My first attempt at trail running

Lye Brook 27 Jun 2013 - 01Trail running is one of the few activities not germane to Brooklyn. Sure, there are a few hilly dirt paths in Prospect Park, but for a truly challenging run, one must go farther afield.

I was in Vermont this weekend for a wedding, so I brought along my new Saucony Peregrines with the intent of tackling some rough terrain. I found some in my hometown, Manchester, on the Lye Brook Falls trail.

A spur route of the trail leads to a 125-foot-tall waterfall, one of the tallest in the state. I had visited the falls in April. But this time I was eschewing the view for increased altitude, taking the high road above. The climb was a little over 800 feet in 1.8 miles, a grade of 8%, leveling out at the top.

This being my first time trail running, I had a fast-learning experience.

The various types of terrain made for some strange mental shifts. Running on dirt was simple enough, but hitting steep hills covered with rocks forced me to keep my head down and my stride short. In many cases, I walked. At one point, my Garmin told me it took 19 minutes to complete a single mile!

Running through ferns and other undergrowth made me check for ticks once I got home (a good practice in the northeast, generally). But I loved running on what I assumed was an ancient railroad bed.

Vermont has been subject to heavy rains over the past few weeks. This weather resulted in several challenges: saturated ground (the trail had become a creek in a few spots), wet rocks (particularly tricky to navigate when gravity was on my side), downed trees (I used one as an excuse to turn around), engorged creeks (tough to cross).

Thursday was no exception to the rainy streak. The sky looked ready to open at any moment, but I escaped with a light drizzle. I brought along a sandwich baggie for my phone.

My body felt the shock of the varied surfaces. My ankle tweaked a bit every time it turned inward; my right knee ached. Call me crazy, but I like that sort of thing: my favorite time to run is during blizzards, because snow on the ground works your stabilizing muscles, which end up pleasantly sore for a few days after.

(I should note that it was my first time running in the Peregrines, which I had gotten for $50 at Jack Rabbit during Seventh Heaven. That probably had something to do with it, too.)

My [minor] complaints were many, but they were overwhelmed by the positives. With the exception of four humans and a dog, I had the trail to myself. It was a perfect way to clear my head of the busyness of city life. Plus, I got to take in views like this one, the roar of rushing water providing the only soundtrack:

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After five miles in blissful solitude, it was back to humanity – or Vermont’s version of it, anyway.

I long to return to the woods.

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Note: the header photo is of Lye Brook Falls. I took it in April.

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