Tag Archives: Westchester

Where to Run in Westchester? Try Waveny Park in New Canaan, CT!

Waveny Park path

Ok, so Waveny Park is in Connecticut, not Westchester, but it’s close enough.  And I did this run in late August, a little over a month ago (the week before my long run in Pound Ridge Town Park).  The color of the leaves might have changed in a month but the trails are still there!

 

In a turn from the usual, I’m trying to do at least a little training before my next marathon (Twin Cities in Minneapolis/St. Paul on October 4th).  So this week I forced my lovely family to go to Waveny Park so I could do my long run and they could run, too (… and wait and mess around on the exercise equipment and wait and watch the model airplane people and wait).

 

This was kinda neat to see - tons of people had their airplanes out - and it looked like something they did every weekend.

This was kinda neat to see – tons of people had their airplanes out – and it looked like something they did every weekend.

Wavney Park is in New Canaan, Connecticut, not far from the downtown and just off the Merritt Parkway (you can actually see cars on the Merritt while running).  The high school is inside the park, along with a track, a pooltennis courts, a grand old house, and a theater theatre.  I did my entire run inside the park on the various trails – I did not run on the roads as it seemed dangerous and I seem overly cautious.

A lot of the trails looked like this, but narrower and more crowded as the morning passed.

A lot of the trails looked like this, but narrower and more crowded as the morning passed.

Unfortunately, the trails in the park do not form any sort of coherent loop or route (see map here).  So I spent 10 miles going up and down and back and forth and left and right depending on my mood and how crowded certain sections of the trail seemed to be at the time.

Like the path of an insane person, which I became by the end of this run.

Like the path of an insane person, which I became by the end of this run.

 

The good:

  • The trails were easy, in the sense you could wear road shoes and be fine.
  • Hard to get lost, despite all the random turns and dead ends.
  • Lots of shade.
  • There’s a real bathroom inside the park (near where they fly the model airplanes – it looks like a maintenance shed and isn’t too far from the parking lot near the “house”).

The bad:

  • No loop!  Surprisingly frustrating and made the miles creep by.
  • Kinda crowded.  If you start early in the morning or go on a weekday, I imagine it would be much better.
  • No loop.  Seriously, I decided to run in Pound Ridge Town Park the next weekend because I just couldn’t face running random paths in Wavney again.
The Wavney House on a hill.

The backside of Wavney House (on a very gradual hill).

I also tried listening to a book on tape for the first time during the run (Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan – it’s ok, but his stand-up is better).  I enjoyed the experience enough that I listened to Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch during parts of my next two long runs (Girl was easier for me to listen to than Dad, for some reason).  Right now, it’s more appealing for me to listen to comedy than music during my long runs, since I have such a slow pace and upbeat music can be irritating after a while (well, anything can be irritating after a while, which is why mostly I run in silence).  Anyway, if you’re looking for something to pass the time while running, I’d say try it out!  There’s usually a special on Audible memberships (at least one month free but often you can find deals like 3 months for $3 or something), and their different membership levels are explained here (1 credit is basically 1 book).

 

After the run we all went for a big lunch at Le Pain Quotidien and then bought candy at a candy store, where I found my future everyday outfit:

I'll take 100 in my size, please.

I’ll take 100 of these in my size, please.

Back to real time = Tomorrow is the Bronx 10-Miler!  See you there!

 

Do you run on open roads?  What do you listen to while you run?  Where should I try running next time I’m in Westchester?  Share in the comments!

Where to Run in Westchester? Try Pound Ridge Town Park!

This is not the section where I fell down.

This is not the section where I fell down.

I’m a little behind on posting – here’s a mini-review of one of two locations I ran in Westchester County, NY, (about 1 hour north of NYC) in late August.

 

For my long slow distance (LSD) run this week, I did 14 miles of 1.5 mile loops in Pound Ridge Town Park, which was not quite as mind-numbing as it sounds.  I enjoyed the company of my niece for the first 6 miles (she was kind enough to slow down for me), then promptly fell down, then finished another 7 miles before driving back home and doing nothing for the rest of the day (some things never change).

 

Yes, I fell during this run.  Hard.  But let’s run a few loops first, shall we?

Yes, it was a lot of loops.

Yes, it was a lot of loops.  No, it did not stay 57 degrees for very long.

