Archive for November 24, 2010

One of the things that I have started to really look forward to recently is to find new places to run while I am away from home in Austin, TX. Run for Dom in just the last 12 months has taken me to 27 different running cities in three different countries. I’ve run across the Golden Gate Bridge, along the coastline in Mexico, on the waterfront in Ontario and high in the mountains in Colorado.

I’ve run Venice Beach in California, the strip in Las Vegas, from Hopkinton to Boston and of course the city streets of Pittsburgh.

But this week while I am in Pittsburgh for the Thanksgiving holiday I was looking for a break from the golf course area near my Mother and Father-in-Laws home. Don’t get me wrong, the Beaver County Country Club is a beautiful place to run, it has some amazingly challenging hills and is less than a mile from their back door.

But for some reason I was hankering for something different this week for my training runs.

Maybe it was the fact that the last time I ran the golf course was the morning of Dom’s memorial service. I may just not be ready for that run yet.

So after running a very nice 8-miles along the Allegheny River on Tuesday morning in downtown Pittsburgh along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail, I was looking for another location to “explore” on Wednesday.

A friend of mine reminded me of the Montour Trail, not too far at all from where Dawn grew up in Hopewell, PA. I would have to drive about 20 minutes to the trailhead just east of Moon, PA. But it was an opportunity to turn my Wednesday run into an adventure. The Montour Trail is a wonderful run, hike and bike trail, made possible by our country’s Rail to Trail initiative.

An opportunity to take old railways that are no longer in use and turn them into a trail system allowing outdoor enthusiasts to see some beautiful parts of our country. The Montour Trail runs from Pittsburgh all the way to Washington, DC. 32o miles of adventure.

Montour Trail

I only had a 6.2 mile training run on my training plan as I had taken advantage of the Three Rivers Trail on Tuesday morning to run my “Wednesday 8-miler”. I had a feeling however that 6.2 miles was not going to give me enough freedom to explore, and I might need to stretch things a little bit further.

I woke up to 32 degree temperatures, with a wind chill of 24 degrees. As I toggled my iPhone to Austin’s weather it read partly cloudy and 73. Essentially a 50 degree difference.

Fortunately I planned ahead and was able to put on running tights, a long sleeve Under Armour Cold Gear top, my long sleeve Boston Marathon technical shirt, two pairs of gloves and my Asics Winter Running Hat.

I was warm, snug and feeling fine as I made the 20 minute drive to the trail head. I pulled off of Montour Run Road, parked the car, stretched a bit and headed East.

The miles seemed to click by easily as I got underway, running along a small creek that would miles later funnel into one of the rivers that surround Pittsburgh, I was greeted by miles of perfectly packed crushed limestone. My feet crunched away as I headed down the incline toward Robinson, PA, toward downtown Pittsburgh, toward Washington, DC.

Montour Trail, Robinson, PA

When I hit the 3 mile mark it was time to turn around if I wanted to bring my run in at 6.2 miles.

I kept going.

As I approached the 4 mile mark, I thought that if I turned around and made this an 8-miler, I could run 5 miles or so after my Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5K and get back on track for my weekly mileage.

I kept going.

As I got to the fifth mile, I decided that even though I was enjoying myself, it was time to turn around.

I would be racing in less than 24 hours. Time to get back.

To make things interesting I decided to bring the run in with the second 5 miles coming at a faster pace than the first 5.

A Negative split. Something I am hoping to be able to pull off at Austin in February.

This was made a bit more difficult as the first five miles featured a gentle downhill grade, that would now require me to climb a bit back to the start of the trailhead.

6 became 7, 7 became 8, 8 on to 9 and a final mile to wrap up a great 10-miler run.

Splits for the first 5 miles were:

7:12, 7:08, 7:02, 7:05, 6:58

Splits for the second 5:

7:05, 6:56, 6:58, 6:48, 6:44

10 miles – 1:09:55 (6:59 min./mile pace)

As I got back in the car to head home I thought about all the great miles on the trail that we didn’t get a chance to see this morning. During my next visit perhaps I can run longer, or start at a different access point to run through one of the old train tunnels or over another old bridge.

That is one of the great things about our sport. No matter how many times you lace up the shoes and go for a run, no matter how far you go or how many races you run. There are always new challenges.

New areas to explore, and no matter how far you run, you always have to turn back around before you reach the end.

We are now up over 2,000 miles in 2010.

I’ve barely gotten started.