spain, wellbeing

Parque de Agua: My Longest Run Ever

Long breath out, then inhale, exhale again in a predictable rhythm. Heart rate staying steady, working harder than usual. Legs keeping a steady pace, the grooves of my shoes lightly pounding the gravel and dirt while giving a comfortable cushion. “Seriously, they’re like mountain bikes for your feet,” I contemplate about my trail running shoes for at least the fifteenth time in the last couple of months.

I feel the physical stress melting away with every step. Check my fitness watch, I’ve been going for 25 minutes – I’m almost to the halfway turnaround point. Tighten my abs a little, push my shoulders back, raise my head to look up at the trees surrounding me. “How is everything so green?” I meditate. It is March, so the subtle shift from brown to green is still in process. I think to myself how this wooded side of the Parque de Agua is a wonderful little discovery I’ve made.

Reaching the bridge that’s the overpass of the A-2 highway, the trees disappear and everything is just gravel and dust. I’m starting to feel tired, but I push on. Just a few more minutes until I can turn around and start my 35 minute journey back. I’ve never been this far before. I’ve reached the unknown and I kind of want to keep going, but I dutifully turn around at 35 minutes, snap a quick photo of the river, and keep moving.

Heading back on the same trail, I notice there are a surprising number of people out and about on a Friday until I remember it’s Cinco Marzada, a local holiday. Though I don’t have the day off, I feel fortunate to have a light workload on Fridays that gives me time to come out in the middle of the morning and do this.

Noticeably absent are any major pains like I used to get in my side. I can’t believe I’ve gone this far already, despite the fact that I’m just over halfway done. My mind is clear and any traces of stress I may have had are long gone. Just me and the sound of birds and my own footsteps. I contemplate a few ideas, and then let them go as quickly as they came. The spring air is refreshing on my bare arms, free of the jacket I had been wearing when I started. I’m sweating pretty heavily and I’m sure my face is red, as it always is when I exert myself. Staying on this side of town has its perks, I think to myself, being this close to so much nature.

I slowly start entering “civilization” again – cement sidewalks giving way to the fully asphalted Expo. 67 minutes – just three more to go! As I head into the last mini-forest by the river, I feel triumphant. I reach the grassy stairs, ….57, 58, 59, 70:00. STOP. Whip out my phone to stop my Strava app at 70 minutes and press Save. Right leg up…. stretch. Left leg… stretch. Arms behind my back… slow down my breathing. Check Strava to see just how far I went.

I did it! I passed 10 kilometers!

This is just the beginning of the story of how I’m making 2021 my most active year ever.

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