When the weather doesn’t require four layers of clothing to avoid cryogenic results, I sometimes decide to dismount the Stairmaster at the gym, slather myself in three coats of SPF 1,000,000, and exercise outside.

I prefer walking/running/beggingformercy at the forest preserve to gallivanting around my neighborhood, because I don’t want my neighbors coveting my desperate attempts to channel my inner antelope from their living rooms. Plus, in the woods, if I get overly sweaty (or gassy), no one sees (or hears… or smells) it. …Except for the runner who snuck up behind me while my iPod volume was at an everyone-can-hear-you’re-listening-to-the-Beauty-and-the-Beast-soundtrack level.

I’ve become convinced the trails are for hardcore cross country runners, couples (including people with their dog), and hikers with equipment that no one should be able to afford. The trail is not a place for a young woman who overestimates her running abilities, forgets to charge her iPod, and doesn’t check how long the trail is before she starts it. In other words, I am not qualified to be a forest preserve adventurer.

Self-Measured Mile 1

It feels so good to be in nature. I’ll take this over being trapped next to an overly-sweaty elliptical grunter at the gym any day! I’ve never felt so alive and present in my own existence… Being in the wondrous majesty of Mother Nature has truly given peace to my heart.

Self-Measured Mile 2

I’m going to run for a while. Head up. Long strides. BREATHE. Oh yeah, that group of serious runners said, “Good morning!” to me like I’m one of them. I think I could totally run with them if they invited me to join their running crew. That could totally happen, right? I look like one of the trained runners on the trail… Maybe.

Self-Measured Mile 2.1

Alright, that’s enough running.

Self-Measured Mile 4

Why didn’t I bring any water? I’m so thirsty… Maybe I’ll squeeze the raindrops from these leaves into my mouth. Why are there so many hills? Shouldn’t there be a warning before you start that this trail is tyrannically terrained?

Imagine this with trees, dirt, and jerks on bikes.Source
Imagine this with trees, dirt, and jerks on bikes.
Self-Measured Mile 7

Where am I? How far have I gone? I have to be nearing the end… This trail is like the endless hallway from Poltergeist…

Self-Measured Mile 10.5

It’s those runners again… They saw me walking (possibly limping) so now I’m definitely not going to be invited to their super athletic, toned muscle, cross country crew. How did they make it all the way around again? The end has to be near…

Self-Measured Mile 18

What have we here? Did this man really get off of his bike to take pictures of the stream? He’s so pensive. I could take his bike and never look back. I’m never coming back to this trail anyway. Would I get caught? Would they post composite sketches of the Bike Bandit Bitch on every trail? I’ll ditch the bike once I’m back to my car. …This guy’s probably a bad person anyway. I bet he’s blood doping. Maybe if I pull my shirt up over my nose… The upper third of my head isn’t that distinctive.

Self-Measured Mile 25

There goes the wordly cyclist/amateur photographer with his top of the line ten-speed and his fancy DSLR! I wish I had stolen his bike. At least he couldn’t possibly distinguish my tears from sweat at this point…

Self-Measured Mile 31

What muscles are engaged when one rolls? Abdominals? …Obliques? If I got enough of a momentum coming down this hill, maybe I could roll all the way to the end and take out that too-good-for-me group of runners on the way.

Self-Measured Mile 40

People on horses? If people are traveling this trail on horseback, it is not meant to be journeyed on human legs… Is there room for me on the saddle… Please pick me up. I promise not to hug you too sensually like some motorcyclist’s wives do their husbands…

Self-Measured Mile 68

THE END IS IN SIGHT! I MADE IT! …That was only 8.1 miles? Impossible. I’m disappointed that the forest preserve doesn’t update their trail information regularly. There’s no way that trail was only 8 miles.

23 thoughts on “The Chronology of Your Innermost Thoughts on the Walking Trail

    1. It’s terrible. The only good thing about being out in the forest is that less people see you. …But when they do, it’s always athletes in peak physical form, whereas at the gym, you might get a scathing glance or two from some balding man watching his cholesterol.

    1. Speaking of Olympians, I was on the walking trail yesterday, and I saw someone with the Olympics rings tattooed on his shoulder. In my opinion, he was not running at a speed to warrant that tattoo, so I think he was just delusional.

    1. I had no idea what I was getting into, and because I didn’t have my cell phone with me or anything, I just had to keep going or I was risking a Hansel and Gretel outcome.

  1. I think for me with running, it has to be amount of time, not distance. Because I am slow as a turtle and will be sweating and panting before the distance is vaguely worth talking about. Great job on finishing the trail though, 8.1 miles is good…even if it feels more like 68.

    1. That’s how it is with me, too. If I go for speed/mile length, I’ll make it to a mile or a mile and a half and have to stop. I really suck at running. I envy those that were in cross country/track in high school so they had to get good at it.

  2. I would have curled up in a fetal position and whimpered softly until someone came to poke at me with a stick. Then I would have wrapped my head in my shirt and stole their bike/horse. Jeez Katie, crime is the way to go in nature. Survival of the fittest!

    1. Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind. I was going back into a state of nature and channeling my basic survival instincts. The one problem was I’m not sure I even know how to use a ten speed bike. …Or a horse.

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