From Ogden Frontrunner Station: A run along the Ogden River Trail with Patrick Ward

Location:  Ogden River Trail, Ogden, Utah
Miles:  6
Time:  10:04 am
Pace:  0:7:58
Temp:  55 degrees F
Weather:  Beautiful, sunny, shaded by much of the trail
People I saw:  Several walkers, almost all with dogs, one or two runners
Pain/injuries:  Left hamstring, some right hip action

Yesterday I received permission from work, to work remotely.  I took the opportunity to ride the Frontrunner up to Ogden, working during the morning.  I hopped off in Ogden with my friend Patrick and started looking for a place to put my bag while I went for a run (Patrick would be biking alongside me.)

We talked to a bus driver for UTA, who was kind enough to let me drop my bag off in his bus.  He would be making his rounds and meet us back in an hour, where I could pick my bag back up.  It wasn’t my favorite option, but it was really all I had.  The guy had chops and massive mustache.  He claimed to be a runner, who had done several 5ks.  As far as trustworthiness goes, that’s good enough for me.  I asked him if he could tell us where the nearest trail was.  He simply pointed northward and said, “Up there.  North end of the parking lot.”

Sure enough, at the north end of the parking lot, there was a trail, which headed north.  It mostly ran along the railroad tracks, but then veered east, toward Ogden Canyon.  This was a beautiful run.  I admit that there are probably times you don’t want to be running alone on it, but most of what I saw on my three mile stretch (all I had time for; this was technically my lunch break) was beautiful and interesting.

Along the Ogden River, this trail continues eastward, going through old neighborhoods, crosses over the river several times, via short bridges.  It can probably become easy to get lost if you don’t pay attention, because several other paths shoot off of it.  I didn’t have time to figure out where they all went, so I felt safe to stay along the river for the most part.

Strewn along the path were shopping carts, giving us the impression that the local homeless might gather at certain points.  But there were other places that seemed more welcoming and safer for would-be trail users.

This aside, I kept saying out loud, “Wow, this is great.”  It’s not my favorite trail in the world.  It’s asphalt, has no real elevation change to keep things interesting.  But that wasn’t the scope of this task.  My goal is to find decent places to run from Frontrunner.

This trail is literally next to the tracks, easily accessible and fairly safe in the daytime.  I didn’t see any drinking fountains, so you’d probably want to have water with you, if you plan to go for any considerable distance (or if you were to get lost.)

I picked up the pace for the return trip and still felt the same about my initial impressions on my way out- that this is a place I’d come to run, again.  When we got back, Patrick biked over to where he saw our bus waiting for us.  He hopped on, grabbed my backpack (and was told that the driver had to wait an extra minute for us- oops!) and brought it over to me.  When then boarded the southbound Frontrunner with five minutes to spare.

Next time, though, I’d like to have more time to head into Ogden Canyon.

On a scale of 1-10 for paved trails, I’d give it a ‘7’.  Not bad for Frontrunner accessibility.

Special thanks to Frontrunner- for being my daily trans., Patrick- for supporting this run with great pics, and Bus Driver Guy- for being the kind of guy who would take my bag for a ride in Ogden and then return it, after waiting for me.

 

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Ryan and Nathan miss Barry (and I try to wax eloquent over running)

Location:  Provo River Trail
Miles:  4.5
Time:  6:35 am
Pace:  0:8:13
Temp:  25 degrees F
Weather:  Slightly overcast
People I saw:  Ryan, that guy in black again, two women, cows (the cows are starting to take on personalities to me)
Pain/injuries:  Slight hamstring, less than yesterday

Ryan and I tend to run a little bit in place, when we’re waiting for each other to arrive for a run.  I’ve started trotting the short jaunt to his house, only because it keeps me warm until it’s time to start our run.

It felt cooler than 25 degrees when we started, although I don’t have any mistrust for the thermometer that hangs on my back door window.  When we started, I noticed that we started off at a rather quick pace (for starting).  I think we were at an 0:8:15 for a couple of miles.  I felt good enough, though, to keep it up.

We talked about missing Barry for a moment, then we spent almost the duration of the time talking about running.  This is probably what annoys non-runners the most about us:  Sometimes, when we’re not talking you non-runners’ ears off about running, we’re talking to our runner friends, while running, about running.

