Doing hard things. And chasing waterfalls.

whitagram-image-6A little over a month and a half ago, The Gang headed west for the third installment of ‘Dirtbag Adventures’.  Before I go on, and considering I haven’t written a single solitary word about either The Gang or editions 1 and 2, I probably should define a few terms. See? This is what happens when you don’t blog for shit. It’s time to play catch up.

proper noun. The Gang.

  1.  Two couples, 4 friends, who find each other completely hilarious and laugh and hike and run and ride and eat pounds of tacos and drink gallons of delicious IPAs TOGETHER whilst adventuring and exploring uncharted territory. “Hey, this ridiculously hot and long hike would be way more fun if we were with The Gang!”
  2. synonym:  BFFs. chums, buds, pals, Poodles, homies, amigos, pisans, brahs, posse, squad, crew, #squadgoals

noun. Dirtbag Adventure.

  1.  an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity shared with The Gang.  “The Gang just got back from their third Dirtbag Adventure to Havasu Falls and lived to tell about it!”
  2. synonym:  exploit, feat, escapade, episode, really fucking good time. 

It all started back in February of 2019 when The Gang decided to try their luck at getting a permit to Havasu Falls in Supai, Arizona. Supai, and all of the falls – there are five – are within Havasupai tribal lands that are located in the Grand Canyon. The only way to access the Falls is through a permit which become available on-line in February. After a series of unfortunate computer crashes and a string of expletives involving 2 laptops, 2 iPads, Facetime and an iPhone, WE GOT THROUGH! And got our permit! But then reality set in. Pro-Tip: Be at the READY on the day the permits become available. We had two of us working the website. Stay the course. You’ll get there. But don’t dawdle. Game face- ON!

Wait. What’s the date? When are we going? Oh. Hang on. Shit. THAT’S TWO DAYS AFTER OUR MARATHON!!!!

After a moment of dancing around signing WE GOT THE PERRRR-MIT like giddy fools, we realized we had a slight problem. We had booked our Dirtbag Adventure complete with Escape Campervan Rental and Havasu Falls Backpacking Bonanza of a Life Time TWO DAYS after running a marathon we’d been training for. How are we doing this?  Havasu Falls was to be followed by limping hiking adventures in Sedona, Flaggstaff and in Zion National Park. We had places to go and trails to hike! This was going to be interesting. Yikes!

But back to the start of our adventure and our pulverized quads….

We ran Sugarloaf Marathon in Maine in a torrential down pour in May. It was also 40 degrees that chilly, wet morning. Sugarloaf is a great net downhill course.  It’s super off-camber towards the end and peppered with several decent hills throughout. It’s a quad buster. It’s a good race. I probably would have loved it more had I not breast stroked to the finish line. It POURED and damn, I got super cold.


The medals are made of wood!

My Other Half ran a sub-3 (2:50 to be exact. WOWZAH!) and I ran a respectable sub-4 (3:57). Cheers all around! When we were done shivering and battling hypothermia, we hopped in the car and drove 6 hours back home to pack and get stoked for our Dirtbag Adventure THE NEXT DAY.  No rest for the weary! Sweet Jesus. No really. How are we doing this again? To say we were both beat up was a gross understatement. And it only got worse come Monday morning. We were rough. We looked at each other, shrugged and stuffed desiccated camping meals and headlamps into our bags. After all, we did this shit to ourselves. We had no one to blame. Nary a complaint or grunt was made. Just head shaking. And laughing. Lots of nervous, hysterical laughing.

Off we go!

