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Western Ridge Trail Run

June 19, 2011

I have a really strong sense of self-preservation. This is one of the many reasons I could not ever have been a war photographer (little known fact: I went to grad school for photojournalism), or live in any area that could possibly be described as “up-and-coming” (well, that and the hipsters).

This sense of self-preservation means that I would really like to 1) avoid getting lost in a forest, 2) avoid getting raped.

But I also try to challenge myself to get out of my comfort zone frequently, so today I decided to go trail running in Rock Creek Park in DC.

Ever since I ran the North Face Endurance Half a couple weeks ago, I’ve realized how great trail running could be for my training. I mean, stuff hurt after that race that I didn’t know running could make hurt. 

North Face Endurance Half with endorphins! 

At the same time, thanks to the aforementioned sense of self-preservation, I am a little wary of running by myself in a forest, even if that forest is in a city.

Since my boyfriend lives in Baltimore, and my friends in DC either don’t run or run wayyyy frickin faster than me, I run alone. And bad things have happened to some people who run alone in Rock Creek Park.

I also hate hate HATE not knowing where I am or if I’m on the right trail. My boyfriend and I hiked together in Gunpowder Falls Park recently and there were no maps available, not even at the trailhead, and the trails were either not marked or were poorly marked. WTF Gunpowder Falls?

But today I decided to suck it up and head to the park to run the Western Ridge Trail. I frantically googled trails in Rock Creek Park before I left and thought I had it figured out.

I parked at Oregon Ave NW and Bingham Dr NW, which thanks to this dude, I knew was near the trailhead. 

I headed out running north, which again, thanks to that dude, I knew was the more solitary part of the trail. 

 

Sorry for the crap photo, but I spiked my iPhone and it doesn’t really focus anymore.

 The verdict? The trail was beautiful! It was also hilllll-y. My legs said a very serious WTF as I started out.

I ran all the way up to Maryland, and then turned around, because I’d heard of some sort of “boundary bridge” business and I ran across a bridge (yes, it was very scientific).

 

Hey stream! 

I doubled back and headed down the trail. At this point I started freaking out because instead of the green blazes that the National Park Service had promised me marked the Western Ridge Trail, the trail was now marked with black blazes. Errr? I stopped and googled “black blazes Rock Creek Park” (no, seriously, I did, in a forest) and didn’t get any sort of guidance, so I just kept going. 

This is my WTF IS WITH THESE BLACK BLAZES and WHY DIDN’T I PUT ON BUGSPRAY face

Eventually I figured out that I was still on the right trail – when I ran my past my car. And then as I was running south of Bingham Dr., the trail actually turned into pavement for a mile or so, which was great and just what I needed. 

Bambi! 

A mile and half or so later, I doubled back toward my car. I was tired, hungry, and had just realized that humidity + lots of sweat + my cotton bike shorts = I looked like I had peed my pants. 

But all in all, a really good first trail run in DC! I didn’t get kidnapped, raped, or lost; it was beautiful and a really good workout, and I got outside of my comfort zone for an hour or so. 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex permalink
    July 27, 2011 4:42 pm

    Hi Beth! Just to let you know, someone has been spray painting our green blazes on the Western Ridge Trail with black paint. That’s why you saw black paint on the trees rather than green blazes. Every time we re-blaze the trail, the perp returns within a week. Glad you had a nice run!

    • July 27, 2011 4:52 pm

      Alex, thanks for the info! I’m glad I know where those black blazes came from, but what an odd sort of vandalism… Anyways, I loved the run and thanks for your hard work maintaining the trail!

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