Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A good run, finally and a ramble about Lebanon Hills

Today was the first time in many weeks that I actually felt like a runner.

I only coughed when I swallowed some bugs. Man I hate that, Lebanon Hills is inundated with those little things that swarm together. I only quantify bugs by swallowing or biting so forgive my ignorance.

If anyone runs in Lebanon they will know what I am about to talk about so you all can skip this section but if you don't know it here is a brief overview, the park has three distinct sections, eastern, middle and western sections. The three sections are separated by roads (Pilot Knob - east/middle and Johnny Cake - middle/west - you can get a quick view of the sections with my converted pdf below but go to the link above for all of the info on the park and the actual pdf). The eastern and middle sections are connected from the trail as there is an underpass over Pilot Knob. You can access the eastern section through four parking lots, the western section through one parking lot, the middle section from the eastern section Jensen lake parking lot or the campgrounds. The only way to get from the middle to the western section is to pop out of the middle section in one of two areas and then you have a 1/2 mile or so on pavement to get to the western section.

The eastern section has the most miles of trails and probably ends up with some of greater numbers of people, I usually can get in 10 or 15 miles without getting too bored. The eastern part of the park can become almost un-runnable with deer flies later in the summer, when that happens I switch to the middle - only a few miles of trails and most are horse trails and the western section. Note on the map above the middle section is included with the western section and there aren't too many trails. The western section only has about a 2.5-3 mile loop (you can split the loop in the middle and do figure 8's) unless you want to share trails with mountain bikers which I would highly advise against. The bikers stay off the hiking trails, we should stay off theirs. Ok, I do go on the horse trails but there aren't as many of them and I can hear them coming and they mostly just smile at me and say hello so I don't think they mind. I have been told by horse folks to talk so their horses know what I am and don't get startled. I normally will stop running and walk by carefully. So please respect them as well. The reason I like the western section is the hills are steeper than the eastern and I have never had issues with deer flies. So nothing to torment me and hills to charge up and down, the only negative is that I can normally only do between 5-10 miles without getting too bored (My guess is that I better avoid FANS - 12-24 hours of Nokomis - not sure if I can deal with that) .

I think the longest run I have done in the park is probably about 25 miles, I tried to hit every trail in the Park (except the mountain bike trails) and I still missed a few, so you can spend the day there without too much repetition although will you need to do a bit of meandering back and forth.

So if you have never run in Lebanon, you should give it a try. It is a wonderful oasis of trails in suburbia that is getting heavier use but is still a great place to run. More challenging then the river bottoms, closer for me then Afton, more trails than Murphy, Hyland or just about anywhere else in the metro area that I know of.

Back to today's run, I am not sure if I actually ran any faster but I felt good almost strong. I still have a long way to go to get back any speed but more runs like today will help.

Who knows maybe soon, I will actually look and feel like a runner instead of an old slow man hobbling his way along, happy trails...............

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