Saturday, March 25, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Funning - aka The Week of Green Laundry

I did last week's laundry and noticed that almost everything in it was green. I did St. Patrick's Day runs with two different running clubs, a happy hour on the actual St. Patty's day, and a race the day after. On each occasion I wore one or more green garments. Because the weather was cold, I also had to layer on the green.

Green Run #1 - Tuesday, 3/14/17

The Columbus Westside Running Club hosted its second annual St. Patrick's day run on our regular night. It was the season's first run in daylight, thanks to the time change. But even though it was light out, it was still freezing cold; temperatures were in the low 20s F, and windy. Club members came all decked out in their St. Patty's Day green, and if they didn't have any green, Tracy gave them some sort of green novelty to wear. After a group photo, we were off to do our usual laps around Westgate Park. It was a slow, easy recovery run for me, having just run a marathon three days prior.

CWRC St. Patty's Run - yes, that's snow

After the run some of us headed out to Dirty Frank's West, a popular local hotdog joint (with another location downtown). It's not a place I would have ever considered, as I'm a vegetarian. But at Dirty Frank's you can get any of their creative combos with a veggie dog, and several of the dogs can be made vegan. I had a "Sarva's Tat-cho Dog" which had cheese sauce, jalapeƱos and, drumroll: tater tots. Yes tater tots on the dog. It was pretty darn good and Dirty Franks also had a selection of local craft brews.

CWRC fearless leader Carl and the crew at Dirty Frank's

I enjoyed getting to socialize with CWRC members, as in the past it's been dark and cold after runs and everyone would go straight home afterward. I call this a very fun and successful Green Run.

Green Run #2 - Thursday, 3/16/17

The next event was not only a St. Patrick's Day run, but also the 200th running of the Short North Running Club. Those were two great reasons to celebrate. This week we met at Zeno's in Victorian Village. I walked in and didn't see very many people wearing green. I had gone a little crazy with my sparkly green skirt and shamrock sunglasses. It wasn't until Brian started handing out green beads that I felt less conspicuous. A couple other people wore green too; I guess the group is just not used to costume runs.

Looking a little out of place until more green-clad runners arrived

This week's run was going to be on the shorter side (about 2.5 miles) and include 4 drink checks at member's houses. It was a fun run that stayed in the Short North, crossing High Street for the first drink check (an Irish Car Bomb), then back over to Victorian Village for the second stop (a black & tan), the third stop (a green Jello shot, which I skipped), and the last stop at Brian's house. Brian did it right, with full cans of Genesee, corned beef sandwiches (of course I abstained), and a fire pit in his back yard. This was good, because it was cold outside and everyone started huddling closer to the fire as the sun went down. When the mini-party at Brian's fizzled out and we were too cold to hang around outdoors, we ran back to the bar for a while.

Drink Check #1: Irish Car Bomb (don't worry, nothing was full-sized)
Drink Check #2: Black & Tan
Revelers at Drink Check #2
Drink Check #4: Genesee and a fire pit
The crew at Drink Check #4

There was a good turnout for this run and it was fun to meet more members. I maintained a pretty decent pace up until the last drink check. My last leg back to the bar was slower, understandably. It was a fun Green Run and I hope the SNRC does some more themed runs.

Green Run #3 - Saturday, 3/18/17

The last Green Run of the week was a race. I met CWRC members Tracy and Sally at the St. Patrick's Day 4 Miler at Kinsale up in Powell. This was an evening race with a big after party in a tent at the golf club. This area was not developed when I used to live in Columbus. It was farmland and empty lots. Now the suburban sprawl has gone quite far north in Powell and I didn't recognize much of anything. The golf club was in a neighborhood full of large, newer houses. I was able to park about a quarter mile down the street and pick up my packet before the race.

The start/finish line 
Ready to go selfie
Tracy, Sally & Sandy pre-race

There was a little drizzle before the race, and it was cold. I wore a short-sleeved shirt over a long-sleeved shirt and this worked out fine for running, but I would need the fleece I brought for afterward. There were a lot of people dressed up in green, with fancy socks, fun hats & headbands, etc. It was a festive atmosphere.

