Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bikes, at least, have gears

This morning I drove over to Bethpage State Park to check out their trails. I had read a lot about the bike trails that begin in Bethpage and reach as far south as Sunrise Highway allowing a person to ride (or run) 13 miles. You could conduct your own personal marathon by turning around at the end and running back! The cost to park was $6 and I hesitated for a moment thinking that there are plenty of places to run for free. My curiosity got the best of me and I drove on and parked in the main lot which is situated north of the paved trails and golf courses (including the famous Black Course which will host the US Open this year).

I started my run at the beginning of the paved bike trail that starts immediately with a sizable hill. There were a number of bikers and walkers out at that time but it wasn't so crowded that I had to avoid people or slow down at any time. Once I crested that hill I ran on a mostly downward slope. The whole time I was on that part I was thinking how hard it would be tailing in with that long incline. There were other hills and descents over the first mile and a half and I mentally banked the work I'd be doing upon my return. My plan was to run about 20 minutes and then turn back. The paths ran parallel to both highways and streets but the trees blocked most evidence of civilization. I started seeing runners from the other direction and figured most people start from the southern part of the trail and then run north. Everyone was courteous and despite all the bikers I never felt that I was in danger of being run over. I reached a point where the trail was marked "4.0" and turned around to come back.

I felt good throughout the run. The trees provided good cover from the sun and I moved along pretty well. Having just run the trail from the north direction I had a sense of progress coming back. I did start to tire at mile 3 and winced at the thought that I'd be hitting the biggest hills near the end. I passed a number of walkers along the way and waved to a couple of bikers and other runners that I saw earlier from the other direction. I encountered a few up and down spots and tried to conserve energy on the declines, taking shorter strides on the hills. The last hill was as long going up as I'd remembered it coming down. I wasn't going to stop and I didn't. Once I realized I'd crested I knew that the only thing ahead was running down the big hill to the end. In all I covered 5 miles and probably would have gone a little further had the trail extended another mile.

Later that day we took a quick trip to the outlet stores so I could get a couple of needed items. While there I went into the Adidas store to look at running shorts. I have about a dozen pairs of shorts but, besides my Pearl Izumi's, most aren't made for running. I ended up getting a great deal on an expensive jersey that reminded me a little of a Zoot shirt that I covet every time I visit City Sports in NYC. After that we hit the pool and then headed back to Bethpage to walk the cinder trails. Those trails are really well maintained with lots of different routes to choose. I wore my NB trail runners for that walk and my daughter and I did a little running together so I could get a feel for the trail. I'll be back soon, dressed fully for running.

I loved my experience at Bethpage but didn't love the parking fee. The guy at the gate said I could buy an Empire Passport for $65 that allows access into any NY state park. Seven visits to Bethpage alone would pay for it so I think that will be a good family investment

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