I ended the week with a group long run in Lynn Woods Reservation. It was cool, almost cold when I arrived at the park gate at 7:45am. I was joining Jay and Dan on their final long run before the Vermont 50. We waited a little while to see if any other Lynn Woods regulars would show. After a few minutes Sal drove into the parking lot. Greetings and jokes were exchanged and then we headed into the woods for a pre-run run.
The four of us would do an easy 45 minute out and back course in the woods so we could return to the start by 9am. A few more runners were expected to join us at that time. On our way back we ran into Dennis who is a college cross-country coach. The pace seemed to quicken once Dennis joined us. I was feeling good with the pace so far. Maybe I wasn’t awake yet. Coming back to the parking lot we could see a few more cars there. It looked like we would have more company on the next loop.
Liza, Jose and Kevin were waiting for our return. Jay, Dan and I refueled while the new arrivals got themselves together. The group was deciding what trails, and how long we would run for the second loop. We settled on an 8.5 mile loop that is a favorite with the group. It’s a mix of dirt fire roads and rocky single track, some of it running along the banks of two reservoirs that supply the City of Lynn with drinking water. Jose and Kevin wanted to do a shorter run so they went off on their own. Liza is married to Sal and they were sharing their parental duties by splitting their time between running and watching their two adorable, young children. Sal got to run first while Liza watched the children. Now it was Liza's turn to run. What ever happened to women first?
Anyway, Liza must have been in a real hurry to get to the woods because she forgot her trail shoes. Sal suggested she go back home to get them while he did the 8.5 loop. By the time he would be done, she should be back. Liza didn’t have much of a choice so she left for home to retrieve her shoes. Dennis was done for the day so Jay, Dan, Sal and I began the next loop. There was much discussion among the four as to whether Liza actually forgot her running shoes or if Sal had somehow “misplaced” them to extend his time running the trails. Sal claimed no knowledge or responsibility in the case of the missing footwear.
I had not run this trail for over a year. The change of scenery was a pleasant break from my usual stomping grounds. The group speed was faster than my solitary runs but I felt good at this pace. It always seems that the bigger the group the easier the running. The banter among the four of us also helped to make the 8.5 miles pass quickly. We completed the run at a 10 minute pace which is pretty good for the trails we covered. The two runs gave me a combined total of 13.2 miles. I was looking to do 20 so I still had some running to do.
Back at the parking lot Liza was waiting with Liam, another member of the Lynn Woods crew. Liam wanted to preview a 15K course he laid out for a race he was promoting to raise money for the Stone Tower restoration project. (You can make a donation here.) Liza was game but I was doing some quick math, 13.2 + 9.3 = 22.5, yikes! I said what the heck. Running 15K with two very nice people is a lot better than running 7 miles with my grumpy self.
Jay and Dan were cutting their run short with another 2.5 mile loop so we said our farewells and went our separate ways. Although I have seen Liza and Liam many times at the weekly cross-country races at the woods, I have never run with them before. It was great to get to know them on a more personal level. They are very genuine people. The type of people that typify most of the trail runners I have met.
Liza and I followed Liam’s lead since he was the only one that knew where we were going. After a few miles we saw a runner coming down the road. It was Mike, another long time Lynn Woods regular. We invited Mike to join us on our Stone Tower restoration run and he happily accepted. Liam continued to lead us on the course he mapped out. He did a great job of capturing the essence of Lynn Woods. His course is an interesting, and at times challenging mix of terrain with great views if you have the presence of mind to take them in. The race is scheduled for October. I’ll post the details here when they become available.
The effects of the miles and the increasing heat were starting to wear me down. Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one in need of a rest. We took a few walking breaks over the last few miles. I was out of fluids but Liam was kind enough to share his. We were getting close to the finish and Liam wasn’t sure if we should make a detour over the dam or go directly to the parking lot. I was beat and loudly repeated parking lot, parking lot. It was good that my plea was granted as we crossed the finish line with 9.31 miles on my garmin. You can’t get any closer than that for a 15K!
I had a great time running with all these wonderful people. I never could have made it through the 22.5 miles without them. This was my longest run since May ’07. It was important for me to hit the 20 mile mark this weekend and I did it. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do at Stonecat.
Until next time, share the trail…..