Vacation Running: New England Style!
I typically measure my year not in months, but in semesters. This no doubt has at least a little to do with the fact that I work, study, and teach in a university setting. As many academics will tell you, your brain and body just end up calibrating themselves differently. So, not only is it now the beginning of spring but it’s also spring break season 🙂 The less than average attendance and antsy nature of my students the Friday before break started would have told you all you needed to know about the anticipation for this week of rest before the last half of the school year ramps up. Secretly, I was right there with them.
For the second year in a row, the beautiful epicurean and I made the trek to New England to visit family and friends. One of my favorite parts of any vacation is the opportunity to get out and run in a new environment (followed closely by the delicious food!). The opportunity to explore a new area on foot, with the flexibility to take any turn and venture down any path adds an air of excitement to any run. Now, add to this the fact the the landscape in all of New England is decidedly different from that of Iowa (namely, WATER and HILLS!), and you have the makings for some great adventures.
Of course, my vacation did begin with the previously mentioned run around the beautiful lakes of Minneapolis. After wrapping up that lovely run, we hopped a plane and headed for the ocean!
We landed in Providence around midnight, picked up our rental car, and headed for our first stop- Mystic, CT. This historic village is actually located within the towns of Groton (West of the Mystic River) and Stonington (East of the Mystic River). The historic Mystic Seaport houses the nation’s largest maritime museum. When I first visited this beautiful community last year, a sense of familiarity sat on the tip of my tongue.
After inquiring further, I made the connection, and realized that the film Mystic Pizza was based right here! For those of you able to remember this classic, I’m sure it would have brought a smile to your face just as it did mine 🙂 Now, I may not have seen Julia Roberts as I ran by Mystic Pizza, but I was treated to some beautiful maritime scenery, gorgeous sail boats, a draw bridge, and a subtly hidden network of trails which provided an additional challenge as I neared the end of my run. Having run in a number of places, this place may just top my list!
Our next stop allowed me the opportunity to not only run in a new location, but also cross off a state from my list! I had always heard about the beauty of Maine, but never had the opportunity to visit…until now! For a majority of the time, it was mildly overcast, with palpable moisture in the air, ready to pop at any moment. Somehow, this seemed perfect, and although cool damp days in Iowa leave me searching for energy, the environment in Maine somehow gave me a boost and made the enjoyment that much greater. We drove through Portland to Brunswick, ME to visit friends and we were certainly shown a wonderful time.
Brunswick has a great deal of history and character, which made run down its many cobbled streets and exploring the variety of trails a true joy. I also had the opportunity to run through the campus of Bowdoin College,an historical educational institution founded in 1794. The campus was quiet and serene as I ran through, no doubt due to the students being on Spring break. However, the peacefulness of the surroundings left me with a sense that that place had many secrets if one was only willing to stop and listen. Once again, the run had its share of hills, which only added to the beautiful route as I wound my way around the community.
More than anything, being near the water gives me such an overwhelming amount of energy and excitement while I run, which probably explains why I love travel to coastal areas, and being near the ocean or large lakes. I’m sure the fact that I grew up in the land of 10,000 lakes might have something to do with that as well.
In the end, there just isn’t anything in a land-locked state that can compete with the experience of hiking/running 2 miles into the woods, and then being overtaken with a scene like this as you emerge from a clearing. Simply breathtaking!