Caping but not running

Home away from home

I rarely get sick. As a matter of fact, I cannot remember the last time I had so much as a cold. When I do get sick, it’s usually during the last week of the year. I always take the time between Christmas and New Year’s day as vacation time. It may be due to transitioning from weeks of intense business to being free of work, but I’ve suffered my worst colds, flu and even a bout with pneumonia during that time.

My favorite view

My vacation had been going along nicely. I was running every day and looking forward to spending a few days on Cape Cod. My last run before our trip was at the local high school track and I ran well. That usually happens when I run more frequently, in this case five times in a row. We’d rented a house in Barnstable, MA, and my running plans included a visit to the Shining Sea trail in Falmouth. I was also hoping to run on the local roads near our rental house.

Wild turkeys in Falmouth

Our house was located on the north edge of town and overlooked the water. Growing up, I spent almost every summer at the Cape and was excited to duplicate the experience with my family. I naively assumed that driving from Barnstable to Falmouth would take 15 or 20 minutes, but when we headed over there, I realized it closer to an hour’s drive. We had a great time in Falmouth, but I conceded to not running the rail to trail path the next day.

Nobska lighthouse, Falmouth

We covered the Cape out to Chatham and enjoyed the clear off season roads. The wind and cold on Wednesday pushed us to the edge of our comfort zone but we spent a lot of time outside. My son started feeling rundown by midday, but he was a trooper and stayed with us into the evening. By Thursday morning, my daughter and I started experiencing the same symptoms. I’d hoped to do an early morning run by our house before we hit the road, but I was in no shape to do that when I woke up.

Barnstable at dawn

Jiffy Pop. Too bad I burned it.
Chilly air and hot coffee

We left for home before 7:00 AM on Thursday. Fortunately, my wife has an amazing immune system and was able to pilot us back to LI without a problem. I spent the next couple of days feeling increasingly worse. My son started recovering by Saturday and that alleviated some of my concern that I was dealing with the flu or pneumonia. My daughter and I have been recovering on parallel tracks but progress has been slow. By Saturday morning, it was clear that I would not be in shape to do the January 1st Hangover Run with my Runsketeer buddies.

That was a good call because on top of my coughing and congestion, I was also experiencing significant lower back pain. I avoided taking any OTC remedies and rested as much as I could. This morning was a different story. My coughing has lessened and my strength has improved, but not enough to run. My daughter’s progress has mirrored mine and hopefully we’ll both be feeling much better tomorrow. I probably won’t get out for a run again until next Friday, but if that’s what it takes to beat this thing, I’m okay with that.

Running along the Shining Sea Trail

Watch out for turtles!

Yesterday’s run (Shining Sea trail): 4.2 miles

We’ve just returned from a mini vacation to Falmouth MA. This is a favorite spot for the Emerging Runner family and we’ve been going there for years. The last two times we’ve visited the Cape, I’ve taken advantage of Falmouth’s Shining Sea Bikeway that goes 10.7 miles from North Falmouth to Woods Hole. Yesterday I covered 4.2 miles of the path and saw some beautiful sights.

The trail was created along the former Plymouth and Vineyard Sound Railroad line that was built in 1861 to run trains from Sandwich to the southern tip of Falmouth. Train tracks are usually constructed on level terrain so the converted bike trail is fairly flat. While the trail did gradually slope up and down at various points, the grade was small. This made the shifts in elevation barely noticeable.

Park and run

Getting to the trail is easy with numerous access points along the way. Last year I entered at the northern trail head and ran a five mile out and back route that brought me through a few cranberry bogs. Yesterday I entered the trail farther to the south where I could park my car and jump right on the path. It was similar to how I access the Bethpage trail after parking on Colonial Road. The Bethpage trail is scenic, but the Shining Sea Bikeway provided some truly stunning views.

I want that shirt

Soon after I started, I saw what appeared to be a dog sitting on the side of the trail wearing a yellow jersey. When I got closer I realized it wasn’t a real dog. I was amused to see that jersey was an event tee from the famous Falmouth 7 Mile road race. Not long after that, I saw the first of many ponds and marshes that appeared along the trail. The areas that didn’t face water were densely lined with trees on both sides, making the experience more intimate than Bethpages’s more open space.

Swans and ducks on Oyster Pond

I imagined that this all looks pretty much the same as it did 100 years ago to people riding the train to Woods Hole. There were a lot of people on the trail yesterday morning walking, riding and running. My route took me to the mid-point of the trail, where I turned around and headed back. If I’d had more time, I would have added a couple more miles. The straight flat trail made me feel like I could run all day.

The only downside of this workout was that it amplified the soreness I’ve had over the past few weeks. We did a lot of walking yesterday and I was concerned that I had re-aggravated my injury. Instead of running when I got home this afternoon, I went for a 3 mile walk around the neighborhood. So far so good.

If it’s better tomorrow morning, I’ll try to go out for a few miles in the morning. I have an early obligation so I’ll need to get out before sunrise to fit it in. I wish I could run on the Shining Sea Bikeway again, but that will have to wait until our next Cape Cod visit.

Bright morning on the Shining Sea Trail

Today’s run (Shining Sea trail, Falmouth, MA): 5.3 miles 

School is closed because of a religious holiday, so we decided to take an impromptu trip to Cape Cod. We’ve spent a lot of time at the Cape and usually stay in our favorite place in Falmouth. I headed over to the Shining Sea bike trail around 6:30 AM this morning and parked in a lot that’s adjacent to the trail head.

This trail is part of Falmouth’s rails-to-trails system that covers many areas around the town. I set out on my run and noticed a similarity to the Bethpage bike trail, including a downhill section at the start. I enjoyed the change of scenery that included picturesque woods and cranberry bogs that spread out on both sides. There were a number of people out walking their dogs at that early hour, plus a group of cyclists and a single runner.

The trail was alive with all sorts of animal life. I counted six cotton tailed rabbits, many squirrels, and even some horses being ridden on a side trail. I ran south until I reached the 2.5 mile mark and continued another .15 miles until I reached a crossing where I turned back toward where I started. The way back felt more uphill so I was looking forward to the finish by the time I reached 5 miles. The last part of the run was an uphill section and it again reminded me of Bethpage where a tough long run is always completed with a big hill at the end. Compared to James Street or Bethpage this was fairly easy and soon I was done.

I may run this trail again tomorrow morning before we head back to Long Island. I do wish that we had a system of trails like that one in my town. But I can’t really complain since I have Staywell Woods so close by. A run there before the end of the weekend would make a nice bookend to today’s run on the Shining Sea.