Columbia, South Carolina

Posted: March 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

I left New England yesterday afternoon and arrived in Columbia, South Carolina late last evening.  Columbia hosted the 1996 Women’s Olympic Trials Marathon.  This morning I decided that I needed to avoid the treadmill in the hotel’s fitness center so I logged onto www.runtheplanet.com to explore the possibilities.  All recommendations led me to a 10 mile out and back course in Riverfront Park approximately two miles from the Marriott. 

I left the hotel @ 6:00 a.m. in total darkness.  Within two blocks I encountered an extremely large group of homeless men.  Soon afterwards I passed the Oliver Gospel Mission where they had just served breakfast.  As I passed through this group of men the smell of cigarette smoke, stale coffee and despair hung heavy in the early morning air.  I felt awkward as I ran past them with Newton shoes,  Garmin GPS, I-pod, etc..  Why does it take the misfortune of others to help us appreciate the abundance in our lives?  I adopted a much different perspective for the balance of my run.

As I approached Riverfront Park a platoon of Army cadets from nearby Fort Jackson were maintaining their combat readiness by completing an extremely early morning run.  They directed me to the trail beside the Columbia Canal.  I felt so alive and fit as I crossed an amazing wooden bridge and onto the path.  This Canal was constructed in 1840 to transport tobacco and cotton to the local market.  It fell into disarray during the Civil War and the introduction of trains practically ended its existence.

The light from the antique lamps reflected off the water to illuminate the path.  Within the first mile 5 foxes stepped onto the path and attempted to hide as  I approached.  They eventually scampered off into the nearby woods.  The moss draping off the trees, the warning signs about alligators and the Rocky Shoal Spider Lily were constant reminders that I was no longer in New England.  Over 200 species of birds, from the Carolina Wren to the Bald Eagle, utilize the Canal for either nesting or migration.

It just seemed so magical to be running through this area and I had it entirely to myself!  The first sign of morning light appeared just as I departed the Canal path and made my way back to the hotel.

I would rank this run in the Top 5 of amazing runs that  I’ve experienced in 35 years.  I will be completing fewer runs on hotel treadmills and exploring the local areas more,  wherever I happen to be!

Comments
  1. Lori B. says:

    WOW! Coach Rick, you have a gift for bringing us with you! Inspired my Gratefulness!
    If only that translated into me achieving that mileage today. ; )
    Thank you again!

  2. Gina says:

    I agree with Lori! Amazing 🙂

  3. Hello Lori and Gina,

    Thank you for your kind comments and for following my blog. Lori, tomorrow is a new day!

    Coach Rick

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