The run started out on the subdivision streets and then crossed over to the golf course where we ran on the golf cart trails. I can't say the scenery was all that special unless you like suburban houses and golf greens on a dreary day (at least it didn't rain during the race). But, like all M3S races, it was very well supported. There were rolling hills on the golf course and I did more walking than I should have. I forgot my Garmin, so I didn't know my pace and my walk breaks were too frequent and too long. My time still wasn't that bad, so I could possibly have PR'd if I'd walked less and been aware of my pace.

Yup, it's a suburban golf course

In the last half mile I ran a little bit with Sally. She was just running, but I was run/walking, so we'd leap-frog each other. The last stretch of the course was back out on the road, uphill, and into the wind. It kind of kicked my butt, but Sally mustered some energy for a really strong finish. I crossed the mat just a little bit after her. And then we chatted while we waited for Tracy to finish. I was starting to freeze so I had to go back to the tent and get my fleece and my jacket. Sally and Tracy met me there shortly afterward and we hung around while drinking our post-race beers. I think the party fizzled out a little early because of the weather. That's too bad, because they had a great selection of beer and there was a food vendor with some options to refuel.

Tracy, Sally & Sandy post-race
Race shirt and medal
I had a good time at Kinsale, but I'm not sure if I'll run this one again. It's a bit of a drive and not that interesting of a course to repeat. But who knows? The Green Run St. Patty's theme was great and so was the party, even if the weather didn't quite cooperate.

So, there's the story of my Green Runs from last week, and now it's pretty evident why I had so much green laundry.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

2017 Rock 'n' Roll DC Marathon Race Report

I finished the 2017 Rock 'n' Roll DC Marathon on Saturday. It wasn't pretty, I wasn't fast, but I got it done. This was my first time running this full marathon. In past years I did the half marathon three times and the 5K once. I'm not normally a big fan of Rock 'n' Roll races; they're just too expensive and over-hyped. But when it's local and you can get an early-bird registration, why not? I registered for this one last year before I knew I was moving.

Nice medal

This was a quick weekend trip. I booked the travel before my move and was lucky enough to use Southwest points for my flight and to redeem a free night for my hotel, therefore only paying for one of the two nights I stayed. I needed to stay near a Metro station since I wasn't going to have a car. I chose the Ballston neighborhood.

The night before the race I didn't sleep well. I kept waking up about every hour. I was not comfortable, and I was also nervous about the cut-off time for the marathon. Rock 'n' Roll DC advertises a cut-off of 5:30 and has intermediate reroutes or detours for runners at the back of the pack who fall behind. I was undertrained and out of shape, and I knew this was a hilly course, so I was worried.

Race morning I got dressed in layers. The temperature was in the 20s fahrenheit. It wasn't going to get out of the mid-30s all day. And there would be wind. Cooler temperatures are good for running, but not quite this cold. I don't do well in very cold temperatures; my muscles never seem to warm up. I wore tights, a running skirt, a winter-weight mock-neck shirt (thanks, Marine Corps Marathon), a sweatshirt (which I thought I might toss at some point), a lined windbreaker, two pairs of socks, an ear-warmer and a fleece hat. I was bundled up for sure! I took a taxi to the start because Metro was not running early enough to get the full marathoners there.

Walking to the start, the Washington Monument looks great in the pre-dawn sky

The starting line on Constitution Avenue

I got to the start about an hour early and stayed warmish by walking around, having some hot chocolate from the Dunkin Donuts truck (thank you, DD!), and looking for friends. I saw Melissa and Peter and said hello as they were on their way to bag check, then I found Kristen, and later we found JC. I didn't see everyone I was looking for, but it was hard to recognize people all bundled up. Many runners were wrapped up in blankets and had their faces covered.

With Peter and Melissa; yes my ear warmer AND hat look dorky, but I didn't care, and both stayed on for the entire race
With Kristen and JC

This was the first year that the full marathon started before the half marathon. In the past all the runners shared the same corrals and went out at the same time. The new arrangement was an attempt to get the full marathon started early but allow half marathoners to use Metro because they were starting an hour and a half later. There are many more half marathoners than full marathoners, so the start corral looked rather empty compared with previous years. Kristen and I started out together but I knew I wouldn't be able to stick with her because I was slower and needed to do my walk breaks. We said goodbye on Independence Ave.