We land in Vegas. I am using every muscle I have in my upper body to hoist myself up out of my seat on the plane. Other Half is laughing whilst wearing NEON compression knee socks. I am neither laughing nor wearing knee socks on a plane. I had to pull myself up 10 times to hit the loo. I have a bad belly.  NOOOO! At this point Dear Reader, had we both been starring in a telenovela, this would be the scene where the camera zooms in on a close-up of my panicked face and the music swells to a crescendo {Pause….End scene!}. Yup. I’m a mess. Fantastic. Because I’m not already having enough trouble functioning on a basic level,  let alone squatting and hovering over an airplane commode ten times. This is 5th Layer of Hell stuff right here. How am I hiking with a 35lb pack on my back, equipped with all supplies conducive to life for 4 days WITH POST-MARATHON DYSENTERY????  It’s not like we’re staying in a major metropolis with a CVS and Chipolte on every corner. No, no. There is fresh water, compost toilets and a first come, first serve campground but that’s about it. The village of Supai has a very small market and members of the tribe also sell Fry Bread which is a DELIGHT but otherwise, you are on your own for food. Have Jetboil, will cook. The village is several miles from the campground. There’s no Wifi, no service, no nothin’ – to us, that was even part of the allure – to unplug.  However, this is well beyond my comfort zone. Even my legs and belly know it. Pro-Tip: You will need a Jetboil or some type of camping stove to “cook” your meals with and make coffee. #priorities We purchased prepared camping meals of the “just add water” variety to eat. Remember, you can not fly with camping fuel. You’ll need to purchase it before you get to your final destination. We bought ours in a Walmart outside of Vegas after we landed. 


And so it begins: Havasu Falls or BUST!

The Head of the Trail, The Belly of the BEAST…

We pick up our van in Vegas and drive right to the trail head. From Vegas it’s roughly a 4 hour drive, give or take. We are out there! We are so excited we are giddy. The trail head is 60 miles off of the “main” road on tribal lands. Our plan is to regroup in our Escape (shameless plug) Campervan and sleep at the trail head so we can wake up fresh as daisies and hike on in, skipping and laughing and holding hands and shit, our backpacks weightless, buoyed by our hopes and dreams of waterfalls. Yeah. Not so much for me. Reality: A 13 mile trek on some super sore legs with a back pack half my size AND ISSUES. (Yes. I woke up with issues.) I’m not even going to get into the belly saga just to say that if on the day you hike into Havasu Falls you are popping Imodium and Pepto like they’re Tic Tacs YOU’D BETTER LOVE THE PEOPLE YOU’RE WITH because they’re gonna get to know you way up close and personal. At some point during the trek I just gave up. I no longer gave a shit. Gang, just leave me. I live here now…. I was powerless to the Belly. Gah. Pro-Tip:  The only way into the canyon is to hike on in from the trail head with enough supplies for 4 days and 3 nights. That’s how long your permit is good for. I’m not even going to mention renting mules because I would never pay anyone or any animal to carry my shit 13 miles into a canyon when I can damn well do it myself. And if I couldn’t, I shouldn’t go. So there. I think you can also take a helicopter in but *see mule tirade. Hike in People. It’s gorgeous and all part of an amazing experience. Don’t rent mules. Don’t hire a helicopter. Just hike. You can do it. I did it. Even with a rotten stomach and dead legs. 


Hiking into the canyon is glorious.

Needless to say, I soldiered on stoically, willing myself to get there without IV fluids. Dysentery and tired legs aside, the trek was gorgeous. And I will tell you this: the hike, a giant pack, super sore legs and my ‘issue’  made me realize that I am made of goddamn titanium. I have no idea how I made it. You guys, I felt awful. And backpacking? Dude, this was so far out of my comfort zone it was on another planet. I will run marathons in the pouring rain and hike for days, but backpack in, not shower daily, eat out of a bag and sleep in a tent? Not so much. I’m a Dirtbag, but Girlfriend does enjoy amenities and clean sheets. However, I’m always willing to try something. And where there is a will, there is a way- even if it doesn’t involve a super cute boutique hotel. The waterfalls were calling and I fucking went. Pro- Tip:  If you go, leave super early. Or you will bake and a difficult hike will become super hard face-melting one. The hike is long and on the way in, it is downhill.  It’s not easy, but it’s also not impossible. Bring plenty of water (and Immodium, Pepto and wipes if you’re me). Be prepared! And remember – LEAVE NO TRACE. That means….well. You get the point. Pack your biohazardous wipes and snack wrappers right on out with you. Everything you bring in, you take out. Hard stop.


