Caleb Smith trails: bad conditions for both run and runner

Hazards abound on the Caleb Smith trails

Yesterday’s workout (Caleb Smith State Park): 3.4 miles (run), 1 mile (hike)

It was a busy Saturday for us, and I didn’t get a chance to post about yesterday’s activity until this morning. Yesterday afternoon we headed over to Caleb Smith State Park where my wife and kids participated a candle making workshop while I hit the trails. Hurricane Sandy had done a lot of damage to the park, but they’d just re-opened the yellow trail. The blue, green and red trails still remain closed.

Prior to leaving for Caleb Smith, we’d stopped for lunch at Moe’s. That was a mistake on my part. Lunch was fine, but I didn’t give myself enough time for proper digestion. I thought I felt fine when we arrived, but soon after I’d started toward the trail I could tell that’s the going would be tough. I pressed on hoping that I’d begin to feel better as time went on.

After a mile I couldn’t ignore the discomfort. It wasn’t a stomach issue, but I felt lethargic and my legs felt heavy and unresponsive. I decided to walk it off and covered a half mile before resuming my run. The trail was in poor condition, with branches strewn along the path by the storm and thick mud from the morning rain. The parts of the trail that were covered by leaves were the most run-able.

I felt marginally better after a half mile hike and resumed my run for the next mile. I had looked forward  to this trail time, but I wasn’t enjoying it much. The trail markings were a little inconsistent and I found myself on the closed paths once or twice. In most cases I could keep going until I reconnected to the yellow trail but once or twice I had to double back.

At one point I thought I saw another runner through the trees, but couldn’t really see much, except that it clearly wasn’t a squirrel or a fox. I thought it was odd that someone would run off-trail, especially with the current conditions. During my next loop around, I detected the same movement and saw that the “runner” was actually a deer. I noticed two or three others soon after. They kept their distance but didn’t run away when our paths came together at a clearing.

I ended up running over 3 miles, though not continuously. I was happy to be finished and vowed not to repeat my mistake of having a big lunch prior to an effort of that scale. After my run, I spoke for a while with a ranger whose team maintained the park. He told me it would be some months before the cleanup was completed. There’s a lot of tree damage that they can’t get to with heavy equipment so it comes down to a two man crew that uses old fashioned methods to precision cut and remove damaged trees.

I’m planning to do a neighborhood run later this morning and really hope that yesterday’s running difficulties don’t carry forward to today. I’d rather have yesterday’s lunch to blame than to be dealing with a bigger issue related to being ill.

D’oh, a deer!

Rainy conditions on Stillwell’s trails

Today’s run (Stillwell Woods): 4 miles

Yesterday’s workout was focused on speed and intensity so I thought I’d go for an easier run today. It’s been a while since I’ve visited Stillwell Woods and a trail run sounded like a good idea. Just for fun, I downloaded a podcast from 3nonjoggers.com. This is a trio of trail runners who record a weekly hour-long running-related program. I read about them in the April issue of TrailRunner magazine.

I have not run with a music player in years, but, with my new pocket-rich running shorts, I thought I might today. I’m glad I did, as the podcast was funny and interesting and I certainly recommend it. While I feel that listening to music or podcasts is dangerous on the road, at least I won’t see any cars on the trail. Mountain bikes, yes. Deer, yes. But no cars.

I mention deer because I had a close encounter with one this morning. I was moving along nicely on a twisty section of singletrack, when my eyes caught a flash of beige about five yards ahead. Apparently I had surprised a large deer grazing in the woods. The deer jumped onto the path in front of me and took off very quickly. I literally said “What the @#$%!” when I saw it. Although I’d seen deer on my runs in the past, I’d never seen one at Stillwell.

Besides the deer sighting, there wasn’t much happening on the trails this morning. It was raining lightly when I started and the rain intensified for a while during my run. The canopy overhead protected me, but I still got fairly wet. My only company besides the deer were three bikers who passed me on my way up a steep rise. The tables got turned when they sputtered out before reaching the top and I just kept going. To their credit they cheered me when I went by.

Ready for future recovery

Later in the day I returned some Adidas recovery slides that my wife bought to surprise me. It turned out that she ordered the wrong size, simply because she listened to what I told her. They are Adidas Superstars with a very comfortable foot bed. I look forward to wearing them after my next run.

Tomorrow morning we’ll be at the Memorial Day parade to watch my son march with the school band. That will preclude a long morning run, but I’ll probably do a treadmill workout as I begin my taper week. I’ve had some interesting experiences on the road, track and trail this weekend. Might as well add the treadmill to the mix.