Boxing Day dawned much like Christmas (or so I imagine, not having been up anywhere near that moment), chilly, not cold. Mid-40s. An optimist might call it upper-40s. Not tights weather. Indeed, I ended my Christmas run in shorts and a t-shirt and so it would be. And not a cloud in the sky.
Getting up late meant delaying heading, as I was determined to do, up to the Rockies. So I arrived at SHHS at about 1. Only a few cars in the lot. Shorts, t-shirt, arm-warmers, gloves. I dusted off my Garmin, not having worn it for over a month, and strapped that on. And off I went.
Entering the Rockies from SHHS means not running in the Rockies for a bit. Instead, one starts on the Old Croton Aqueduct. It is a surface quite unlike the carriage trails of the Rockies themselves. Dirt. Hard dirt. It’s where everyone gets their legs loosened up. I came upon a few groups of walkers heading out. After about 3/4 of a mile one sees the Rockies to the right. You can stay on the OCA for an extended period, generally leaving it only for a sojourn to a field along the Hudson itself (as we did a few weeks back (the picture there gives a good idea of what the Rockies’ surface is like)).
That route, though, is a bit pedestrian. I wanted to head into the Rockies. This means taking a sharp right-turn through a small hole in a low stone wall. I was in, and starting the first climb. Not that long, not that steep, and followed immediately by a gradual, curving downhill. I elected to build the run around 13-bridges trail. There are, indeed, 13 small bridges crossing a stream along this trail. But the bridges are not its signature feature. That is the hill at the end. You know the hill is coming but you don’t seem to be getting closer.
A slight uphill followed by a flat. Then you hit it. After a bit you turn nearly 180 degrees to the right and a look to the right shows the trail you’ve just been on well below you, but you haven’t long to look because there’s a sharp left and a right and a left into a long final stretch. On an earlier visit Charlotte said there’s a statue of Buddha at the top, but I’ve yet to see it. Apparently its placed in a crevice in a rock. When one passes, though, one hardly has the energy to look for it other than with the slightest glance. I’ve yet to see it. (I ran into, almost literally, Charlotte’s husband Peter, my orthopedist, on Saturday, which was nice. Two of their girls ran for Bronxville’s XC varsity this year.)
Again, though, this long hill is followed by a nice down. In one of the prettiest stretches, the trail, angling down, has a hill to the right and a drop to the left with a slight, defining wall along the left side. By this stage I was warm. Off went the gloves. I had the Garmin on the outside of the arm warmers so had to undo it, pull off the left warmer, and put it back while heading merrily along. It worked.
All this time I had seen a number of walkers, but only a few runners. It really was quiet for long stretches.
I was feeling quite good, not the least because I was cruising along down. My goal was an hour. I could add on distance by heading up to the Visitor’s Center. That would put into play perhaps the toughest hill in the place (which, thankfully, is its steepest early) and I was not up to that. Plan B: do a nice loop near the southern tip of the Park. Which is what I did, running up the hill I used months ago for downhill intervals to work on my quads, following Pete Magill’s advice from Running Times, which, I should add, appears to have worked. My pace was pretty solid (the Garmin had me in the low 6:50s, 7-flat for the climb), but the climb was still pushing me to the edge. Alas when I turned right to loop around the path continued up. Not much, but enough. I was eyeing trees as landmarks, and then I was to the top and had a rip-roaring journey down again.
Under a stone bridge over which Bedford Road passes, then up that curving hill I took earlier, just enough to keep me honest but not too much to kill me, and back to the OCA, heading for home. Now I was determined to keep a solid pace to the end. And I did. All-in-all, a good run.
And I took a video at the end. (It took me a bit to turn it off. And it was noisy.)