Our site: Two tents, two hammocks and a gorgeous spot.

Chasing waterfalls and not sticking to the rivers and the streams that we’re used to…

Some hard things are just worth it. No matter what. See exhibit A, below. No filter necessary. Yes, that is the actual color of the water. Havasu Falls is absolutely breathtaking. It greets you as you make the final descent into the camping area.  You hear it before you see it. It seemingly pops up out of no where. There are no words. When I got to this point, I’m not gonna lie, I teared right on up. I had a DAY. And I turned to my other half, kissed him and said WOW!  You gotta be kidding me?!?!? What a place! And I would like to state for the record, that we were here BEFORE BEYONCÉ! True story. Word on the street is that she scouted her video location based on my IG posts. #jk


Exhibit A, Havasu Falls


My all time favorite picture of us. ❤

This place is otherworldly. Once you secure your campsite- ours was along the Havasu Creek, a tributary to the Colorado River, you can roam, hike and explore to your hearts content. After a rocky start- my gut, a DELUGE after we set up camp and a super cold night requiring wool hats and puffer jackets, we emerged from our wet tents swaddled in gear and ready to explore! We made the “Descend at your own risk” hike down to Mooney Falls which was just as magnificent as Havasu Falls and far more terrifying to get to. Gotta admit, we felt a little bad ass. Speaking of bad asses, I woke up on the second day CURED! Phew. Thank you, Baby Jesus.  Pro-Tip: Bring Chacos or hiking sandals. There are plenty of water crossings. It’s just easier to manage in sandals than trail sneaks or hiking boots. Also, bring a rain jacket and one warm jacket just in case. It saved us.

The Gang survives the trek to Mooney Falls.

Mooney Falls.

They’re not kidding.


Sheer terror but totally worth every harrowing, slippery step.

After making our way down into Mooney Falls we continued hiking on to Beaver Falls. The hike was stunning. So lush!


Mega Lush!

So many river crossings! It was incredible. Round trip was roughly 13 miles. We might have taken a few wrong turns here and there. We regret nothing! Our last day was spent enjoying every damn waterfall we came across. It was truly a trip to remember. We hiked out super early – before the mid-day heat. The switchbacks on the way up out of the canyon WERE NO JOKE!  You climb quite a bit on the way out.  By a bit I mean roughly ~1000ft of elevation gain over a mile of switch backs.  But alas, every damn step was worth it. Pro-Tip: I can’t stress it enough- leave EARLY. Even though you’re not going to want to. Make sure you have plenty of water and snacks to hike out with. The hike out is harder than the hike in. On your way out you can chit chat about the 5 falls you frolicked in – Fifty Foot, Little Navajo, Havasu, Mooney and Beaver Falls. And, for the record, yield to hikers coming up the trail. Walking several people abreast on a narrow steep trail is never appreciated. Know that if and when you knock a gal and her mighty pack on her ass, she may turn into Carmella Soprano for a hot minute and howl at you. Awareness people. Awareness.

There are so many places to see, trails to hike and mountains to climb here in the States. Get out and GO! We live in too beautiful a place to not try and get out and explore what you can, where you can, whenever you can.


Beaver Falls.

It is even possible to do it on a budget. Especially if you’re not averse to camping. I’m proud to report I am no longer backpacking averse! And if I can do it, so can you.  My list of new places to visit gets longer and longer as the years tick on. If you happen to get the chance, add this to your bucket list. It’s incredible. But if you go, remember, you are a guest here- a guest of the Havasupai Tribe. Respect them and their gorgeous, sacred land. It’s truly one of the most magnificent places I have ever been to in the United States. And go quick! Beyoncé was here for cripes sake. I’m guessing the secret is out once and for all. She’s got way more of a following than me. 😉 

Have you ever backpacked in to a remote location and camped? Camping, glamping or hotel? What’s your idea of a perfect vacation? 



The Friday Five: Puerto Rico Style!

