December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Went out for a 20 mile run this afternoon, and it was beautiful. Well, not the running per se...

I parked my car at Marymoor Park, a 640 acre field of goodness at the north end of Lake Sammamish. The park sits between the cities of Bellevue and Redmond, and also connects two sets of trails. My car would be home base, and I would run a ten mile out-and-back in either direction.

I first headed north along the Sammamish River Trail. I have run and biked this path a hundred times, but of course it had been a year since I last set foot on it. There were several people out, getting in their exercise before tomorrow's indulgence. It was in the high 30's when I set out, but the rains had passed.

As the name implies, the trail parallels the river as it moves slowly through the valley. Though Redmond continues to expand, the valley is still relatively open and undeveloped. The bare maple trees scratched the cloudy sky, and fog clung to the evergreens on the hillside. A few brave dogs chased balls into the river, and people seemed to wave and smile just a little more on the day before Christmas.

I turned around just short of the Red Hook Brewery. On many bike rides, the brewery was the marker that we were only five miles from the finish. On many occasions, we stopped for a pint or two before finishing the day. I really should have parked there so that could have been my finish line.

Heading back south, the sun started to peek through the clouds. It was at its highest point for the day, but this time of year that is pretty low. Sunglasses on. Back at the car I refilled my water bottles and grabbed some other fuel. The day had warmed so I stripped off my hat, vest and gloves. I should have picked up my camera  as well, but didn't really want to carry it for ten miles. But that was a mistake.

I ran across the park to join up with the East Lake Sammamish Trail. This one is another rails to trails conversion and sticks close to the lake edge. It runs past a number of nice lake-front houses, but much of the land is still open.

The lake was completely calm and no one seemed to be out enjoying it other than some herons sitting on old pilings. The sun was even lower in the sky, and passed easily through the bare trees. Across the way, the trees by the lake looked so bare and brown that they seemed to have been burned in a fire. The low sun lit them up once more, and they stood out starkly against the evergreen backdrop. There were many spots where I kicked myself for not grabbing the camera. All I could do was run a little slower and try to take them in for myself.

The last few miles were difficult as always, but I managed to pick it up a little bit over the last mile. The marathon is now less than a month away, so as much as I would have liked to have skipped out on running during vacation, finals are approaching. But I couldn't have asked for much of a better day, so I am glad I headed out.

Our family doesn't really celebrate Christmas Eve, but my brother is finally back in town and is coming over for dinner. We are heading into the holiday at a nice slow pace this year, and this afternoon's run was a peaceful soul cleanser. Since I was too lazy to grab the camera, you'll just have to take my word for it.

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