Sunday, September 6, 2015

Summer U.S. Road trip running

Our family had the awesome opportunity to road trip across the country for 3.5 weeks in July. My husband who is a co-founder of Altra Running and now works in marketing there travels a lot and we had been able to save up enough Marriott points to cover the whole trip!  So awesome. 

What wasn't awesome was finding out we had to move shortly after getting back so we packed our current home up into pods in the 10 days before our trip and set of "homeless" if you will. It was great to finally get on the road to at least relieve the stress of packing. 

Not sure I'll cover every run (I'll leave out the treadmill runs, you're welcome), but here's a good summary. 

First stop was a quick paved trail run near Denver. They apparently have a skunk problem. I thankfully did not. 

I next ran around the Independence, Missouri area in a neat park, Ruth Stocksdale Park. 
No mountains now but neat views
Loved all the old churches and buildings we saw. Really was interesting to see how much older the eastern half of the country is. 

Next my husband and I got to sneak away for a run together in a suburb of St Louis, St Charles, Missouri where he served a 2 year LDS church mission. This Lewis and Clark Trail system was great!  Although covered in spider webs. 
He drove back to the hotel and I finished a long run along the Katy Trail which is an incredibly long, flat and wide dirt trail running across most of Missouri. I love the green of the Midwest and East coast!
Was quite surprised to see this on my run halfway across the country #skiutah!

Finally made our way over to the East Coast and wow, so crazy to be in the Atlantic Ocean. LOVED that warm Yorktown, Virginia water. The kids and I had a blast swimming. Fun to get my open water swim on. 
We thankfully only came away with lots of sand on us and no tetanus. It really was a beautiful beach

After some great national history in the Yorktown, Georgetown area it was a run around Lake Accotink Park in Northern Virginia. Great place. Holy moly was it humid!!  Easily the most drenched I have ever been on a run outside a rain storm. Just couldn't believe how saturated all of me was so quickly. 

On to Washington DC!  Crazy to wander in front of the White House 2 minutes from the hotel. Ran a beautiful river trail, onto Theodore Roosevelt island which feels like such a remote abandoned old city. 

DC run #2. So fun to explore a city that's usually so busy and loud while it's quiet and still. So much to be thankful for in this country 

Now onward and upward to Long Island, NY. It was so wild and surreal driving into Manhatten at night, that we'd really driven from Utah to NYC!  This Long Island run was a neat change from the big city of the last 3 days. 
Now onto the big apple, NYC!  When you're using hotel points, pretty much every level of Marriott is the same points in big cities so we had the chance to stay in the Essex House right across from Central Park, amazing!
First run in NY coach scheduled a Central Park lap warmup followed by Quensborough bridge repeats. Pretty cool to have coach Nick know the area. 
It was neat to be away from all the tourists and see the locals getting to and from work early morning during the week. Even stopped a guy I saw in Altras for a chat. 
Second NYC run was two big loops in Central Park. Enjoyed people watching while on the road and meandering around the trails inside the park. 

Had another lovely run on Long Island before leaving the area. We got really lucky with the temperatures and humidity and neither were usually unbearable. I love the green!

Now in upstate NY it was off to a muddy good time around Mendon Ponds Park. Lots of neat cross country and woodsy trails, well marked. 

Next stop was Grifith, Indiana before our trip into Chicago for the day. A quick simple paved trail through a suburb that almost landed me with a tetanus shot. Lesson learned: if doggie snarls the fist time, resist owners urge to try and pet him again when you come back the other way. 
No U.S. road trip complete without Mall of America right?  Not according to an  11 year old girl anyway. This was also a turning point run for me. I'd been struggling with a tightness outside my knee for almost a month now and one of my NYC runs and my last run in Indiana were rough. And while I had been getting up early (like before 5am) most days of these road trip weeks to get my runs in without interrupting our family, I still hadn't managed longer than a 2.5-3 hour run. This run I woke up early yet again prepared to be outside the whole time. Unfortunately it was dark and pouring and the sky full of lightning. So the first 90 minutes or so were inside on a treadmill. Once I ventured out the sky was stormy dark blue but it made for some neat scenery again around the lush green. Looking at this photo L to R, top to bottom you can see that in the first three photos. Then came an interesting sign kind of in the middle of nowhere that left me running a little quicker (turns out the sign means that people with dissabilities are taken out to experience hunting here, near the trail, so they don't want you coming in and/or scaring the wildlife around). 
The canoe. Oh boy. So I had this plan of a big loop around this big river. Unfortunately when I got to where I expected to cross back over it, I found myself here, literally on the wrong side of the overpass. A little uncomfortable with my surroundings, very isolated. No way to get up on that road I needed. 
I considered the canoe still, but decided against it ;)  I was in a conundrum now. We needed to get on the road for our next long drive and I did not want to go back the 7 miles I just went. So I figured I'd run up the river even higher and there would be another place to cross. The problem with "The land of 10,000 lakes", is there really isn't much bushwacking that can be done, without waders anyway. I was so close to some railroad tracks (according to the map view on my phone anyway) which were next to a road. I tried getting to them and ended up turning around super frustrated with the swamp land around me, and now so itchy I thought I might pass out for a minute there. Wow. Kind of a scary idea being no where near car access. I did have the brilliant idea to grab a stick to itch my legs instead of using my hands though. I had called my husband to come pick me up since I was running so behind and headed north figuring at some point this must let me out. And finally and obviously, it did. 
A great trailhead map and information sign greeted me which was great but I'm surprised there was one in the 10 miles previous. Anyway, the good news was my energy levels and legs felt great for all 5 hours I was out on them. And my husband wasn't upset I ran 2 hours long ;)

Our last main stop of the trip, Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Ran 60 minutes on the road from our hotel across town in some sketchy areas very early in the morning to get 45 minutes on these awesome piney trails near Skyline Drive that reminded me of home. It was really fun running!
Switchbacks!!  The need for switchbacks again!
It's amazing how much drier the air felt from one day, and one state, to the next. Back I ran my hour to the hotel passing this cute fairy house.  Home sweet home soon for us too!

What an amazing trip!  We had reservations about going when not all of our 4 kids would be old enough to remember, but we had the hotel points and the time. My husband worked on the road and when would we ever have 3.5 weeks we could all be together?  So we jumped and had a grand adventure!

As far as training quality, I was definitely focused and knew what every workout was. I didn't get quite the heat at home or obviously much vert, but I did put the miles in and didn't get bored of my surroundings. 

I really loved experiencing the country via running. All runs required very early wake up calls, a couple were on a treadmill, some on the streets of the big cities we were in, and many on their surrounding trails. I did a lot of googling for trails nearby or just looked at my map for green latches signaling parks. This country is full of great things to see, go out and play where ever you are!

No comments: