I almost can’t call this week a training week, although I do want to say that my average pace for even my slow runs is clocking in at around 10:20 per mile, more than a minute faster than this time last year–so that’s progress, right?

Still, anytime I’m away from home, my training schedule gets, shall we say, flexible. Does that happen to you too? Would love to know how people stay on track when they’re in unfamiliar places! (I’ll be home for the next couple of weeks before Bill and I are off to Boston and hope to play catch up.) This week, I’ve been on a writing retreat. I was graciously offered a little cottage in near a river where I have hunkered down and worked on my novel without distractions or obligations. I realize this is a delectable privilege a lot of writers would give their right eye tooth for, and I’m duly, truly VERY grateful (thanks Ann and Allen!!!).

stock-illustration-16365092-rustic-cliffsI got here on Monday after doing my speed work in Carol’s group, took Tuesday off of running and then went out on Wednesday to see what I could see. The place I’m staying is just off of the Mountain Loop Highway, which is still closed to through traffic, so I felt fine running right on the street (almost zero traffic). The first day I just did four miles and explored the possibilities for the rest of the week.

Thursday I decided to go toward town on a 5-mile run, but I have to admit to being a little worried on the journey out and back.

A. There were no other runners anywhere to be seen.

B. Several people slowed down in their cars to literally LEER at me (literally LEER, like in the old days when it was still kosher for men at construction sites to whistle at women who walked by!).

C. Large dogs galore lunged out of their dog houses, pulling their chains to the limits, protesting my presence (fortunately I’m good with dogs and and soon as I started talking snooky wookums to them, their tails wagged–nonetheless, I was glad their reaches were limited).

I emailed my friend Andrea when I got back to the cabin about my rural adventures and she said, “Seriously dude, a running chick with all her teeth is like meat on a stick at wolf party!”

Gulp.

Today, instead of going into town, I headed out the other direction on the highway–up into the National Forest. What a beautiful place to run!! The road flanks the river on one side, while on the other side, the mountains reach toward the Milky Way. I relaxed and really sank into my pace for about a mile and a half. Then I had a very sudden feeling that I should turn around and go back. I don’t know about other women but I listen when my Inner Wisdom speaks to me, even if I don’t know why. She’s not a voice to be trifled with!¬† So I turned around and enjoyed the view going the other direction.

Just as I was reaching my turn off road (which I fully intended to bypass and keep going toward town–just not as far as the house with the first pack of big dogs), a little white car containing a scrunched up man with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth came puttering by, slowed WAAYY down to stare at me, and then stopped just beyond me and began to turn around. I picked up my pace, veered onto “my” street and cut my run short. It’s just as well, I think. When I got back to the house, Allen told me not long ago a man’s dog was abducted (and presumably eaten) by a cougar right in the area I was running!

So I’ve had an amazing week of writing, a couple of gorgeous (if nerve-wracking) runs, and lots of quiet time for reflecting even if my training was a little lacking this week. Next week I’m back on track.

And you? Have you had the luxury of veering off of your training schedule as I have or have you stuck to it faithfully? Either way, I’m proud of you for getting out there, for having goals, and for moving toward them (whether inch by inch or with great strides)!

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