We started the 1.5 mile loop by running along the small pond in the park (the same pond over which the town shoots their amazing 4th of July fireworks every year).  It’s a mostly shaded paved path that has a couple of minuscule hills, heads past the police department, then unfortunately dead ends at Fancher Road.  We’d double-back at this point, continue past the pond and head up a gravel fire road-type thing, through the trees uphill of the baseball fields, then turn right and up another gravel road to pass the basketball courts.  Then we’d head into the woods for a couple short blocks downhill before spilling out onto the tennis courts.  We’d run on/past the courts, veer left on the paved road, run past the playground, past the grassy field, around the parking lot, and start the loop all over again.  One loop down, 8.5 loops to go…

 

After my niece finished her miles with me and went to the playground, I was feeling pretty good as I headed into the woods for the downhill trail portion.  I decided to pick it up a bit on the downhill – just for fun, you know?  I promptly tripped on a rock and went tail over teakettle.  I had a split-second moment of clarity as I went airborn, knowing I was going to fall and trying to figure out how best to fall without seriously injuring myself.  My years of being a terrible snowboarder helped me, as I was able to roll once before coming to a stop, relatively unscathed.  I sat there for a few minutes, pressing hard on my scraped leg and palm, as that always seems to help the pain for me.  I stood up, brushed off, used my hydration pack to irrigate the small wound on my hand, and slowly walked downhill out of the woods back to the tennis courts.  That’s where I shook out my legs and tried trotting around the safe, stable surface of the courts.  I felt fine, no worse than during any other long run, so I continued running the remaining 7.5 miles to finish my LSD run of the week.

By the end of the run, I was this slug.

By the end of the run, I was this slug.

 

Pound Ridge Town Park is not a bad place to run.  We saw several other runners that morning, lots of dog walkers, and lots of people playing on all the various courts and fields (little league, basketball, and tennis).  I’d definitely run there again, but next time I’ll watch my footing.

 

Where do you run in Westchester?  Are you annoyed I posted this route review almost a month after I ran it, or do you not mind?  Are you being inconvenienced by the Pope today?  Share in the comments!

Race Recap – Pound Ridge 5K, July 3, 2015

At the back of the start of the Pound Ridge 5K.

At the back of the pack for the Pound Ridge 5K.

Despite running and spectating this race two times before, I always thought the Pound Ridge 5K was called the “Independence Run” or “July 4th” run or something like that, since it always occurs around the holiday.  But despite the plain name, this is one of my favorite races.  It also hits three critical S’s – small, shady, and short.

 

Pound Ridge is a quaint town of about 5,000 people located an hour’s drive north of New York City.  Every year they do a 5K race around July 4th, usually the same day they do their excellent fireworks show (also held in the park).  The race usually has a few hundred runners and a decent number of spectators dotted along the course, calling out to their friends and neighbors from their lawns.  The race allows dogs (lots of dogs this year!) and I assume it allows strollers although I didn’t see any this year.  The closed course winds along paved, shady backroads starting near the town’s elementary school and ending in Pound Ridge Town Park.  It has a nice small-town feel and is a great way to kick-off the holiday weekend celebrations.

 

The Pound Ridge 5K race shirt for 2015.

And a fourth “s” – shirt!

This year they even ran a shuttle from the finishing parking lot at the park to the registration/starting area at the elementary school (a very short ride away).  It’s easy to register on race day ($20 includes a cotton t-shirt) although this year they ran out of normal bib numbers so they gave many of us handwritten bibs.  There’s no chip timing so it doesn’t really matter.  The race started at 9 am and wrapped up about an hour later, allowing plenty of time for everyone to finish.

 

Found some like-minded folk at the race.

Me with some other festive folk at the race.

I wore my patriotic Ragnar outfit for this race along with a decorated hat and American flag bandana and sunglasses.  I was probably the most decked-out person at this small race, although I found two other like-minded souls who also were celebrating the reason for the season.

 

Map of the Pound Ridge 5K route.

Map of the Pound Ridge 5K route.

After the first uphill which passes the elementary school, the course veers left and heads downhill for about a mile, then becomes gently rolling hills until turning right onto an asphalt sidewalk for a short stretch through the woods before finishing on the main lawn in the park.  There were three water stops, at about 1.5 miles, 2ish miles, and one right near the end for some reason.  After you cross the finish line (with large timing signs so you can see when you finish), they hand you a mini bottle of water and usually announce your name (although some of us with handwritten bibs didn’t get announced or marked down, but you could fill out a bib tag afterwards so your results would be noted somewhere – maybe eventually online?).

 

All the amazing food at the finish of the Pound Ridge 5K!

All the amazing food at the finish of the Pound Ridge 5K!

The other amazing thing about this race is the food spread at the end.  They had two types of mini donuts, corn and blueberry mini muffins, an assortment of bagels and cream cheese, coffee, tea, and orange juice.  Lest you forget, this is only a 5K!  They had more food than many marathon finishes I’ve seen!

 

I ended up finishing in about 30 minutes, or about a 9:43 pace, which is a lot faster than I anticipated – trying to catch up to my 10-year-old niece made me push hard, although she still beat me.

 

So if you ever find yourself in Pound Ridge around the 4th of July, definitely take part in their 5K race, and then stick around for the fireworks afterwards (although maybe go home and shower and have some BBQ first, since they’re like 12 hours apart, after all).

Some of the awesome fireworks from this year's show.

This wasn’t even the finale.  Happy 4th, everyone!