Hola, Poodles! Where in the world has Colby been, you ask? In lovely PUERTO RICO! Drinking, eating, running, hiking and yukking it up! What a time it was! Let me tell you. Re-entry has been proving to be quite difficult. I landed back in the States a tan, bloated hot mess. Hello, Vegetables? Where are you? You know, all the trademarks of a great vacation.  This week I’m hooking up with the DC Gals- Courtney , Mar and Cynthia for this week’s Friday Five Link Up- Colby’s Puerto Rican Fun Fest! DC-Trifecta-Friday-Five-linkup

Sit tight. It’s booze soaked. I know. You’re shocked.

First things first. We arrived in Puerto Rico after what seemed like a 15 day journey. In reality it was less than ten hours from door to door, but alas, we have a flair for the dramatic. We landed, grabbed our rental car (aka The Versa) and hightailed it to our condo. Which was everything we had hoped for, and more. The view from the veranda was EPIC. From there we boogied straight to the famed Kioskos de luquillo for some food and drink. And more drink. Our first sip? The mojito. Ahhhhhh. Ice cold and muddled with lime and mint, this rum drink was on point. It was a nice cold glass of WELCOME POODLE! You home, Girl.

A photo posted by Colby (@runcolbyrun) on Mar 4, 2016 at 12:27pm PST


Our second sip? You guessed it. A pina colada. When in Rome. Or, when in Puerto Rico as it were. This wasn’t your ordinary pre-made synthetic pina colada served up by some whirling slushy machine. This was a big ass fresh pineapple, hacked open with a machete and cored. The delicious rum soaked elixir was served up right inside. Fresh. And fabulous. Oh. And floated with some 151. When in…hiccup!

So this is happening. #cheers #pinacolada #beach #puertorico #vacation #happinessisatinyumbrella #sun #tan

A photo posted by Colby (@runcolbyrun) on Mar 5, 2016 at 10:38am PST


Our third sip? Beer. We would have been remiss if we did not get a bucket of the local suds. You can’t swing a baccalito (delicious cod fritter) without hitting a Medalla. This beer couldn’t have been farther away in taste from one of my delicious IPAs, but it did the trick. Cold, wet, local. And seeing as how my water intake was measured in thimbles this week, let’s call it my hydration mix.


Bucket O’ Suds.

Our fourth sip? Coffee. Strong, delicious coffee. There is no better way to shake off a Puerto Rican Medalla and Rum Soaked Hang Over than by drinking coffee. Tankards of it. It’s is delicious. Our favorite brand was a Special Reserve Alto Grande. And we drank copious amounts of it right here.


A photo posted by Colby (@runcolbyrun) on Mar 11, 2016 at 3:47am PST


Our fifth sip? Screw the sips. We needed some grub to soak up all dat rum! Besides we were ravenous after hiking all day through the rain forest at El Yunque National Park. It was glorious. If you find yourself in Puerto Rico, check out El Yunque. We hiked for miles. Miles and green, lush miles. Right on up to the top.  No trip to Puerto Rico would be complete without sampling the local favorite- Mofongo. Made with mashed plantains, garlic, olive oil, and love, I ordered mine stuffed with vegetables. It was delicious. I also sprinkled on a local hot cha cha sauce. Plate of mofongo, a platter of tostones and a splash of hot sauce- HEAVEN!

I’m having serious withdrawals. Just sayin’.


Have you ever gone to Puerto Rico? Would you rather Resort It! Or, Go Local!? What was your last vacation? Favorite cocktail. GO!

The Back To Reality Blues.

 It took exactly 3 hours after landing in the frozen tundra that is New England, for me to forget that I had spent 7 relaxing days in South Florida. 


Tan. Faint whiff of Hawaiian Tropic on my skin. Perfect Beach Hair…All faded memories now. I’ve been home less than a day and it’s like I never left. I hate that. I hate that I allowed The Daily Grind to bogart my damn relaxing week. So much for easing back into work/life/routine.  

Sweet dreams, South Florida.

 Re-entry was less than optimal today. It was more like being caught in an avalanche. Which, by the way, may actually be possible seeing as how Snowmageddon is waiting to rear its ugly frostbitten head this weekend and bite us all in the ass.  

