|The new, improved Bethpage trails|
Today’s run (Bethpage State Park): 6.4 miles
It’s a beautiful day on Long Island, sunny and a little cooler than yesterday. Today is Cinco de Mayo but we’re not doing anything related to that. Tequila lost its appeal many years ago, but by dinner time I may be persuaded to go out for Mexican food. Today is also the day of the Long Island Marathon, Half and 10K. I feel slightly guilty for not participating this year, but I’m glad that I didn’t need to run 13.1 miles this morning.
It’s been at least six weeks since I ran at Bethpage and I’ve missed it. The last time I was there, me and KWL did an early morning run and covered six miles. I haven’t done too many runs greater than five miles this year, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to renew my Empire Passport and run the bike trail.
After getting my sticker, I drove to the lot and saw that much work had been done to the trails since I last saw them. The entrance to the north trail was now open, and a small structure had been put up next to the trail head off the parking lot. There was fresh paint marking the newly paved sections, and a new sidewalk was added along the main driveway.
When I reached the northern trail entrance I noticed more improvements. I saw some new access points to the dirt trails and some decorative fencing around rest areas. They’d also stenciled distances in tenth of a mile increments in bold white numbers. Even though I wear a Garmin, I still found that to be extremely helpful during my run.
I felt good at the start and had no trouble with the rolling trail as I moved north. I wanted to go six miles to get a little more base conditioning and my energy level seemed to support that. A year ago I was at Bethpage every weekend doing progressively longer runs as I trained for the half marathon. I thought about the LI Marathon and Half that was going on as I ran. I did feel strong, but I don’t think I could have managed a half today.
I crossed Haypath without a problem and then Old Bethpage Rd. Neither had much traffic. I wondered if I’d reach my projected turnaround point of 3.1 miles before I hit Old Country Road. I preferred not to cross that busy street if I could avoid it. I was about a quarter mile short of my halfway mark, so I needed to keep going. There was a traffic light and crosswalk, so I had no safety issues except for the bozo on a bike who cut me off when I reached the other side.
There were many walkers and cyclists on the path today, along with a smaller number of other runners. I had another bike incident, when a cyclist riding in the same direction that I was running, passed me with an inch to spare. She was busy talking to her two friends and wasn’t being careful. I yelled “hey!” but she didn’t react (or apologize). Most cyclists are courteous and careful, but it was amateur hour this morning.
I covered the second half of my run faster than the first. I had no trouble getting past the two short but steep hills located a mile from the trail entrance. For some reason I began feeling stronger on that last mile, so I picked up the pace. That helped get my overall time into my “acceptable range.” When I got back to the lot, I saw what looked like a clown car convention. It was actually a Mini Cooper show taking place at the park. Unfortunately it attracted some losers who decided to tear around the parking lot in their cars (not Mini Coopers BTW) before exiting at a high rate of speed.
I was very happy with my run today, especially for the fact that I haven’t done a six miler in a while. Now that I have my new Passport, I look forward to visiting Bethpage and the other state parks without needing to pay an entrance fee.