Which brings up a good question:  For something so simple as running appears to be, why do many runners spend so much time talking about it?  Answer:  Because to some of us, running is not simple.  It is an amazing, wonderful thing, that continues to reward us for years, with health benefits and feelings that remind (some of us) of our youth.  But for me, the thing that I spend the most time obsessing about, is how I can become a better runner.  I wonder why I hurt one day, but not the next.  I wonder why I can work hard some days, with poor results, while other days a great run or race feels almost (almost) effortless.

Running is a complicated thing, for as simple as it appears to be.  It is the combined effort of brain, heart, blood, lungs, muscles, all working in concert.  Sometimes the results of this concert are a masterpiece; sometimes they come off as an elementary school band- out of sync, out of tune and downright dreadful.

Some days I feel out of breath.  Other days I feel like I’m so sore that that day’s effort is sure to result in supreme pain, later in the day.  Sometimes the weather cooperates and other days it’s a real struggle to just get out the door after you’ve seen that frigid thermometer reading from inside the comfort of your warm abode.

And this, I think, is what makes each run different:  The combination of weather, how you feel, traffic (or not), who you run with (or a solo run), how tired you feel through the run, trying out new clothing or gear, being chased by a dog, confronted by the kids who are waiting for a bus, how low the Provo River is, whether the lake has ice on it, etc.- these are the many combinations that give each run its own personality.  The same route can deliver a unique experience, many times over.

I dispute that the treadmill can do the same.

So yes, I may run the same route (for the most part) each day.  But no run is the same.  Each run is different and each run is (usually) worth it.  Even the bad ones.  I rarely get separated from my run by more than an hour before I start to really feel glad that I did it.  Sometimes I’ll sit on the train and see other runners on the Jordan River Trail, or anywhere, and immediately wish to be transported to that path, back in my running clothes, running along and experiencing whatever joy or struggle I see in that runner.

Maybe my dad is right.  Maybe I’m a little strange.

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Back to the snow

Location:  Provo River Trail
Miles:  5
Time:  6:20 am
Pace:  0:8:50
Temp:  30 degrees F
Weather:  Overcast, cloudy, light snow/hail
People I saw:  One other guy
Pain/injuries:  Back was ok, some light/sharp knee pain, left hamstring was pretty sore

Notes:  For some reason, inclement weather isn’t hard for me to get out into.  It probably has something to do with me trying to prove something, but no one can prove it.

My first mile was sort of interesting, in that it was the first time in months that I felt snow falling and hitting my face.  Nothing much, but enough to remind me what season is boss, here.  The light snow gave way to light hail and some would inadvertently make it’s way into my mouth.  It was refreshing and memories of last year and what is to come went through my mind- It’s going to get colder and it’s going to get snowier.

I was pleased to see no other footprints in the light dusting that covered the Provo River Trail, this morning, until I realized that there actually was another set of prints, that I had overlooked.  And then it occurred to me that each snow day is race day for me.  I always try to determine, from the sets of footprints, what place I’ve come in, in terms of who got out onto the path first.  Today I came in second.

At around mile 2 I smelled a skunk very strongly and wondered what they do during the winter.  Not too much farther past this point, I ran by some cows that were resting, right by the fence on the side of the trail.  They have a huge field to occupy, but for some reason, they really like congregating in this spot in the winter.  They like watching the runners go by?

I experimented with my stride, because my left hamstring was irritating me.  Maybe because I hadn’t run in a while (because of some pretty severe back pain, after carrying some heavy boxes- another story) so it’s possible that the problem was just having taken too many days off.  But I’m sure that the truth is that, in actuality, I need to take many more days off to let this hamstring heal.  But that’s a tall order for a guy who’s about to turn 40 and wants to lose more weight.

All in all, it wasn’t a horrible run.  I kept a decent pace for how I felt and enjoyed the weather.  By the time I arrived home, the snow had stopped and the roads were slick.  I didn’t slip, but I had the impression that it would take much for me to go down hard on the road.

I’ll try to do more strengthening and see if I can rehab my hamstring.

 

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The courage to stay in bed

Location:  Home, in bed
Miles:  0.0
Time:  Early-ish
Pace:  Had some salsa, last night
Temp:  75 degrees
Weather:  Dark
People I saw:  My wife and children
Pain/injuries:  Yes

For just about over a year, I’ve wanted to start resting.  The problem, though, is breaking bad habits.  For over a year, I’ve fallen into the trap of waking up early, dressing, and then going for a moderate run.