 

Have you ever visited Pound Ridge?  How are you celebrating the 4th of July?  Did you bake and/or eat a “flag” cake?  Share in the comments!

Where to Run in Westchester? Try Ward Pound Ridge Reservation!

Rocks galore at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.  Mosquitos and biting flies not pictured.

Rocks galore at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. Mosquitos and biting flies not pictured.

I was exceedingly anxious about my LSR today in Westchester as I was heading into the unknown and running the trails at the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.  I shouldn’t have been so nervous, because the thing that ultimately ended my run prematurely (only managed 6.5 miles instead of 15) was not the lack of facilities or even the incredibly rocky path but rather the mosquitos and biting flies.

 

The run started on a sour note because I had forgotten my Camelbak at home, so I had to carry a water bottle by hand.  I hate hand-carrying water, but I barely noticed the bottle during the run because there were about 5,000 other more annoying things occupying my attention.  The first, most obvious difference on this run compared to my cradle that is Central Park were the rocky trails.  They were rockier than I expected and I was unprepared both physically (as a road runner) and equipment-wise (my soft road shoes were equally not up for the challenge).  The rocks varied from large, softball sized rocks to smaller slippery, shale pebbles to giant, half-submerged boulders.  Oftentimes the trail was partially washed away, creating gullies and exposing yet more rocks.  Rocks are not kind on the knees.  Neither is having to dodge them and change direction, making sure not to roll an ankle or trip and fall.  After about 2 miles, I thought about turning around and calling it a day, but I pushed down my discomfort because today was my LSR, danggit, and I wanted to cover at least one 5.7 mile red-blazed loop.  When the bugs started fiercely attacking at mile 3, I realized I had made a huge mistake.

 

Typical scenery at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

Typical scenery at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

My knee started complaining more vociferously after mile 3 but every time I stopped to take a walk break the bugs would be whining right by my ears, sometimes actually landing inside my ears, and I’d flap my arms and swat at my head like a crazy person.  The rocks were relentless, the bugs equally so, and I still had 3 more miles (at about an 18:00 min/mile pace at this point) to go.  I tried to tell myself the experience would make me a better runner, but really it just made me re-think my romantic plans to hike the Appalachian Trail or even attempt any sort of trail race anytime soon.

 

The “Pound” in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is derived from the animal pounds the Indians kept in the area – keeping deer “on the hoof” until they needed them for food.  I felt like a trapped deer myself, swatting at the ceaseless onslaught of insects.  The bug spray I applied before the run did nothing to keep them away, although it might have helped against the highly probable ticks in the area.

 

Here is the most scenic spot along the red loop in WPRR.  Enjoy it.

Here is the most scenic spot along the red loop in WPRR. The irony that it is a giant pile of rocks is not lost on me.

I stopped to take a few photos here and there, so you could see all the rocks and the non-beauty that I enjoyed.  There was one semi-scenic area along the red trail loop, and I made sure to get a photo of it to save you the bother of ever trying to see it yourself.  At some point the red/green trail I started on turned into red/yellow, and eventually I came upon a major fork in the road that clearly indicated red was to the left.  I double-checked the map I was carrying and headed to the left, thinking I was less than half a mile from the parking lot.

 

More rocks on the red and yellow trail at WPRR.

More rocks on the red and yellow trail at WPRR.

After heading along the yellow trail for a while I came across a group of hikers and asked them if the parking lot was just ahead.  The leader in the group told me that the parking lot was in the opposite direction!  He showed me where I was on my map, and the group agreed the navigation in the park “wasn’t intuitive.”  I thanked him and told him my run had been pretty miserable because of all of the biting flies.  He said, “Yeah, that’s funny because they all died off a couple of weeks ago, but they’re back now.”  I wanted to say, “you knew about the biting flies and yet you hike here anyway?!” but since he had just saved me from another fruitless three mile loop in the wrong direction, I just thanked him and trotted off.

Which direction is the red trail?  Yeah, actually opposite of that.

Which direction is the red trail? Yeah, actually opposite of that.

When I reached the signpost again I took a picture to document the red-trail left turn it indicated, then went the opposite direction and found the parking lot not more than 50 yards down the path.  I had never been so happy to hit a parking lot and felt like I had just survived a Bear Grylls challenge.

 

There’s no simple “equivalence” formula of a mile on a trail to a mile on the road, but it definitely felt like more than 6.5 miles on my legs.  I’m still disappointed I didn’t get in a solid 15 today, but at least this LSR wasn’t critical to my marathon training (versus, say, my 18-miler would be), so I’m trying not to sweat it.  Needless to say, I would not recommend WPRR as a running destination, although I did encounter about 5 other runners during my almost 2 hour slog through the woods, and none of them seemed as miserable as I was.  It was “interesting” to try the WPRR trails for the first time, but I’m going to give an extra big kiss and hug to Central Park when I return.

 

Do you run on trails?  Do you have problems with bugs?  Share in the comments!