Week 41, 2012

Joseph D Grant County Park run.

After a crazy last week, due to moving, on Monday I flew to New York. I met Strzelu there and, among other cool things we did, on Wednesday we went for a run in Central Park. For him it was just 3 days after the Chicago marathon and yet I had a hard time to keep up -- now I understand how he made it below 3:10 in Chicago. Respect man.

On Thursday I continued my journey, flew to San Francisco and then went by train to San Jose, where my temporary housing was waiting for me. On Friday I decided to see my running options around here. I didn't have my hopes high as San Jose seemed to be anything but a runner-friendly city, but after little research I realized there's a river and a trail along it. So this is where I went. And it's not too bad! Sure, it's in the middle of the city, noisy from all the cars around and there are no spectacular views at all, but on the positive side one can run uninterrupted by traffic lights (once one figures out how to properly use the crosswalks), something that would never be possible in the city itself. Also, for the most parts the cars are on the streets above, but not directly next to you. All in all, not too bad and I did a steady pace run and then followed up with an easy one on Saturday.

But the highlight of the week was the Sunday long run. I love those. I love the planning of where to go and which route to choose and I love exploring new places on foot. Few days previously I got a car and new trail running shoes (see the photo on the left; I'm staying loyal to Brooks) so I was all set.

I chose to go to the Grant County Park, 20-something kilometers away from where I live, so I was looking at a 30min drive first. And it meant a good driving test through a steep and curvy road leading to the park.

My first big mistake was to leave some Walmart shopping for the morning. I did get up early but with a slow start of the day and super long time spent in Walmart itself, by the time I was finished I was ready to eat lunch. So in the end I got to the park only by 14:00 and since they were closing at 17:00 I only had 3h for my run. Not that I was planning to do much more than that, but that also meant that I had to do some careful planning and try not to get too lost (always a challenge ;).

By the way before going there I knew the park is home to some tarantulas. Upon arriving there I learned that there are also poison oaks and occasional mountain lions. In case someone was getting anxious about that the leaflet quickly continued to explain what to do in case one encountered one of those. So, you should stay calm, not run and make yourself look big by waving your hands. If the animal decided to attack you, you can still try to defend yourself; supposedly some visitors managed to fend them off with a stick or something. Much relieved!

I set off and hit the hills... Oh yes, if there's anything in abundance here it's slopes. Pretty much every park around here is located in or around some mountains so that's one thing you can count on. It's a good thing too as I can't see how some good hill training could hurt me ;).

My first idea was to run at a comfortable pace, but always run, including the uphill parts. That strategy was soon to be proved completely unrealistic. After some 20min of attacking the hills I was completely spent. The fact that it was super hot and the trail offered zero protection from the sun didn't help either. So I had to reevaluate and started walking the more uphill parts.

Still after the first 6K I was totally ready for a break. As usual I underestimated the hills (didn't Lakeland 50 teach me anything??). Still, I was enjoying myself and after a refreshing drink and a banana consumed for fuel I continued my upward journey.

Not much happening since then, except for meeting a lady who told me she decided to turn back after meeting a coyote (seriously, is that a national park or a zoo?). I thanked her for the heads up and run to the peak.

Both the way there and the view from the top were not spectacular, but pleasant enough and I wish I could run in such surroundings more often. Next week I'm hoping to hit another park (haven't decided yet, which one) so I hope to be back with more stories and more photos; although my phone camera is dead so I had to carry with me a real big one that I have, which is not exactly comfy; we'll see. Btw. check out the sign in the photo below ;)

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