Youngstown Travel Blog› entry 9 of 34 › view all entries
My hair smells of woodfire as I type this. That's because I spent probably an hour camped out near a fire in a stone fireplace after today's run. This morning a couple in our run club had rented a cabin up in Mill Creek Park, the large city park. Our group met for a morning of run time. We had just about a dozen altogether including two guys from another run club. After the obligatory group photo, we set off together for some time on the trails but ended up splitting into smaller groups the farther we got from the cabin. My group finished with five runners although Tommy only dropped out in the last mile or so with a twisted ankle. Janie had remembered to bring her phone so her husband was able to come rescue him. He could have walked back to the cabin on his own--we could see him on the other side of the lake and he was striding along--but Neal made things easier. The precipitation scheduled to come at 3 in the afternoon rolled in before we even started (9:30 to 10ish in the morning) so I was very grateful for my light rain jacket Christmas present from my parents. A few of Erin's pictures from the day probably show a small hooded runner which would be me attempting to stay semi-dry!
I have not done any trail running since high school--and those moments were rare and almost always flat. Scooby led us up and down hills, across small meadows, through parking lots, and over bridges. Just when I thought we would get some road time in, he would swerve off the concrete into the fallen leaves, sometimes at a marked trail, other times on a track that only familiar eyes and feet would find. I lost track of the number of climbs we made although usually it was the downhill over orange and brown slippery leaves that proved more dangerous and heart-stopping. A couple times a nearby tree helped steady my feet as Mother Nature threw mud and debris at my toes. Throughout the route I kept thinking how beautiful the area was--three lakes, a creek that widened and narrowed, rocky hillsides, pioneer-style buildings including a mill, waterfalls. Then I would look down just in time to avoid a rock or root. The constant uphills and downhills did not allow us to actually run the entire time but overall the walking was limited, and standing around waiting on someone was definitely rare.
I ran without a watch since this was just a Fun Run so I have no idea of the total time. The mileage came in at 8.2 according to our guide. Oddly even though my knees had started complaining probably two miles back and the insides of my feet were having an argument with my shoes, the last part was not hard. I still felt strong coming in. Maybe because we had not run the whole time (some of the uphills demanded walking to safely climb, a few pauses had allowed our group to stay together). Maybe because running with a crowd always provides its own source of energy. Maybe because I knew food and warmth was waiting right inside the cabin!
We had a great lunch set up with soup, chili, sloppy joes, orange slices, clementines, carrots, celery, peppers, crackers, trail mix, and cookies (!). The hot foods were the perfect temperature: warm enough to revive the body without burning your tongue. The sweet foods were just delicious. We sat at long tables or near the fireplace and then moved about the cabin to enjoy each other's company. My legs may whine a bit tomorrow but I have to say, today has been one of my favorite days for a run not just in the winter but ever :)