I created a new 7.3-mile route by my workplace. It was meant as a substi-tute for my 8.2-mile route around Lake Tappan. I did it because I’m running a bit slower than I used to, and don’t always have time for 8.2 miles.
There’s actually no way to shorten the 8.2-mile route unless, of course, you’re also training for a triathlon. The entire route is around Lake Tappan, so I suppose swimming across it might be an option, provided United Water doesn’t have you arrested for trespassing on their reservoir (yes, all of Lake Tappan is part of their reservoir system).
My first time out on the route was a bit unnerving, though. I created the route the night before on USATF Route Finder – a gem of a tool on the USATF’s national website. It allows you to create routes via map and/or visualization. The only problem is that you have to save the route to their site. It doesn’t allow you to print directions, so I wrote down the turns on a tiny slip of paper that I’d carry with me the next day.
Before I went to bed, I placed the slip in my car, so I’d remember to bring it with me the next morning, when I went to work. Yes, I figured, it would be a nice route. The 8.2-mile, my so-called “Reservoir Run” was beautiful, but I had high hopes for this one. It went through the eastern country roads of Pearl River, NY.
Excitedly, I went up to the gym at work the next morning and changed into my running clothes. I was so familiar with the first two miles of the route (from overlapping with another route I used to run), I didn’t even need to check directions. I just enjoyed the scenery. Golf-course on one side, the northern continuation of the same reservoir system as Lake Tappan on the other.
After about two miles I reached the critical first turn. My old route goes left. This new one goes right. So then I had to figure out where to go after that. I felt in my pocket for the directions…..
….yes, I felt in my pocket for directions…..
….Where could they be. I put them in the car last night so I’d remember to bring them. And yes, I did bring them upstairs with me. But now, I need them now, and they’re not here. Gulp, where to go.
Luckily, I have this penchant for going around in circles. And while the roads were new, I was at least familiar enough with the area to find my way back to familiar roads – amazingly, without leaving the prescribed route.
It helped that I followed some basic rules I have for route mapping.
1 – Make sure it doesn’t have many turns (I can’t process too many turns, not even in my hometown),
2 – Put it on fairly busy local roads (good if I need to ask directions, take a potty break, etc.),
3 – Make it circular (this means that almost all of the turns will be either left or right, not a combination of both).
After showering and changing in the locker room I went upstairs and found, lying on my desk, the slip of paper with the directions. See, at least I remembered to bring it to work…
Now I’ve already run the route so many times I already launched the first of my experiments where I loosen the rules a bit. I found a tiny little side street that looked good to run on. Truthfully, it just by-passes a busy corner, so it doesn’t add or subtract anything. Ok, it does curve a bit whereas the corner roads would go straight, but I can’t see this road adding any more than a tenth of a mile. And the really good news is that if I’m running even later than normal, I can easily scale this down to 6.5 miles, without having to get wet.