Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Greetings from the soggy running trail

If you're anything like me, news of the upcoming weather forecast (highs in the upper 30s this week with sunshine all around) brought about the mindset to ditch the treadmill and get those running shoes on the pavement.

It hasn't been the most inviting winter for outdoor running. Snow storms have left trails covered in ice and snow, high winds have been demoralizing and temperatures have been cold throughout the season. Granted, this sort of weather is pretty common in Minnesota. Maybe it's just me, but it seemed like winter this year was even worse than normal weather-wise. I know I wasn't the only exercise enthusiast forced to do most of their running indoors this winter.

In any event, the tundra of winter is getting ready to make way for the green of spring. And after months of being stuck on a treadmill, I decided to take my cardio to an outdoor setting. I jumped on the Red Jacket trail at the YMCA today hoping to squeeze in an 8-10-mile run and scope out part of the marathon course. The weather was certainly inviting, as the sun was shining and temperatures were warm enough where I could get by with shorts and a long-sleeve t-shirt. Heck, my iPod even managed to stay charged for the duration of the run, meaning temperatures might even be drifting toward tropic levels.

The trail has been kept fairly clear in town. There are a few soggy areas here and some ice patches there, but overall I found it very easy to run on. I saw a fair amount of other runners and walkers enjoying the trail as well, providing further proof that people are coming out of winter hibernation. However, the trail becomes unmaintained (read: unplowed) right around Weagel Park, thus making running or walking difficult from that point onward.

Rather than turn back at that point, I took a left onto Indian Lake Road and followed it all the way to where it meets with County Road 90 (it wound up being about a 7-mile run). While it wasn't part of the marathon course, this change in direction actually offered a pretty good setting for running: no traffic, no hills, dirt roads and not much ice to be wary of.

So, in case any prospective marathon runners are curious, the roads and trails in town are just fine for getting some trails miles in. But practice on the marathon course will have to wait for awhile.

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