Friday, July 20, 2007

The Belly of the Marsh

At the bottom of Turkey Hill trail, Tuckahoe State Park, if you want to go over to the Little Florida trail, you either get wet, or walk across a fallen tree.

Note to Self: Do NOT forget bug spray before summer trail running at Tuckahoe State Park again! Now write that 500 times on the blackboard, please.

It’s best to stay away from Tuckahoe over the summer months, generally speaking. Black flies, overgrown poison ivy, ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers, and other critters and deterrents common to marshy wooded areas on the Shore help pain the picture. Being fully aware of this, I still decided to knock out a 10-ish mile run there this past Sunday—in part because I have been jonesing for a trail run and in other part because I wanted to get a good run in there to thrash the Nike Air Zoom Kyotee II shoes that Trail Runner magazine sent me to test.

Planning the run in my head, I thought about skirting some of the sections that are more overgrown in the summer to minimize the bodily damage. Once I started hoofing it, I opted for a favorite 10-mile loop that runs you right through the belly of the marsh; sends you on all the good trails (Tuckahoe Valley, Creekside Cliff, Little Florida, and Pee Wees) and throws some of the park’s best terrain at you. The lengths I will go to test a pair of shoes!

I have never run trails with an i-pod before Sunday, always opting for the soundtrack of the woods. But after reading a number of ultra-running blog race reports about playlists, favorite bands, etc., I plugged in. In a way, it added to the experience—throwing in new rhythms and cadences to familiar places. And I can understand the popularity of jam-bands with ultra runners—my playlist included the new instrumental Beastie Boys album (a winner) and a now defunct Vermont-based band called Dispatch, who rocked some great grooves. In the end, I finished the run about 2 minutes faster than the last time I ran it.

There will be more summer trail runs at Tuckahoe. Forgetting bug spray was the only issue, and then only when I stopped to take pictures. I dig it back there too much to stay away.

As for the shoes, you’ll have to wait for Trail Runner’s fall shoe review, except to say that these shoes might be on the short list for contenders to use for the JFK 50 miler.

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