Monday, July 20, 2009

Your Favorite Running Area

My Garmin GPS wrist computer's data on my PC screen provides all I need to explain why, as I try to hobble my way down the stairs this morning, my back is so sore, my achilles tendons are taut like steel cables and my arches are tender. Afton's 25K course, and my few off-track wrong turns, provide more gnarly hills per linear mile than most any other place I frequent (barring the north shore). That's terrific, since I love hills. Granted, to make the full 16 miles I walked most each and every one of them except all but the tamest. Afton has tremendous single-track, beautiful, diverse plant communities to run through (ranging from floodplain forest, through hardwoods forest and into the high and dry savana) and several stream courses to follow and cross in its web of trail options. The views of the St. Croix from several vistas are magnificent and the trails never seem overly busy. The real treat is that all of this beauty makes the challenging running all worth while. It propels me to push and meet, or even surpass, what I think I can do in a way similar to the mountains or a paticularly aestheic rock or ice climb. This time it meant finishing 16 miles of its trails in 2:58:13, 11:08 min/mile with 3500 ft of elevation gain...peanuts for accomplished runners, but this pace is faster than what my 3 mile, paved and flat urban running pace was last January, so I'm lovin' life right now...I doubt that my pace would have been as fast in any other trail I run with lesser beauty.
So here's a call out to all you trail runners: let's hear about your favorite trail runs and why they are so special.

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