Watchless, Worriless

I went on a 13 mile trail run today, and forgot my watch at home. I was a little annoyed at first, but since the trail wasn’t so close to my house, I figured I’d just forget about it.

It’s funny, I never realized how used to a watch I am. When I set out, I felt like I hadn’t really started because I didn’t click the “Start” button on my watch. And at various points throughout the run, I checked my startlingly bare wrist to calculate my pace. Toward the end, I think I started hallucinating, because I could’ve sworn I saw a watch on my arm… phantom watch syndrome, I suppose.

Though it took some getting used to, the run was definitely nicer without the watch. I’m not one of those runners who cares so much about my pace for long runs (it’s a different story for speed-work, of course), but today I realized that I still do worry about my time in the back of my head. And not having a watch forced me to concentrate not on my time, but on running based on how I felt, which is undoubtedly healthier and smarter training.

So, while I don’t recommend leaving your watch home for every long run (it’s good to know your long distance pace), I do urge any runners who’ve never tried it to forget about time and hit the trails. It’s worth it, believe me.

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Trail Running Fiasco: The Lost Car Keys

Perhaps it was a bad sign when we got lost about 6 minutes into our run. Maybe we should have turned back then and avoided the entire situation. But, unfortunately, we had no way of knowing what was to come.

My brother and I set out for a trail run up in Bear Mountain State Park (in New York) early this past Sunday morning. The run itself was great. Besides getting terribly lost every 15 minutes or so (we had to sit over a map for 10 minutes after the run just to figure out where the heck we went), it was a nice route. We climbed ‘The Timp,’ a very steep ascent which provided a rewarding view of the Hudson River and Manhattan in the distance.

And then, while we were about 10 minutes from where my car was parked, I checked my water bottle for the keys.

As you may have guessed already, they were not there.

We were, to put it bluntly, screwed.

We ran past the car until we found someone who worked for the park, and he called the police. They broke us into the car and we decided to call a locksmith instead of towing the car back to Long Island (over an hour away). While this was happening, the police officer who was helping us got a call from a hiker who actually found our keys. Incredibly lucky as that was, nothing came of it; the hiker must have walked out of cell phone range and we couldn’t get through to him again.

I won’t put you through the same agony my brother and I went through, so I’ll summarize briefly.

Four hours, $500, and quite a bit of frustration after the end of our run, a locksmith managed to create a new key and start the car.

An hour and a half later I was home. And already planning our next trail run.