So, here I was, not alone per se, but also not running with any friends. My face was freezing, my toes were numb, and I was less than a mile into the race. I had left my Garmin charging back at the hotel. That meant not only would I not know my distance, but I wouldn't know what time it was, and I had no device to signal me for regular walk breaks. I was on my own to pace myself and to figure out when to walk. I was worried that I would be too lax. The one thing I did know was that Kristen and I crossed the starting mat about 3 minutes after gun time, so I could check my time at each mile marker on the official clocks, subtracting 3 minutes.

Blurry pic with Eddie on Rock Creek Parkway
Lien got this pic of Eddie and me without realizing it was me; I've got a sweatshirt and a jacket around my waist, and I'm glad I had all the layers because I made multiple wardrobe adjustments depending on wind conditions

On Rock Creek Parkway I found Eddie, the Barefoot Bandito. It had been a while since I saw Eddie. I didn't run very many marathons last year, so I couldn't remember when I saw him last. He was running barefoot, as usual, and I felt bad for his frozen feet. After I saw Eddie, I came upon the Blue Mile and the long and steep hill that led us up and out to the Woodley Park neighborhood. This was the worst hill on the first half of the course, and it was a doozy. I planned to run/walk it, but I didn't have it in me. I had to walk the steep portion. Then we got into Columbia Heights and the rolling hills. In the past, Harvard Street had been the party street during this race, with lots of neighbors out with beer and shots. Today I only saw one group of people passing out champagne, and because it was so early in my race, I had to tell them "thanks...but I can't".

Just after Mile 12 the full course split off from the half course, so I was in uncharted territory for this race. I knew that the back half of the course wasn't as nice as the first half, but I had never experienced it for myself. The last scenic view was a nice peek at the Capitol.

Nice view of the east side of the US Capitol
Nationals Park

We ran past Nationals Park and then over to Anacostia. I had to make a port-o-potty break before hitting this bridge, and with all those layers on, this cost me 5 minutes or more; I don't know because I had no watch. After that, we started on a long out & back section of the course adjacent to Bolling AFB (or should I say Joint Base Anacostia Bolling). I saw Eddie again, but he would be the last familiar face I saw all day. This stretch of road was concrete, desolate, no spectators, boring, hellish, need I say more? It sucked. And it really sucked when I was heading "back" on the out & back section and saw the sweeper vehicles on the "out" side of the road. They were a couple miles behind me, thank goodness. I knew that there were some spots where course officials would reroute slower runners who were behind pace, but I didn't know exactly where these were. Without my Garmin I had no way of knowing my exact distance. So I made it my religion to count every mile marker and 5K marker. Several of the timing clocks had blown over and had no power, so that meant I didn't know my time. But I saw every sign, so that was good, and they seemed like they were spaced properly, so that was a relief. That meant I was running the certified course. I knew that there was a lollipop-shaped mile at the Anacostia Skating Park, and this was one of the loops that was coned-off for slower runners in past years. I was so relieved to have made it to this part of the course without being detoured. I was frozen, sore, in quite a mental state, but I was on the right track. This was between Miles 20 and 21.

After the lollipop we ran through a neighborhood and then into Fort Dupont Park. I had no idea that a national park existed in this part of town, I bet it's a pretty park when there are leaves on the trees and the community garden is blooming. But to me on this day, the park was hell. It was super hilly, and there was even a steep hill like the one in Woodley Park. The park without greenery was drab and boring. I walked a lot up these hills and ran as fast as I had it in me for the downhills. Eventually we made it to Mile 24 and I knew I had run the certified course and was no longer in danger of being rerouted. I felt a little lightheaded, so I walked the last mile and a half. There were quite a few of us trudging along at this point. We were slow, but we were determined. There was a long bridge in the last mile and the wind kicked up. The last mile sucked, but at least I knew it was the last one.

Finally, the finish chute was in sight, and just before the finish line was a corridor of spectators that I ran through, getting high-fives on both sides. And then it was over. I got my medal. I needed food; I hadn't had enough calories during the race, and that's why I felt lightheaded. I never drink the chocolate milk at the end of races, but I did on this day. That, and the Popcorners chips helped a lot.

