Sunday, April 17, 2011

A truly scenic adventure

After our fun run at work on Thursday, now suddenly I can’t get enough exploring different routes.  I had taken Friday and Saturday off of running, but this morning I was fully charged and ready to run.  When I go through a decision process as to which route to run, there are several factors to consider: How many miles do I want to run?  What are the weather and road conditions?  Is there a short cut if I want to head back early?  Is there an optional extra loop if I’m feeling frisky?  Do I feel like climbing that mammoth hill outside my driveway, or would I rather head downhill on the trails out back?  This morning I didn’t have time to run through the entire checklist because I rolled out of bed and laced right up.  I knew I had a busy day ahead with a long ride planned for my horse, so I didn’t have a lot of time to think about the run.  A couple critical things I knew: I wanted a decent 6-8 mile run, and I didn’t feel like climbing the mammoth hill. 
I dressed for a warm day since it was in the 50’s and it looked like the sun was trying to come out.  A nasty storm had blown through last night and the weather was still very unsettled with gusty winds.  At first I started to regret my choice of clothing because the wind really picked up and I got quite chilly.  Once I got to the dam, it was all I could do to keep my visor from blowing off.  Eventually I made my way across the dam and the wind subsided, and I started to warm up.  Although I still wasn’t convinced I wore the right clothes, I was very happy that I brought my camera.  Today ended up being a great scenic run!  For starters, I snapped a picture of the West Hill Dam, a frequent stop of mine for the famous “Damn Laps”.
West Hill Dam - home of the infamous Dam Laps

After crossing over the dam, I really didn’t have a plan.  I decided to just keep running and exploring some new roads.  The storm from last night had dumped several inches of rain, and there was evidence of it everywhere.  The trail that brought me to the dam was flooded and it was a challenge making my way through without getting wet.  The water roared through the dam’s spillway, and deep puddles and washouts lined the streets.  When I left for my run this morning I hadn’t even turned on the news, so I had no idea how much it had rained.  This was probably a good thing since, had I known, I probably would have talked myself out of such an adventurous run.
I continued down a street until I connected with another trail that runs along the Blackstone River.  The water was so strong and powerful, I couldn’t help but stop and take a couple more photos. 

Raging water!

This river trail was so scenic, I slowed to a jog to fully enjoy the view. 

I stopped to take a picture of River Bend Farm, a very picturesque part of town. 

River Bend Farm

This trail was so enjoyable to run on, I could have just run up and down it all day.  I had to take another picture of the trail and river, to give everyone just a glimpse of the amazing scenery I was lucky enough to see on my run. 

The river trail

Once I reached the end of the river trail I was back on roads, and ended up doing a big loop until I made my way back to the dam and eventually home.
This run was a real treat on so many levels.  I loved all of the new scenery, and the adventure of building a new route.  The combination of trails and roads was perfect, and it was surprisingly flat.  I know I won’t be able to use this route regularly for my long run because of its lack of hills, but it is a great way to accumulate decent miles (7.25) while mentally recharging.  It will also never be a fast route for me, since all my picture taking and leisurely jogging down the trail jacked my pace up to a 9:59 average.  But honestly, today… I wasn’t counting.

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