, although lately, if I get up early enough, I can get back home before it gets too far above 80. But the scenery on my runs really makes up for all that. It's glorious.
Anyway, with the added mile from last week, I had to venture into City Park today, instead of stopping just short of it. I like to end my runs close to home, so I can walk my dog, Oscar, as a cool-down. Because of this, I just run half the distance I need to go that day and then loop around. Running on the bayou, that's easy; I just cross the nearest bridge and go back down the other side of the water. Things weren't so easy once I got to City Park.
Once inside City Park, it's a labyrinth of randomly criss-crossing paths and roads and bridges and water that have no logical pattern whatsoever. It doesn't help that the park itself has no concrete shape and is slightly angled Eastward. You think you're running around the edge and then suddenly you're on the other side of some body of water looking at a monument you've never seen before, and you don't know how to get back where you came from.
Perhaps those of you who have better senses of direction than I do don't have this problem, but I find it ridiculous. Anyway, I ran around the sculpture garden and NOMA and wasn't at the 2.5mi. mark yet, so I had to keep going before I turned around. There's nothing more monotonous than running around in circles until you hit your mileage goal...it's the same reason running on a track sucks. I crossed a bridge, found what seemed to be a running trail, and suddenly had no idea where I was. I just kind of had to keep going until I saw something I recognized. I hit 2.5mi. and tried to loop around instead of just running back where I'd come from. Big Mistake. After several minutes of this disorientation, I finally had to stop and ask some strangers, "does anyone know where the sculpture garden is?" If I got back there, I could get home. Of course, it was about 100 feet from where I was, blocked by a building and some trees.
I felt like I'd gone super far into the park because of how long it took me to get out, but when I looked at the map, I realized that I hadn't even scratched the surface. I'm really glad I won't have to deal with the whole park when it comes to the longer runs a few weeks from now...