A couple years ago the Rock 'n' Roll series began giving out Finisher Jackets for full marathoners only. I earned one this year, so I went off to find the jacket tent. It's not a super high-quality jacket, but I wanted mine. I didn't realize until I got back to the hotel that they gave me a men's large. I don't know if they ran out of women's sizes or if this was a mistake, so I'll send an email and find out if there's any way I can exchange my jacket.

I went over to the beer tent. Even though it was freezing - literally (proper use of the word "literally") - I still wanted my watery Michelob Ultra beer. I earned it. I drank my beer while chatting with a couple from San Antonio; they were definitely not used to running in cold temps!

With medal and finisher jacket on the Metro

I didn't finish my beer, but that's OK. I needed to get to the Metro, back to the hotel, and get some real food. The warmth on the Metro car was such a relief! I had a direct ride back to Ballston. I passed Potbelly on the walk to the hotel, so I grabbed a sandwich to go. And I ate my sandwich while soaking in a hot bath.

This will very likely be my last Rock 'n' Roll DC race. I know I don't ever want to run the full marathon again. There are so many other marathons I'd rather do. And I may not ever run the half marathon again, since I no longer live there. I'm glad I did the marathon once though, and I'm giving myself extra credit for doing this one while undertrained and in the awful cold. I did not finish in under 5:30, but they were generous with the time limit on this day. Apparently they didn't start the cut-off clock ticking until a full hour after gun time. I checked my results and there is a record of me crossing all the timing mats, and I saw all the mile markers, so I know I did it. This race was a training run for other spring marathons I have on the calendar, so I met my goal.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Camp Chase Trail Clean-Up

Posting a little late on this, but a couple weeks ago the Columbus Westside Running Club (CWRC) organized a trail clean-up day. Every 4th Saturday the club works on a different section of the Camp Chase Trail. The trail is fairly new, but it borders on railroad tracks and the backs of businesses that don't all keep their properties clean. Parts of the trail have been used by people who litter - a lot!

The idea is to get this trail looking clean and beautiful in order to increase recreational usage of the trail. It's a great place for cycling, running, walking, etc. But it does need some help to beautify it.

Group shot of participants after our two hours of trail clean-up

The day I went out for my first trail clean-up was about the coldest one we had in February, which had gotten unseasonably warm weather. On this day we were quite bundled up and there were even snow flurries while we worked, so it was cold.

CWRC has some partners for these clean-ups. Our club's new sponsor, Kroger at Consumer Square, provided water, Gatorade, bananas, granola bars and hand sanitizer, like they are providing for our group runs. Yay, Kroger! Other partners included , Summer Jam West, Friends of the Hilltop, Friends of Camp Chase Trail, Abundant Life Tabernacle and KEEP COLUMBUS BEAUTIFUL. Truly a community effort!

I'm ready to get dirty
Supplies from Kroger
We all got to wear these fabulous vests; I thought we looked like inmates

We all put on our protective gloves and reflective vests, grabbed a bucket, a "grabber" and some bags. I set out on my own and made it my job to pick up small objects. I found probably 200 cigarette butts (yuck), a syringe, scrap metal, broken glass in green, amber, clear and eventually blue, and other miscellaneous garbage. It takes a while to pick up the broken glass shards from the grass and dirt. It also takes awhile to pick up the multitude of cigarette butts from the places where people obviously take smoke breaks. I didn't even fill a bag, but I spent my time cleaning up all that little stuff.

Part of the trail where we worked, looking east
Mural on the back of the Abundant Life Tabernacle

Others in the group stuffed bags full of trash, found tires, and other large objects. In total, the group picked up 95 bags worth of trash, filling one and a half dumpsters. And that was just in a small section of the trail about a quarter of a mile long.

It felt good to get out and do something for the community and the local trail. I hope these efforts pay off and we see more people using the trail come spring. Would you like to help? Then "like" the CWRC Facebook page and you'll see the event notices.

Friday, March 3, 2017

My Second New Running Club

I'm still running on Tuesday nights with the Columbus Westside Running Club and I'm happy to be part of that community. And now I've added Thursday night runs with Short North Running Club (SNRC). This club has a different vibe. It's a little bit of a younger crowd and they meet at a different bar and run a different route each week.

Last week was my first run with the Short North Running Club. The Short North was my neighborhood before I moved to the DC area. I don't live there now, and the area has changed a LOT since I left Columbus. But I'm happy to return to my old 'hood for some runs and beers. The SNRC doesn't run exclusively in the Short North, but they stick to centrally located Columbus neighborhoods.