There have been signs that I need to start resting.  As I’ve been getting older (Have I mentioned that I’m almost 40?), my muscles don’t heal like they used to.  I have various, minor injuries that, without proper rest, will likely become larger problems if I don’t take the advice of doctors and friends, who I know mean well.

And it’s not just the morning run.  Sometimes at night, while I’m watching TV, I’ll launch into a vigorous core workout.

It started innocently enough.  I’d pretend to be watching Conan with my wife, but would throw in a few calf raises at commercial break.  Things deteriorated and now it’s gotten to where, I execute donkey kicks, scorpions, hip hikers and even modified side planks with leg lifts.  Sometimes this can go for upwards of an hour.

There are signs of improvement, though.  Even though I’d set my alarm last night to wake me up at 6 am (one of the many habits that will, if not guarded, turn you into a runner), I sat up in bed and hesitated.  I knew that if I put my feet over the side of the bed, I’d just fall back into the same routine and go for a run, putting my left hamstring at greater risk.

But something happened.  I slowly rocked backward, swinging my legs back over the bed and slipped under the warm covers.  I even slept a little.

At 7 am, when I got up to take my shower and get the day going, it felt good to know that I’d accomplished something important, which not a lot of obsessed runners do.  This morning I found the courage to stay in bed.

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Ryan ties his shoes. Again.

Location:  Provo River Trail
Miles:  4.5
Time:  6:35 am
Pace:  0:9:08
Temp:  20 degrees
Weather:  Slightly cloudy on horizon
People I saw:  Ran with Ryan, saw a guy who refuses to wave- must fix this.
Pain/injuries:  Some left groin pain, which was getting better, but the progress is receding, again.

Notes:  Yesterday I carried some very heavy boxes, full of food for members of our church who are having a tough time, financially.  This was hard on me, as I don’t life, bro.  My back needs more planks and more core work.  That said, I was tired when we started this run.

I told Ryan, straight off, that I was not feeling fast, today.  He was affable and allowed me to drag us down to a 0:9:00 minute pace.  However, he did his part to slow us down, when he stopped to tie his shoe.  I can never tell if tying the shoe is a ploy to rest, or just a lack of knot experience.  Geez, Ryan.

Barry did not grace us with his presence, this morning.  I am willing to bet that we’ll get him out for another couple of cold runs, this winter, though.  It might take some doing, but we’ll do it.

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The great rebellion of the ducks

Location:  Provo River Trail, down to North Jetty
Miles:  6 miles
Time:  0:48:55
Pace:  0:8:15
Temp:  15
Weather:  Mostly clear, moon slivered
People I saw:  One other guy, dressed head to toe, plus a walker

Notes:  Today I wasn’t feeling it.  Even when I was putting my running clothes stack together, last night, I was sort of dreading this run.  It’s interesting how close the run seems to me, the night before.  I have to be in bed by 11 pm, or else it’s almost a guarantee that I won’t have enough sleep for the next day.

I managed an 0:8:47 for my first mile, but just didn’t feel great.  Nothing in particular, but energy, stiff muscles- not working in my favor.  So I spent the first couple of miles talking myself into this run.

It definitely wasn’t as cold as yesterday, but it was cold enough.  At one point in this run, about a hundred ducks, all perched on the freezing river, took me by surprise when they started quacking loudly.  This is always a little creepy for me, this early in the morning, in the dark.  It’s hard to explain, but the morning calm is shattered and my heart speeds up.  My stride speeds up, too.  It’s like my body reacts to a chase.

I don’t trust those ducks.

There was no doubt in my mind that I was going too fast.  Recently I read (have I already mentioned this- forgive me- short term blog memory) that you need to get your base mileage up before you start worrying about things like hill, speed, interval workouts.  The logic is that people don’t have a high enough base mileage.

 

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Strong legs at 3 am

Reagan, while I’m tucking her back into bed, at 3 am:

“Daddy, your legs look really strong.”

It’s pitch black.

