Every weekend I plan a run along one of the many trails in Eastern Connecticut. My favorite trail, which I'm most often on, is the Hop River Rail Trail that runs from Vernon into Andover and beyond. There's a number of great spots to park along the trail too. I usually park on the paved lot along the trail off of Church Street.
The Hop River Trail is only a mile or so from my house so it's the most convenient place for me. Plus, it's in great shape for walking, running, and biking. You can take a road bike on it too and not worry that you'll get a flat tire for most of it. There's just one small section that does have gravel across it that you need to walk your road bike over near the lower Bolton Lake.
Anyway, I'm headed to the trail and all it offers. I'll let you know how it goes later today.
There were many cars in the lot when I reached the trail today, but still plenty of room for others. There was a large group of younger runners stretching and talking near the picnic table and shelter too. It was a local college running team preparing for a workout. I usually see them running towards me on the return leg of my out-and-back route. That made sense because I was a little behind schedule today.
I did my usual stretching routine and briefly chatted with one of the coaches as she was sitting at the picnic table with a laptop in front of her. No doubt she was preparing to log in details of today's workout. She said that the team liked this trail and that they had a nice 12 mile loop to do. She went on to say that they sometimes run further though.
I noticed sitting on a bench near the picnic table some other frequent Sunday morning runners. In particular, I noticed this one tall guy with short hair and an Abe Lincoln-type beard. I know he's fast. He runs with a group of people that train for the Hartford Marathon.
The day was overcast and the temperature was about 60 degrees with a slight wind. I started out at a fairly steady pace (7:58 mins./mile) for the first 2 miles when I passed two older ladies walking. They're always out walking every Sunday. Good for them. I said hello and continued on towards Valley Falls Park, which is north of the trail, down a steep hill. The trail was covered with red, orange, yellow and green leaves. The storm yesterday brought down quite a few leaves and branches.
I like the fact that the trail has quarter mile markers, which help you gauge the pace when you're running. On the way out, it's a gradual uphill slope. That's okay with me because this allows you to push yourself in the beginning and negative split the run on the way back.
At the 3 mile mark, I stopped and turned around. I planned to only do 6 miles today. I'm still nursing my left knee, which I have arthritis in. I felt pretty good though. I reached that mark in 23:39-a 7:53 pace. There were a lot of people walking this morning. One younger kid was even riding a skateboard on the trail.
The return trip was good, although I didn't feel quite as strong as I did last week. My knee didn't bother me at all. I covered the last 3 miles in 22:51- a 7:37 pace (my splits: 7: 53, 7:42, 7:16). Not too bad.