Whaddup, Pelican?

  I’m usually still clinging to vacation mode for several days after returning back to reality. This time it was several hours. Next time it will be several minutes. The next, I may not return. 

Intense dread. That’s what I had today. Combined with feeling stale. Not moldy, stale. That tells me I need a change. Which can be quite interesting. And will always be exciting. It might just be time for one. Minor? Major? A new attitude? Christ. I’ll even take a new hairdo at this point.  Or maybe it’s just the Return to Reality Blues which always seems to follow a lovely time with My Other Half. 


However, Bike Tour Guide in Europe or a Lounge Singer in a Sexy Red Dress is sounding wayyyy better than Scientist these days. Meh. Maybe it’s just a phase. I’ll snap out of it.

Probably while I’m shoveling. 

Wine is ALWAYS the answer.

 Do you get hit with the Back to Reality Blues following a great vacation? What did you want to be when you grew up? Have you ever dodged falling coconuts while running?  I have! 

Danger! Falling Coconuts!

Running, Relaxing and Wellfleeting.

Hunger Games
VACATION! Ahhhh! There is nothing like one. Especially when it comes on the heels of My Favorite Weekend of the Year and is spent in one of my favorite places. I look forward to this goddamn week all year.

Uncle Tim’s Bridge, Wellfleet.

 And it NEVER disappoints. Oysters, Dark and Stormy’s, lobster rolls, burritos on the beach, sun, laughter and plenty of cold beers. It’s a relaxing, eating, drinking, chill fest. And why wouldn’t it be? I just rode 192 miles in the Pan Mass Challenge, raised THOUSANDS of dollars for cancer research (Thank You Suze, Helly, Lillian and Kimberly! MUUUUUAAAH!) and am spending time with My Other Half and dearest friends. It’s perfection on the half shell. That is unless you are training for a marathon using Hansons Marathon Method. Then it becomes a bit tough. Unless you *cough* modify your week. And balance the amount of running with relaxing and a side of shenanigans.  Which is just what I did. I’m only human, Poodles. Here’s how last week’s training went. If I had my red pen out. I’d give me a B. Minus. 

Monday, 8/3: Coming down from the PMC high and slowly sliding into the PMC depression, I did the only thing a PMC rider suffering withdrawals should do: I planted my tired ass on the beach and recapped the weekend, chatting, laughing and soaking in every sunbeam of good karma. 0 Miles. Unless dragging all beach chairs, coolers, blankets, towels, beer and burritos in one fell swoop from the car to the dunes counts. No? Then I’ll take the zero. I earned it.  


Tuesday, 8/4: Easy Run, 6 Miles. I managed to dig out my new kicks, courtesy of ShoeKicker (Read my review HERE. It’s a site you MUST favorite.), wrangle up my peeps, and head off on a hot, silly, group run. I’m not gonna lie, I would have rather been water boarded than run that first mile. Torture. My quads were bent. They were all like: Where the bike at?!? This. Sucks. They slowly remembered how to run and all was right in the world. 

Proof. Six miles. #irun4wyatt

 Wednesday, 8/5: 7 miles. Keep in mind, this was supposed to be my Rest Day. Also keep in mind, that Tuesday was supposed to be intervals and Thursday? Yeah. A tempo run. Instead, I just ran. As fast as I wanted to for as long as I wanted. I pretty much did that all week. I explored new streets and trails. I ditched my Garmin. And I didn’t beat myself up for it. It was fantastic. Sorry, Hansons. I also sat outside under a starry sky watching an old Peter Sellers movie with pizza, wine and friends. What a Wednesday!  

A Shot in the Dark.

 Thursday, 8/6: 7 miles. If I had to guess, I’d call these zippy. Probably because I ran them with My Other Half. And he’s a freaking greyhound. We wound up discovering a beach which was completely new to us. I love Wellfleet. The light is just so beautiful here. Soft.  Stunning. 

We spent our last day on the beach, pulling for our friend…

 Then we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset for our efforts. 

 Friday, 8/7: 0 miles. Yup. I bagged. And drank coffee. Then headed home to spring Drunk Otis and his gang from the clink. 