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11 degrees of bliss

Location:  Provo River Trail
Miles:  1 mile warmup, 5 miles run with Ryan.
Time:  Started at 6:23 am
Pace:  0:8:58
Temp:  11 degrees
Weather:  Cold and clear
People I saw:  Ran with Ryan

Ryan and I started our run without Barry.  He felt that the idea was bollocks.  He wasn’t wrong.  But we ran, anyway.  The thing that made this run a little unique was how many ducks we saw.  They were all in the water, splashing around.  When we’d run by them, they’d make all kinds of noise, carrying on.

With my extra layering (added a balaclava, a tight shirt and another pair of tights) I felt considerably warmer than yesterday.  I have hope that I can come up with a combination of clothing that will suffice for those 0 or even less than 0 days.

It took me slightly less time to become completely warmed up (was warm by 9 am).

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Cold and dark (but mostly cold) (but also very, very dark)

I started running about two hours ago.  My run has been over for more than an hours.  My hands, ears, chin and butt are still cold.  It will take another two or more hours to really feel warm, again.  This is cold weather running.

Woke up, much too early.  Had set my alarm 15 minutes earlier for 6 am, so that I could slip another mile in.  But woke up at 5:30 am, anyway.  Dang.  Felt good enough to just start getting ready, though.

Went out the door and was hit hard by the change in weather.  It’s cooling off, folks.  This is where the runners start going their separate ways.  Some to the treadmill, others to the periodic gym workout and the rest hibernate and call it a season.  Then there are those like me, who, after years of trying the off and on running schedule realize we have only been fooling ourselves.  If we’re going to run, we’re going to need to go year ’round.  And if we’re going to go year ’round, we’re never going to make it on treadmills.  We’re going to just have to make this work with whatever warm clothes we find.  Some of us cold weather runners know that as soon as we start to drop workouts, we’re going to go into hibernation with the rest of our runner siblings.  And some of us can’t afford this.  Some of us are about to turn forty and have very lofty goals.  But some of us digress…

The first mile was disconcerting.  It’s hard to remember whether or not I’ll ever warm up when it’s 10 degrees.  I wore a technical T, technical long sleeve, my Costco Paradox long sleeve with a zipper that comes up halfway on my neck, my new running jacket, my Underarmor underwear, my thick tights, Injinji toe socks (to prevent blistering), gloves, somewhat warm NHL Sharks hat and…that’s it.  My winter ensemble almost creates its own load of wash.

Once I got down to the end of the third mile to turn around, I was cold and knew that I just needed to concentrate on not stopping or slowing down.  The last two miles were tough, because I was still tired from Saturday’s run and knew that my body was supposed to be recovering today, not working too hard.  But it was definitely working harder than normal.

When I get home from these cold runs, it’s all about getting warmed up.  The shower can only do about 1/2 of the job.  After that, it’s just time.

It’s a whole different thing, running in these Utah winters.

Location: Provo River Trail, down most of the North jetty’s arm
Miles:  6.1
Time:  5:57 am
Pace:  0:8:35
Temp:  10 degrees, F.
Weather:  Clear and cold
People I saw:  One other runner, at my mile 5 (I waved; no response.  It is too cold for formalities)

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The Bonneville Shoreline Trail, in the SLC

Today found me at work on a Saturday.  But I managed to get out for a couple of hours, to explore more of the trail that had me enamored last winter.  I have already run the stretch of the BST, from Spanish Fork, to Provo…but on the recommendation of a friend from work, I headed up to the Hogle Zoo, to see what some of the SLC BST could provide.  I was not disappointed.

Spent some time thinking about my sister, Lindsay, on this run.  She is such an inspiration to me and a great example of what hard work accomplishes.  I’ll never be as fast or as dedicated as she is, but having her around as an example helps me to focus on the smaller goals that I have in running.  Anyway…

There were some brutal hills involved in this run.  I think that if I were to concentrate on hills each week, I could get to where I can run this route without walking.  But that would be a huge accomplishment, because I had to walk.  A lot.

Location:  BST, from Hogle Zoo, to the Red Butte Creek
Miles:  6.5
Time:  2:45 pm
Running time:  1:28:03
Pace:  0:13:29
Temp:  32 at start, colder when I finished (sun was going down)
Weather:  Overcast and cold
People I saw:  Surprisingly, there were several runners and bikers on this trail.  I have a feeling these guys go strong through all four seasons.

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