Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The weekday training run

On Steve’s blog, he pointed out that running bloggers often describe their races in great detail, but talk very little about their regular training routes, often just listing a distance and perhaps a time. He posted a fantastic description of his regular route and suggested that others do the same.

I thought this was a great idea, so here is a synopsis of my typical weekday training run, complete with pictures (avid readers have seen all of these photos on my blog before, but I thought I would do a compilation of some views from various points along the route!):

I start out at my place on a bike path that parallels a 4 lane road (this is the least scenic part of the run). Just shy of a half mile, I turn at a cemetery and head into a neighborhood filled with large homes, making my way towards the park trails.

Some lilacs from May, near the corner where I turn into the neighborhood

As I take a sweeping downhill right hand turn, at approximately .7 miles into my run, I get barked at by a feisty wire hair terrier (this is a given, every day...he hates my guts and wants a piece of me). A couple of homes later, I hang a left and I am on the Three Rivers Park District trails.

This particular trail is winding with a couple of small hills. It passes by a pond and a low-lying swampy area. I occasionally see deer here, and in the summer the pond usually has an egret or a heron hanging out. This is also where I heard the great-horned owl the other week. At almost exactly the 1 mile mark is the eagle’s nest. Over the summer, I got to witness them successfully raise two young ones, so that was a treat. Always fun to see the eagles.

A sunrise near the 1 mile mark

A blooming swamp smartweed near the 1 mile mark

The trail loops around a meadow. There were tons of tree swallows nesting here, and you will see them putting on their impressive aerial displays all summer long. This was also a popular spot to see some eastern kingbirds and eastern bluebirds. I have flushed ring-necked pheasants from the trail’s edge and will occasionally hear them crowing. Later this fall, the goldenrod was beautiful.

Meadow full of goldenrod shortly after the 1 mile mark

At the 1.5 mile mark, I cross under the bridge of the Interstate and end up on the edge of Rice Lake, and now I am on the Rice Lake Trails. The bridge under the Interstate was a veritable rookery for barn and cliff swallows, and there would be dozens of them buzzing over your head as you ran through. Just out in the bay of the lake, I saw dozens of loons and a variety of ducks in the spring. This fall, the cormorants were all over the place.

Rice Lake sunrise at the 1.5 mile mark

A woolly bear caterpillar rescued somewhere between the 1.5 and 2 mile mark

From here, I head east on the trail. This is a rather diverse stretch of trail, as it starts out as a swampy lake edge and ends up running through some beautiful hardwoods, mainly maples and oaks. Along the lake edge, this was a haven for red winged blackbirds that would occasionally dive-bomb me during nesting season. Also, this seemed to be a wonderful breeding ground for song sparrows. I even saw a coyote in this area last spring. And, this is the primary location where the "woolly bear rescue mission" took place! Eventually I crest a large hill that takes me into the most heavily forested area.

Looking down the hill at approximately the 2 mile mark

There is always a lot of activity the woods. I have seen an abundance of wildlife in here, things such as catbirds, cardinals, chickadees, cedar waxwings, downy and hairy woodpeckers, squirrels, deer, bunnies (including one of my “usual” bunnies who almost always sitting in the same spot), raccoons, and also “Disco Stu.”

The trail starts going slightly downhill and I run through the woods and come out by the lakeshore once again. I end up at a bridge where a creek flows into the lake. This is exactly 2.4 miles from the start.

A view of Rice Lake at my turnaround point

I turn around and run the same route in reverse. The only difference is that as I get closer to home, I take an extra spin around the block to put me over 5 miles (5.2, to be precise). This is an enjoyable route to run, and there is always something interesting to see any season, from the height of summer to the depths of a -15 below zero day!

OK, fellow running bloggers...what say you? Let's hear about your regular routes!

Until next time,

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