Showing posts with label navigation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label navigation. Show all posts

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Back to Bethpage and into the woods

Up and down and all around
Today's run (Bethpage State Park trails): 4.3 miles

My reward for all my half marathon training the past eight weeks was a trail run at Bethpage this morning. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that a lot of landscaping work that's being done at the park. I was curious to head towards the bike trail to see what was going on, but I was anxious to begin my run. I'll check that out next time.

For the first time in months, I headed to the trails on the northern side of Bethpage State park. As usual, the surface of the trail was well groomed, with a layer of wood chips across a very wide path. I followed the main route for a third of a mile before ducking into a side trail. I had little sense of direction as the trail wound through a series of twists and turns. The path went on and on and it made me wonder if I was just traveling in a big circle. I was really enjoying this section but hoping for some sign of a larger trail so I could get my bearings.

I finally broke away from that path and found my way toward the northernmost part of the woods. I turned south and headed along the western side of the woods for a while, before following a loop that (eventually) brought me close to where I'd started. I was close to my car by then, but I decided to run a loop around the parking lot before ending my run. After so many weeks of 10+ mile runs, 4 miles seemed very short.

Being back on the trail was a great experience. No thoughts of pace or mileage. I often lose my bearings when I run trails and that makes me feel both anxious and adventurous. I know I can't get too lost, but I often wish I had a better sense of where I am when I'm in the woods. I suppose I could carry a compass or my smart phone with GPS, that shows positioning in real time. But what fun would that be?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Seven the hard way at Stillwell

Today's run (Stillwell Woods) 7.2 miles

Due to tight schedules around yesterday's party I had to keep my run fairly short. Today I considered a trip to Bethpage to attempt a long run on the bike trail. The temperature was in the low 20's with the wind chill so I decided instead to head to Stillwell Woods. I figured that the woods would cut the wind and provide better running conditions than Bethpage. Plus Stillwell is closer and I get in for free.

I parked close to Southwoods Road, purposely locating my car as far from the trail head as I could. I figured I'd add some extra distance by running the quarter mile road along the way to the woods. I felt strong winds at my back and looked forward to warming up further as I ran. I followed my usual loops through Stillwell. After two years I know some trails well enough to run with confidence. That's what I thought anyway. I was moving along, feeling good, and after four miles I varied my route and cut through the southern part of the woods that led me back to the main trail. At that point I was feeling like I'd mastered the geography of Stillwell and despite choosing paths that had many gradual inclines I felt strong. I decided to run for a couple more miles and restarted my usual loop, but at the six mile point I found my way into unfamiliar territory. With only the sun to guide me I followed trails that I thought would bring me back to my starting point.

It may have been the slight anxiety that comes from being lost or the fact that I encountered some steeper rises but I began to feel tired and frustrated by the lack of directional context. Maintaining my sun-based navigation method I eventually came to a path that I recognized and I followed it west until I reached the playing fields at Stillwell.  From there I ran straight across in a beeline to my car. The freezing winds hitting me head-on were brutal and that last quarter mile seemed to take a very long time. I quickly got into my car and downed an electrolyte drink, sweating and freezing at the same time. I was happy to have covered over 7 miles today, bringing my weekend total to almost 12. I guess I'll have to wait another day to run 10. Seven in the woods was plenty hard today.

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