I just discovered another favorite place to run- Bluff Drive on the east side of the Traverse City Mission Peninsula. After an exhausting but very profitable Team Orphans Cookie 5K (raised over $9,000) , Tom and I took two days up north to relax and (of course) bike and run.
I’ve run in lots of wonderful places- home in the Alabama heat, on the beach of Ft. Myers Florida, on the islands of St. Thomas and Jamaica, on the trail through Boulder, Colorado, on the Ironman race courses in Arizona, Texas, Florida, and Kentucky just to name a few. But so far, I have three places that stand out from all the others, places I long to run again.
My favorite place is the Gulf Island National Seashore on the coast of Florida between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach. There is a seven mile protected area right along the Gulf with no hotels, condos, or buildings of any kind. It is my hands down, number one place to run!
Part of the excitement is the Florida heat that feels so wonderful to this southern girl after enduring Michigan winters for the past 20 years. The other charm is the distinct memory from childhood. We lived for several years in Pensacola when I was young. The first time Tom and I drove the path between Pensacola and Navarre about six years ago, I got a wonderful deja vu feeling . I remember being about 7 year old and driving down from Pensacola beach with my cousin, Loree, to the most beautiful place I had ever seen at that point in my life. I didn’t know at the time where we were, but I know now! It’s a little haven of God’s beach, with no tourist traps. Every time Tom and I go down, I have him drive me to the other side of the National Seashore and I run back to the condo. If I could plan a perfect 10K race, it would be here!
My second favorite place to run is now Bluff Drive. Yesterday Tom and I ran it for an hour in the heat. This morning, I ran on it for another hour in the cool breeze. Both times, I was stunned that Lake Michigan was close enough to hear the waves lapping against the shore for the entire hour.
The sound of the waves was so soothing, I couldn’t spoil it with my music player. Ducks played in the water and sea gulls dove for food. On the other side, rows of beautiful houses and condos with gorgeous, colorful flowers enticed me. I enjoyed seeing houses of all sizes- some not more than a one room cottage and some multi levels with five garage doors! I can’t wait to run Bluff Drive again. Tom and I talked about trying to go up again this Fall. We found a B & B this time that let us take Storm, so we have no excuse.
My third favorite place to run is the White Pine Trail right here between Belmont and Cedar Springs. I’ve run over 1,000 miles on this trail in all four seasons over the past six years. Unlike running on roads or on a treadmill, God meets me on the trail. If you had told me this 15 years ago, I would have laughed at such a ridiculous idea. But I can testify that God is on the While Pine Trail! Each time I’m running there, I am taken in by His beauty and all I can do is praise Him and offer up a thankful heart. This part of the trail soothes my heart when it is aching. I think, pray, and sometime cry when I run here, but I always leave emotionally and spiritually recharged.
I hope that my knees and ankles will let me run another 1,000 miles in the next six years. Maybe I’ll still be enjoying my favorite running spots, or maybe I’ll have new ones by then. ” I have many miles to go before I sleep……”