Monday, February 4, 2013

"Lines for a thousand, Trebek. What is a cowboy state line?"

In elementary school I was never a Geography Bee Champion. In fact, a few weeks ago I made the mistake of identifying Washington's capitol as Seattle. In full confidence, too. It didn't take long for the stunned faces of my friends to make me think, "Was I suppose to answer in the form of question?"

But it got me thinking. On one of my few runs this year I became lost in a train of thought about shapes. An odd segue, but bear with me. This is strange to type, but it's a loose recap of my thought process:

"Shapes have such a distinct, well, shape. We learn, after a few attempts for most, that placing the red circle in the blue triangle slot doesn't work. States have interesting shapes. Counties have odd shapes, too. Georgia has 157 counties. That's a lot. I wonder who got to decide to go around the tree in the middle of the woods. I imagine a cowboy barreling north in the forest with red paint. Tagging trees as his horse twists and turns. Eventually he gets tired and turns east. Yes, all counties are drawn in a clockwise direction. States must be made up in the same way."

After finishing my run, I hurried to upload my latest data from my watch. Looking at the map on my computer page I saw shapes. The outline of my route: bold red; just like a cowboy had been chasing me. Saddle-up, pawt-na. <- phonetic, with a Southern drawl.

<Light bulb Moment>

I'm going to start naming my routes after states they look like on a map. I quickly open up a Google map and start comparing. My first run: Nevada. Okay, it's not perfect. It's Nevada on a diet. Or, somehow Nevada got stretched vertically. Regardless, this simple way of categorizing my routes now affords me a way to easily look-up and compare times over specific routes. It seems like that would be simple, but if you use eight different trails, or a ton of different roads you're left with a huge route name. Or, you're left with some off-the-wall thought like, "Red Triangle Through The Night." With this system you can easily get fifty repeatable routes, and avoid telling your friend to go run, "Loopy Potholes On Sidewalk Beneath A Pine Tree."

But there are a few drawbacks. Out-and-back routes don't get a name. And routes that have two loops connected by straight lines all look like Hawaii. My solution to running the route in reverse, I just add reverse to the route name. Original, I know. Biggest problem: How am I going to run a route that looks like Michigan?