Forest to Park to Forest

It really was ridiculously beautiful.

Saturday morning I went for my longest trail run ever. I’ve been thinking about this run for over a year, since I first discovered that it’s possible to link the trails in Upton State Forest and Hopkinton’s Whitehall State Park. Several times I’ve set out to run from one park to the other, go around the lake, and then return back whence I started. Despite getting stymied a couple of times by ice, I’ve run from one park to another. The lake has been another matter. Until Sunday I had never gotten around the lake. A couple of times my blood sugar has dropped or I’ve gotten lost and had to cut the run short. Mostly it’s just taken longer than expected, and I’ve run out of time or daylight.

But I finally did it, running 13.1 miles on a cool autumn morning.

The trails in my part of the world are hilly, and the footing is tricky. The name of the game is roots and rocks. It’s not a technical trail at all, and for the most part it was very well blazed. For the better part of seven of the thirteen miles, I was able to look over my right shoulder and see the beautiful lake.

The beauty took the edge off how difficult it was. By time—2:40—it’s the longest I’ve run since last October’s marathon. My heart rate was pegged for almost the entire run, despite my best efforts to slow my pace and hold back. There was simply too much constant acceleration as I went up and down hills, hopped over and around obstacles, and followed the winding trail as it hugged the shoreline.

When I completed the loop after running nine miles, I had a choice: Go straight back to the parking lot (and finish after roughly 11 miles) or add some extra distance to get the full 13.1-mile, half-marathon distance. Y’all know which one I picked. The “funny” thing is that the 12th mile included over 200 feet of climbing. Fortunately, the last mile was all downhill.

Here are some pictures from the trail.

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