Monday, January 5, 2009

Long Run

I ran for 3 hours and 20 minutes in the woods today. It was sunny with temperatures around 30 degrees when I started and up to 40 degrees when I finished. I ran about a half mile on the roads and then entered the Box Shop woods in Parsonsfield. The Box Shop trail wasn't broken. I had to run for about 2 miles through shin deep snow. It was good strength work, but slow going. By the time I reached Kezar Mountain Rd I was huffing and puffing like I had just run a 5K race. I ran a few miles of dirt road on Kezar Mountain Rd, crossed rte 160 and entered the Parsonsfield woods near the Ossipee River. Snow mobiles had been through this section when there was deeper snow in mid December, so it was a packed base with some loose snow on top. It was excellent for running.

When I came to the first brook crossing, I saw that the bridge was out. The ice seemed to be pretty thick so I started across carefully. On my last step before I would be back on solid ground, my left foot went through and I was thigh deep in cold water. It was a big clumsy process to get my right foot up on the banking and extract my left foot from the brook. I have found it is never as easy coming back up through the ice as it is going down through it. My foot was cold, but I knew from prior experience (yes, I have had this happen before)) that It would warm up if I kept moving. About 100 yards down the trail the second bridge was out, too. I decided to be more careful and walked out into the woods to find a narrower crossing that I could jump over. I would have made it if my wet left foot hadn't become a 5 pound block of ice. That's what it felt like, anyway. This time both my feet got wet. It was a little annoying at the time, but within a mile my feet were warm and I forgot all about it. I was surprised to find my feet were still wet when I got home.

The next stretch of trail had been re-routed around a new landowner's property. A sign told me that the Landshare Riders ATV club had put in the new trail. It was winding, narrow, and hilly and added some distance to the old route. I thought it was a lot nicer than the old trail. The stretch that was bypassed had been sold within the past few years. The new owner had given me permission to run through, but didn't sound happy about it. It was kind of like, "well, I guess you can run through here if you absolutely have to." So I felt a little unwanted running through there and was always afraid I would meet up with the landowner again and it would be awkward. Now I had a way to bypass that stretch.

I don't like the noise, pollution, or tire ruts that ATVs make, but the snowmobile and ATV clubs in this area do a lot of trail maintenance and they work on landowner relations to keep public access. At the rate that Southern Maine is being developed, this is important work. I have never come across an ATV or snowmobile rider who hasn't been respectful and polite to me when we meet in the woods. So, although you will never catch me on an ATV, I plan to send a donation to the club for the work they have done in the area where I ran today.

When I reached the Chase Road I had to make a descision...continue over Merrill Hill, run back on the roads, loop around through the Effingham woods...the trail conditions had been so nice heading out that I decided to turn around and run the same trails back to route 160. I didn't fall into either brook on the way back. From Rte 160, I ran back home on old unmaintained town roads through the woods of Porter. I had someone's snow shoe tracks to run in for a while, then logging truck tracks all the way to Chapel St in Kezar Falls. I love finishing on Chapel Street. It is a screaming downhill on a paved road with almost no traffic. I let gravity carry me almost all the way home.

I ran about 20 miles today and loved every minute of it.

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