Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Trail Run + City Run

In the past two weeks I've had two new "firsts" as a runner: 1) I did my very first long trail run; and 2) I did my first run in a serious urban environment.  I've done some runs around cities and parts of cities--Columbus Marathon started in downtown Columbus, I ran around Louisville, I ran around DC... but downtown Los Angeles took it to the next level.

So first, the trail run.  For a long time I've avoided trails because I dislike the amount of attention it takes to run on a trail; it always seems to me that you have to be constantly watching the ground and alert so you don't wrench your ankle on something.  And, well, I like the mindless monotony of plodding along on a nice flat paved road.  But one of my running buds is getting into trail running pretty seriously and she invited me along on a run she was doing at Darby Creek Metro Park just outside of Columbus--the photo here is taken from the park's website.  We headed out around 330, and boy was it cold--what a day for a run.  But the trails there were beautiful:  one of the better parks I've seen around here.  There were some hills, and parts of the trail go alongside Darby Creek.  We did 7 miles through the woods and then did our last 4ish on this out and back flat trail.  Well, in theory it was a flat trail, but what it really was is a packed limestone path that had recently thawed and refrozen with deep footprints and bike tire tracks--it was a terrible running surface, and we'd thought this was going to be the easy finish to our more difficult woods running.  It took a lot of attention and also got increasingly freezing cold and dark; we ended up making our planned 13 mile run into a just-over-11-miles run so we wouldn't get locked into the park.  All in all, though, I would say that this trail run was a great experience and I'm not adverse to doing more trail running.  I do only have road shoes and no trail shoes, though, but it seemed fine in road shoes.  I was worried about the little air pocket thingies in the heels of my shoes getting punctured, but they were fine.  This run overall made me feel pretty badass and awesome.

Then, Friday and Saturday this weekend I was in Los Angeles for a conference.  At one point on Saturday to combat stress I threw on running clothes and went for a little short 3 miler around downtown LA.  The notable thing about this run--and why I'm considering it my first "serious" urban run--is that my garmin would not get consistent reception due to the tall buildings.  I turned off the auto-pause so it would stop pausing constantly, but I really have no idea if the distance it measured was accurate or not because it kept losing reception.  I don't know how city-runners do it.  Also, I don't know how city-runners get any kind of steady running in at all, as there are so many street crossings and such.  For awhile I was doing a stoplight run, where at each corner I'd just turn whichever direction had a walk signal, but I started to get worried that I was going to get all turned around and confused so I nixed that plan.  I had a contingency plan in case I got lost--I put a credit card in my sports bra in case I had to take a cab back or something, because I had a limited time to run and a very important place to be 2 hours later--but I was able to find my way back.  Also, on this run I saw a taxi accident and the ensuing craziness of ambulances and fire trucks shortly thereafter.  Yikes.

As a side note, Los Angeles was nothing like I expected; I didn't really have time for sightseeing since I was there for such a short time, but it seemed very sprawling and spread out, and when my flight got in I was shocked by how brown the sky was... so much pollution.  And the downtown area seemed kinda dirty and ick.  My experience of San Francisco was very different than my Los Angeles experience... I can say that I think I'd live in San Francisco (in spite of how cold it seemed there), but probably wouldn't live in Los Angeles.  Maybe there are better parts of the city that I didn't see, though.  I didn't get to do the Hollywood tourist thing, and I didn't make it to the ocean.  I did, however, see the very very tiny Hollywood sign from my hotel window (not my photo, but pretty much it looked like this, just a bit smaller!)

Facts are facts, and I really like my little flat paved bike path in Columbus where I run.  I guess I'm a bit spoiled as it's kind of the best of both worlds... a flat even surface that goes through woods and parks and along a river, and down by the city if I want to run in that direction.  And no cars.  But the trail run was nice.  I'd do it again.


  1. There are some lovely areas of LA without the tall buildings, but, with only Downtown in your views, I totally understand. I *hate* going downtown, and I live in LA. It's loud and smelly and crowded there. Ick.

  2. I live about 2 hours away from LA and only go there if I have to. I think the only time I've actually run downtown is whenever I've done the LA Marathon. There are definitely nicer places and better runs though, especially when you head toward the coast.

    One thing that LA has, though, is multitudes of vegan/veggie restaurants. I read quarrygirl's reviews and I want to move their. Briefly.

    Your trail run sounds much, much nicer.

  3. Haha, the stoplight run made me laugh! When I ran in Boston I'd do a route that had so many stoplights. I remember I once got round without having to stop a single time and I was about 5 minutes faster over 3 miles!

    I'd love to do more trail running. The surface you were on sounds pretty tough, and constantly having to pay attention, rather than being able to zone out, puts me off a bit too. But I love the idea of being more out in the countryside. I'm reading Feet In The Clouds (James Askwith) at the moment about fell running, and that's even making me want to run up mountains!