The Third Run
Yesterday was my run day. For some reason, I find myself called to running in parks. Maybe it is the scenery. In any case, before I started running I scouted out three parks with walking/running trails that were all fairly close to my office. Monday, I went to the first one, which I will call: Creek Park. (Because there is a creek next to it. How clever am I?) Yesterday I went to: Wetlands Park. (Because the trails go through the wetlands. The cleverness continues.)
There are several really good things about Wetlands Park. The first is that it is right on my drive home from work. It is just three or four blocks off the main route I drive each day. So, if I want to run after work, it is the perfect location. It’s a pretty park, located as mentioned, in the wetlands. When I visited back in March, I was a little concerned that the trial might be too secluded, but I need not have worried – there were tons of people using the park (almost too many – more on that later) and in order for anyone to be laying in wait for a newbie runner to come around the corner, they would have had to been waist deep in mud and cattails!
The park has a loop that it is a little over a mile long. Three quarters of it is a boardwalk winding through wetlands, the last quater is an asphalt trail through fields and woods. I have a special place in my heart for this park – until I was 5 years old, my family lived within walking distance of it. My mom and I used to come down quite frequently so I could play on the playground there. My mother was a teacher at a nearby school at the time, and I remember her going down to the park to cut pussy willow stems for her classroom. On my run, I passed a big pussy willow which just made me smile.
The boardwalk is really nice, but it has obviously gone through a rough patch this winter and hasn’t been repaired quite yet. There were a couple of spots where a boards were missing. It is also set right down into the water, so there are places where the water and mud came up over it. Usually there were boards across at these spots, so it wasn’t bad. Actually, they made it kind of fun – my ultimate goal is to trail run, so it was fun to leap over mud puddles and missing boards, a little like a mini obstacle course.
There were a few downsides, however. One was gnats! Swarms and swarms of gnats! I am running intervals right now, (4 min. walk/1 run and 3 min. walk/2 run) and when I was running these weren’t really a problem, you’d go through them quick. When I hit them while walking, however, they were a real pain. There wasn’t a thing I could do about it – I’m on a boardwalk, there was nowhere to go, and honestly, I am the one in their habitat.
The other slight problem was the people. On one hand it was really nice seeing the variety of folks using the park. There were people running, there were lots of people walking dogs, lots of couples strolling together and several families. (My favorite was passing a mom and two boys, one of whom was singing “nature.. nature…”) The problem is that the loop just isn’t very long, so you end up seeing the same people over and over. It is a little awkward. And of course, someone felt they had to comment. A guy walking with his dog said, “You are dressed for running, but you aren’t running.” I told him I’d been running 2 minutes ago and I would start again in another minute! It really wasn’t a big deal, but it makes me wonder how many people are going to be out there this summer when the weather is really nice… and how many bugs!
The run itself was very pleasant. I started with 4 walk/1 run intervals, and after a few tries, got it up to 3 walk/2 run. I was pretty darn proud of myself for that! The next run will be this weekend. I haven’t yet decided whether I will go to a park, or do some neighborhood running. It will depend a lot on my schedule.
I do like running so far. It’s a little hard to tell, I feel like right now I am concentrating so hard on what I am doing – trying to keep good form, listen to my body, watch what I am doing – that I haven’t yet experienced just a pure moment yet. That will come! As a calorie counter, I love how many calories are burned. Even though I am still so slow that My Fitness Pal doesn’t have a running category for it (so I put it under Brisk pace, Walking) I still burned twice what I do on an average dog walk. That made me very happy!
Do you run? If so, where do you like to run and why?
Photo credit: andyarthur