Saturday, 8/8: 10 miles. Back in the saddle! Legs felt FANTASTIC. Maybe bagging Friday was the right choice after all? Im going with YES! 

Sunday, 8/9: 10 miles. Boom! Pow! I’m back with a vengeance! Recharged and ready to BRING THIS BITCH HOME! I’m nearly half way there. And I’m surviving! Just like Drunk Otis did during his first trip to “The Spa.” Turns out he likes vacations too. 

Go figure. 🙂 

 Total Miles Run: 40.
Number of Wellfleet Oysters Eaten: Dozens. 
Number of Weeks Until We Return: 51. 

Do you run while you’re on vacation?  If you’re in the throes of serious training, do you stick your plan? Oysters: Yes or No?

Fun Run


While Colby was running through the woods of Vermont, I was busy visiting our friends at The Happiest Place on Earth! Yup, the Fam and I snuck down to Disney for 5 days to get our fill of junk food and vertigo. A good time was had by all.

Of course, the first stuff I packed was my running gear. Running on vacations is one of my favorite things to do. You can check out new scenery, get your bearings on where you have landed, and they are blissfully unrushed.

I didn’t get a chance to run the day we got there or the next day – too busy and I didn’t want to hold the kids up from getting to the parks, and by the 3rd day I was kinda completely jumping out of my skin. The combination of walking a zillion miles across acres of park followed by waiting in line had left me achy and antsy. My body needed to move – at a clip faster than a walk, and for more than 5 minutes at a time. I assume I am not the only person who actually feels more achy when they don’t run than when they do?

Day 3 I got up early, ready to go. Vacation run: new scenery. Opportunity to check out new radio stations. And best of all, no rush to get back for work/school bus/meetings. Aaaah. And, truth be told, given that I am in the middle of marathon training, I was a little anxious to get some mileage in.

Dressed, laced up my sneaks, and spent 10 unsuccessful minutes searching for my Garmin. That I managed to misplace my Garmin in a small hotel suite is quite amazing. But I did. I’m amazing like that. Gave up looking and decided that this was not going to be a training run after all – just a fun run to shake the legs out. (update: turns out I had put it in a “safe place’ in a small zippered compartment in my carry-on. So safe I couldn’t even find it myself.)

Stepped outside and was greeted with a wall of 100% humidity and temps in the low 80’s. OK Orlando, so this is how we are going to play it? GAME ON! It’s The Happiest Place on Earth! A little heatstroke inducing weather isn’t gonna kill my buzz.

Turned on my mp3 player to watch it die before I left the parking lot. I felt like Shleprock. But I carried on.


The run ended up being wonderful. I felt so unfettered – I didn’t know where I was going, what I would see or how far I was running. I didn’t have anything in my hands or on my wrist. I just ran. Like a kid. And loved every minute of it.

Florida has many beautiful areas, but International Drive in Orlando, where I spent much of my run, isn’t one of them. Didn’t matter – this run wasn’t about sightseeing, it was about getting in a run that my body seriously craved and needed. I felt all of the weird amusement-park induced aches fade away while I ran – using my body in such a familiar way. Ran for about an hour and felt like a million sweaty bucks afterward. I have no idea how far I ran, only a loose idea of how long I ran and had no idea if anything interesting had happened in the world while I was gone. And I didn’t care. I got my run on and had a blast.

This was no training run – it was a fun run. And even though I’m usually technically “in training” for one thing or another, I need to remember to take these more often. I don’t get too many opportunities to feel like a kid again, so I want to make sure to grab each and every one. Plus, it reminds me of why I started to run in the first place. Because it is fun.

The next day, I got up and had another great run with my Garmin and my fully-charged mp3. And it was a great run. But this one – this was one worth writing about.

Does anyone else get oddly excited to go for a run on vacation? Do you ever ditch the Garmin and just head out for a “fun run?”

Prancercise, Part Deux.


Girlfriend is back. And I am elated.