The run last week set out from Brew-Stirs Clintonville Tavern. It was warm, but began raining before we started. Still, we headed south on High Street with a route that would take us along the Ohio State campus, then east to Indianola Ave, back north to Tulane and with a finish back at BrewStir's. The sky opened up and started pouring shortly after we started, but that's not all - there was thunder and lightning too! Less than a mile into the 4 mile route I was questioning the sanity of running in a thunderstorm with visible lightning. But it didn't seem to stop the other runners (almost everyone was faster than me, so I could see them keep running ahead). With a "what the hell" attitude, I kept going.

The route I ran in the thunderstorm

It didn't take long for my clothes and shoes to become completely soaked. There was so much rain that there was flooding on the sidewalks. But after I accepted the fact that I was going to be wet, I just went with it. Another runner and I did decide to cut east early on Lane Ave rather than on 12th as planned. The excuse was to get out of the storm sooner. But I still got 3.5 miles done that day, and I had fun doing it! The SNRC sometimes has "beer checks" along their routes, and there was one this night at Dan's house, toward the end of the route. We stood in his yard drinking Old Milwaukee and socializing, as the rain had mostly stopped by then. After the beer check the bar was only a short run away, and soaking wet, we all hung out in the bar enjoying some beer and chatting. It was a fun group of people.

Group photo on Dan's porch at the beer check

Last night I ran with the SNRC for the second time. This time we met at Knotty Pine Brewing in Grandview. The route was set at just over 5 miles. It had snowed earlier, and at the time of the run the temperatures were in the low 30Fs. I deemed it too cold and dark for 5 miles, and I wasn't the only one to shorten my route to 3.5 miles. Knotty Pine was a great venue with their own beer, as well as several other local and regional craft beers. I'd actually been there before, so I knew what to expect. After my run I sat at the bar and chatted for a while with Brian, the founder of the club.

The planned route on the cold, dark night
And the route I actually ran

Enjoying a smoked porter at Knotty Pine

I have really enjoyed my first two runs with the Short North Running Club, in spite of less-than-perfect weather both times. I like the idea of running a different route each time to see more of the city. And I really like the part about enjoying good beer with good people after the runs. The club is planning for their St. Patrick's Day run coming up in two weeks. It sounds like there will be a little less running and a little more drinking, but that will be just about right for St. Patty's.

I'll keep running with both of my new running clubs. There are good things about each of them, and good people in both clubs. Of course, most runners are pretty good peeps, so that's really no surprise.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Medal Mania

Before my move only some of my medals were hung on the wall. One of my medal racks wasn't anchored well and fell down, and I never re-hung the medals that were on it. But I kept adding new medals to the racks that were hanging, and they became quite overloaded. So I decided I needed an additional rack before hanging all my medals in the new place. It arrived this week, and I hung everything today.

My completed medal hanging project with expansion available for 2017 and beyond
Some races have coins instead of medals; here's my trophy case with coin collection (only some of the coins are race coins)

Some people "run for the bling" and other people donate all their earned medals to charities like Medals 4 Mettle, or to gold star military families in honor of the fallen. I'm in the middle of this spectrum. I won't lie: I have been nudged to run a race or two after seeing the medal or of hearing legend of the medal. I used to be incentivized by challenge medals (run two races in one weekend, earn three medals) and I do have my share of those. The medal is less important to me than it used to be, but I still enjoy earning them. Every medal hanging on my wall comes with a memory. Having the visual reminder within easy access is somewhat comforting to me. I am not sentimental with a lot of things, but I am with my medals. I'm not a collector of many things, but I do keep my medals.


When I set out to hang my medals today I had to decide how to group them. I have five medal racks, and each can hold quite a few medals if they're hung in layers. Did I want to fill up the racks evenly, or did I want to leave room for expansion? Did I want to hang the medals chronologically, by distance, or by location? Did some medals deserve to be spotlighted above others?

