Running at Sunrise = You're on your own buddy!
I drove to Penwood State Park. I've been there a couple times before and I feel comfortable with the general layout and elevation profile of the trails. What I didn't expect was to be essentially the only person out there that early. Haha.
I started at about 7:15am (sunrise was at 7:10a) and simply hoped that I didn't end up falling down a ravine or running into a waking bear.
One thing I do love about the trails is the view. Sure, you're packed in with trees, sunlight shining through the trees, and squirrels that scamper off every so often, but when you hit the cliffs, you get an amazing view of the surrounding area.
"Where the H*&# Am I?!"
As I said, I've been to Penwood a couple times and I felt comfortable with the few paths I've been on. However, I apparently don't remember them that well. It took me 20 minutes to find my way over to the yellow trail. After it merged back to the Nature Trail, I thought I remembered a lake where I simply turned back to the Metacomet Trail. That's not what I saw that morning. I didn't find the lake, so I veered away from the blue Metacomet Trail thinking I hadn't hit that section yet. All of a sudden I'm on an Orange Trail. "I don't remember an Orange Trail!"
|Orange?! Where the heck is that?!|
"A road?! Entering Simsbury?! I thought I WAS in Simsbury. Where the H*&# am I NOW?!"
"Oh. Ok. I'm at or in Wilcox Park. That helps. But where the H*&# is Wilcox Park?!"
Of course, this didn't phase me. I stopped to take a picture (obviously) so I would remember to look it up later, took note of where I was (at some road I didn't recognize) and which trail I came in on and left on (there were 3-4 entrances at the road end) and kept on running. I was shooting for a total of 2 hours, so I headed past the Wilcox sign for another 15 minutes or so and then turned around and came back. Thankfully, I'm pretty good at backtracking, so I made it back without much of a problem.
Turns out, the Orange Trail is the northern part of Penwood and Wilcox Park where I did finally leave Penwood. Trial by error I guess!! Haha.
Those Roots and Rocks Come Up and GRAB You!
I swear they do! At Sunday's 50k, there were a lot of people coming out of the woods with dirt on their knees, some dried blood, and talking of the falls they had. While completely understandable, I somewhat brushed it off as missteps they had taken and such. If I underestimated their ability to maneuver the trails in any way, I take it back!!
I found myself in the dirt 4-5 times and nearly there another 10-12. The leaves are beautiful, but they hide quite a bit of what is underfoot. And having been a road runner for so long, I'm not used to picking my feet up as high as is needed. Ugh!! I am hoping this comes with time.
Ummmm... Where'd the trail go?!
On my way back, instead of heading off the Yellow Trail and back onto the Nature Trail, I opted to continue down the Yellow which meets back up at the parking lot. Well, about 5 minutes later, I run around a fallen tree and slow down thinking "Where is the trail?" I look back and see the yellow square on a tree a ways back. "Ok, so I'm not completely lost." I looked ahead in all directions and couldn't find another marker. And the ground was so covered in leaves that I couldn't see the worn path. I eventually found some red markings, but nothing yellow. After another few minutes, I decided I just had to back track and finish up on the Nature Trail.
As a mental note, I'm going to have to come back here and figure out where this trail actually goes! The Nature Trail is paved and I'd prefer to stay off of it.
Time Passes Faster In The Woods
Before I knew it, I was back at the car an hour and fifty minutes after having left it. I figure I ran a total of somewhere around 7-8 miles, but it felt like more and less all at the same time. On the road, it's easier to judge how far you've gone. On the trail, I'm so busy just making sure I'm not stepping wrong on the rock or root that I lose track of how long I've been at it. It is actually quite nice to sort of 'lose yourself' in the woods (not actually getting lost).
I figure I'll be in the woods twice a week for my JFK50 training. And to be honest, I'm super excited. And I hadn't even started drinking yet! I ate a Mojo's bar when I arrived and a Clif bar on my way back. The slower pace (average 14:22/mile pace) and cooler temperatures will help me be able to be out there longer without needing to head home. Yay!! Who wants to go home?!!
1. Do you run on trails at all?
What do you think of road versus trail running? I've done some trails before, but nothing much. I always love the experience and I feel it's very different than road runs. On the road, I am all about pace because there is little to distract me. On the trail, I'm more concerned with making sure I don't fall off the cliff and getting a cool picture than about where I'm at at what time.
2. How early do you get out to run?
I've done 6:30am runs before, but that's during the summer when the sun is already up. I will need to look into getting a headlamp before I head out much earlier than 7:15am now.
3. Do you have a favorite trail picture?
Feel free to share!! If I get a bunch, I'll make a separate post with them for us to peruse through!
DREAM. BELIEVE. ACHIEVE.