And after the shit ass Monday I had, I couldn’t have been happier to see her sassy prancey self. Why is it that the day back from a fantastic, sun drenched, do-good vacation, you wind up getting shanked the moment you set one tan paw back into work? Thank heavens for The Prancercise Lady (née Joanna Rorhback). She’s back with a new vid. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. In case you’re NOT one of the 10,000,000+ individuals who peeped her first YouTube video, I’ll enlighten you. What is Prancercise you ask?

Prancercise® is defined as: A springy, rhythmic way of moving forward,similar to a horse’s gait and ideally induced by elation. “This form of movement, along with dietary and spiritual principles can create the most satisfying, holistic and successful fitness program one could hope to experience. I encourage anyone who is ready for a huge change in their lives, from the way they see the world, to the way they see themselves to explore the principles inherent in this program, especially as outlined in my book : Prancercise®:The Art of Physical and Spiritual Excellence.”

Joanna Rohrback, B.H.S. Owner/MGR.M of Prancercise LLC

Move like a springy, elated horse?!?!? Sign. Me. Up. Maybe my trail running would improve if I embodied the Principles of Prancercise. I’d better get on it. The VT50 is mere WEEKS away. 50k in 50 days. {Fans self with iPad.} And not for nothing, BRAVO to the Prancercise Lady for putting it out there. She’s moving alright! Like a goddamn philly!

I wish I had seen this video earlier. I woulda just Prancercised Monday away.

How was your Monday? Thoughts on Prancercise? Have you gotten shanked your first day back from vacation?

On Track

I have written before about some of my favorite places to run – the infamous Heartbreak Hill, bucolic Central Park Reservoir, awe-inspiring Diamond Head. I want to write about a different type of running place today: the track. While not my favorite place to run in the same way as these other special places, I still regularly find myself heading back to the track for a variety of reasons.

1. It is kind on the legs. The sponginess of a track surface can’t be beat and is a nice switch-up from the hard pavement that is my regular running surface. It also is a very even surface, which is gentler on the legs and particularly helpful if when recovering from an injury. Two summers ago, I sprained my ankle playing soccer (on hard, unforgiving astroturf – the anti-track) and when I started running again, I headed straight for the track. Did all my running there until I had my full strength back and I credit the track with helping me get back to regular runs more quickly and without re-injury.

2. It is really easy to do speedwork. Having the distance increments mapped out for me makes it easier to do fartleks or other speedwork. Plus, there are no cars, stop signs, cyclists or other impediments to running all out.

3. It is très easy to calculate distance. Even for the math-challenged. No need to MapmyRun here!

4. It can get a little boring – ok, a lot boring – but I can also really get into a zone because of the lack of changing scenery. Plus, I figure that when I run 6 miles on a track, I am building up some kind of tolerance to boredom that will help on longer runs. (That said, I do run with headphones, and can’t imagine running that far on a track without them.)

5. I can bring my kids. I sometimes find myself itching for a run while the kids are home with no sitter in sight – especially during summer vacation. I can grab a bag of balls & Frisbees, bring the kids and still get a good run in while they run themselves or play games. Accompanying me on my track runs is how my oldest, M, got interested in running.

6. They are pretty much everywhere. I love to go for runs on vacation. In some places, it is easy to figure out a good route to run, and I love nothing more than running a new route in a new place. Sometimes, though, it just isn’t feasible. Maybe there are no safe roads to run on. Maybe the terrain is crazy. Maybe I’ll be running in the semi-dark ( fine enough when I’m familiar with my route, not so much in a new place). Maybe I just can’t figure out a solid route that won’t leave me lost and looking for a payphone (good old days) or cell reception. Whatever the reason, if there is a high school nearby, there is usually a track. When all else fails, I have usually been able to find a track wherever I have traveled – at least in the US – and have been able to get a few good runs in on every vacation.

So, that is my pitch for the lowly track. No, it isn’t going to inspire a pictorial essay. No, I will not be regaling my grandchildren, ages and ages hence, of the times I ran by myself on a track at dusk. Nor will I daydream about these tracks like I do about Diamondhead. Nonetheless, I’m mighty grateful that they are around.