I chose chronological grouping without placing greater importance on any one medal. I counted my medals from each year and evenly distributed them across four of the racks, leaving the fifth rack for 2017 and beyond. I have the following quantities of medals by year:

  • 2005 - 2
  • 2006 - 3
  • 2011 - 3
  • 2012 - 47
  • 2013 - 35
  • 2014 - 35
  • 2015 - 18
  • 2016 - 24
  • 2017 - 1
An interesting distribution, no? Here's how my racing resume supports my medal inventory:
  • I started running in 2004, training for my first marathon: the 2005 Mardi Gras Marathon. Then I also ran the Dublin Marathon in 2005. (2 medals)
  • In 2006 I ran Columbus Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon and St. Jude Memphis Half Marathon. Incidentally, I qualified for the Marathon Maniacs this year without even knowing the club existed. (3 medals)
  • From 2007 through 2010 I took time off from distance racing. At first I was recovering from plantar fasciitis and didn't run at all. Then I came back and only ran shorter distances: mostly 5Ks, with some 10Ks and 10 Milers thrown in. But not much racing, and no races with medals. (0 medals)
  • In mid 2011 I decided to get back into distance races and in the fall I ran the Hartford Half Marathon, the Marine Corps 10K and a virtual Veteran's Day race. Although I have never run another virtual, and I don't really like the idea of buying a medal for a training run, back in 2011 it was novel and it was an incentive to run 11K. Also this year, I was introduced to the Marathon Maniacs and joined based on my 2006 qualifying races. (3 medals)
  • By 2012 I was back. I had an aggressive plan (for me) to run 6 marathons in 6 months from January through June. First on the list was the Walt Disney World Marathon, and in fact, I was registered for the Goofy Challenge. I completed all 6 of the planned marathons, while also running several half marathons and shorter races. I qualified for the Half Fanatics in February of this year. In the fall, I went crazy running my first (but not last) "double": two marathons in two days. I tagged along with Scot on many of his double weekends as he was working on his goal of earning Titanium in the Marathon Maniacs. (47 medals, a handful of them challenge or bonus medals)
  • In 2013 I was still trying to keep up with Scot (a little bit). And at one point I realized I could earn Titanium (30 marathons in different states/provinces/countries within 365 days), so I added more marathons in more new states to my schedule. I earned Titanium status in August. (35 medals)
  • In 2014 I focused on knocking off new states, as I was getting closer and closer to becoming a 50 States Marathon Club finisher. I ended the year at 48 states with the last two scheduled for 2015. (35 medals)
  • In May of 2015 I finished my 50th state marathon in Oregon. This year I deliberately chose to run fewer races, and it shows in my medal count. (18 medals)
  • For 2016 I wanted to focus on adding international races and World Marathon Majors to my schedule. These were more expensive events and so I didn't schedule as many marathons. But I did run several half marathons and shorter races. Many of these were local or regional races, or in Columbus where I had family to stay with. (24 medals)
So far we're almost two months into 2017 and I've only run one race, and it came with a medal. I have several marathons and half marathons on my calendar for this year, and I'm sure more will follow. I expect this year's medal count to be on par with 2015: probably no more than 20. We'll see.

Jack helped me with the medal project - of course he did

Monday, February 20, 2017

Camp Chase Trail Preview

In my new neighborhood I live only a quarter mile from the Camp Chase Trail, a multi-use trail in Columbus OH that is part of the larger Ohio to Erie Trail system that runs from Cincinnati to Cleveland. The Camp Chase Trail could take me to downtown Columbus via a connector to the Scioto Trail if I wanted to do that (it's not far, I just don't know the distance or exactly how to make the connection). I finally made it out to check out my segment of the Camp Chase Trail on Sunday afternoon.

No outlet unless you use the trail, which runs at the end of this street near the Westgate neighborhood, where my brother lives

The trail segment near me is new and doesn't have a lot of use just yet. From talking to others, I got the feeling that the trail could be a little unsafe as some of the neighborhoods it runs through are not runner friendly, and there are some homeless people on the trail. I decided to make my first introduction to the trail on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, a time that I suspected to be peak time for runners and cyclists.

Where I started on the trail near Georgesville Rd, looking to the northeast; the Hollywood Casino is to my left (didn't see my finger in the frame with the sun)

First impressions:

  • It's a nice trail, recently paved in asphalt and wider than most multi-use trails I've used in the Washington DC area.
  • It needs some mile markers and directional signage at some of the turn-offs. There was one point where I didn't know which way to go when the trail split; I chose correctly this time. Since the trail is new, maybe these things are to come.
  • While the trail itself was mostly clean, the areas adjacent to it were overrun with litter. The backside of the casino was the worst, and this area is fenced off from the trail, so you'd need to drive way out in the casino parking lot to access it for clean-up.
  • It was quite desolate, at least near me. In the two mile stretch that I walked (from Georgesville Rd to W Broad St), I only saw 5 cyclists, 0 runners, 2 skateboarding teenagers, and a few walkers who were not walking for exercise, but more to get from point A to point B. I was alone most of the time, and with the curves on the trail, with no one in sight. 
  • I did feel slightly uneasy a couple times due to some shady characters I saw on the trail who were definitely not there for physical recreation. And I heard a couple voices in the woods but I couldn't see them. Therefore, even on a bright Sunday afternoon, the trail is a little questionable for a solo female.

The view standing on the railroad bridge over West Broad St looking east; if you squint you just might see some of the Columbus skyline

I very much want to get to know this trail and incorporate it into my runs. Maybe it will be better once it becomes more well-known. Maybe there will be more people out there in the spring and summer. Maybe I will buy some pepper spray just in case. I'm not used to feeling unsafe on a trail. The trails in the DC area are fairly well trafficked and I was almost never completely alone. Or if I was alone, there were nearby houses or businesses, or other populated places to find safety. The Camp Chase trail is different, and I hope traffic picks up because I do most of my training runs alone and would love to use this trail.

The trail runs behind the Hollywood Casino; on my way back I cut through the casino parking lot

My running club is participating in a trail clean-up this Saturday, so it will give me a chance to see more of the trail and maybe learn about the best times and places to run.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

My New Running Club

Since moving to Columbus I've run three times with the Columbus Westside Running Club (CWRC), a short drive from home. They run at Westgate Park on Tuesday nights. It has been dark and/or cold for every run so far, so it's hard to meet people. I remember the names of a handful of runners. I'm sure I'll get to know more of them when the weather is better and people stick around longer after the runs.

Unlike other running clubs that run a fixed distance each time, CWRC runs for an hour starting at 6:30, and each person completes as many 1.2 mile loops around the park as they want. Some incorporate intervals into their workout. Some members are walkers. Each week the club rotates having the walkers and runners do loops in opposite directions, so you pass and can high-five people along the way. The first week I was unfamiliar with the trail (and also couldn't find my headlamp) and didn't want to run alone, so I ran with Dixie, who is close to my pace. It was nice to have someone to talk to. The second week I ran a little bit with Karen, but she's faster than me, so after a while I had to let her run ahead. But by this time I knew the trail and also had my headlamp.

A few CWRC members chatting after my second run with the club

All decked out in my reflective gear and headlamp

Last night I ran with Carl, the club president. He's faster than me but he slowed to my pace in order to chat about the Bataan Memorial Death March marathon, which he will be running next month. He knew I had run it in 2014 and read my blog, and wanted to ask some questions about gear and approaches to the big hill. It was nice to share my thoughts on one of the most incredible events I have ever run. Carl has been training hard and expects to be slower than his normal marathon time. I think he's going to do great. His girlfriend Becca, also in the club, will be running the shorter Bataan event. I say shorter, because it's not exactly a half marathon; it's a little bit longer than a half. Both are challenging courses and will be very meaningful experiences for Carl and Becca. I look forward to hearing about their races in March.

This is Westgate Park in the Hilltop area of Columbus, and where CWRC meets on Tuesdays. We run the perimeter of the park and since it's been dark every time, I don't have a clue what the park really looks like. See the street running north of the "M" in "Meet here"? That's my brother's street; he lives just a half block away. He's not a runner, but he doesn't mind if I stop by after my run to share a beer with him.
My running has not been consistent since my move. It wasn't consistent before my move either. I'm not quite in a routine yet. I haven't fully unpacked and nothing is hung on the walls yet. And I'm still looking for a job. The unknown elements of my life and the stress that they bring haven't been helpful to me in getting into a routine. But I'm trying to get into the habit of running on Tuesdays with CWRC. I need to get consistent with other workouts too. One step at a time, I guess. I'm happy to be part of a club that was been welcoming to me and I look forward to getting to know more of the members and participating in community events with them.