Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Lake Trail: southern lake Crabtree

The Lake Trail is 6 miles of singletrack circumventing Lake Crabtree in The Lake Crabtree County Park.

The first thing to note is that the trail shares part of its route with the Crabtree mountain biking trails, which can be closed after rain. When that happens, the gate at the Reedy Creek Road access is padlocked, which prevents the loop from being completed. If the trail is run counter clockwise having started at the park access, you won't find out about the gate until after running close to 5 miles. So, I'd recommend starting at Reedy Creek Road and checking the gate first.

The half mile of singletrack that I ran on the southern edge of this trail that veers off of the Black Creek Greenway was rough, and I think it would be rough shod or barefoot. The barefoot challenge lies in large acorns peppering the trail. In addition, there are sections of trail peppered in white granite gravel, which felt sharper than regular gravel.

In general, this section of the trail was very rooty. Sections of trail "stairs" (made out of two-by-fours) made running awkward even when not barefoot.

Overall, this is should be doable in minimalist shoes. I intend to test this theory once colder weather forces me into VFF's.

There are at least three different ways to access the trail:
  1. From the Lake Crabtree County Park. Park entrance is from Aviation Parkway.
  2. From Old Reedy Creek Road parking by the water treatment plant. Go through the parking lot gates and take the paved greenway around the southern edge of the lake for a clock wise loop, or go through another gate at the bottom of the dirt descent to the lake for a counter-clockwise loop.
  3. Via the Black Creek Greenway starting at Dynasty Road just of off Harrison Avenue. Take the paved greenway for 1.75 (or so) miles. The Lake Trail veers off to the left via a foot bridge. The trail junction is marked.

Lake Crabtree Parking Access

Monday, October 24, 2011

Cary (WakeMed) Soccer Park Trail Review

Cary (WakeMed) Soccer Park trails are the nicest I found so far for beginning barefoot running. I have been thinking of trying the William B. Umstead State Park bridle trails, but haven't gotten out there yet.

The surface is mostly packed dust with small rocks (quarter inch or so). Section of the trail that runs North of the parking lot used to be grass, but has been worn down to clay, sand and gravel. It can be easily avoided by running on adjacent grassy section. Otherwise, gravel is limited to small sections of trail where it is sparse enough to be avoided by careful foot placement.

The trail has a few short and not very steep hills. It tends to get washed out after heavy rain fall, but it seems that it gets filled in and repaired within a couple of days by whoever maintains it.

The large grassy area on the East side where the start (blue) and finish (yellow) markers are is very nice for drills or just to get off a hard surface.

Looking at the map shown below, the start is at the blue marker. It matches up with a light pole with all the electrical transformers under it. The first mile is marked by a blue trail, the second mile by a red one and the third miles by a green one. The finish, at 3 miles, is the yellow marker.

Follow the trail into the woods and hang a right at the first split following the blue line on the map. Loop around the trail, and as you come to T in the trail, take a left to head back to the grassy field. At the field hug the grassy outside. Follow the trail around the edges of the park. The finish is marked by a sign saying "3 miles."

Cary Soccer Park Trail Map

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On gravel

Last night, after getting through almost half of Barefoot Ken Bob's book, I resolved to run the neighborhood trail bare. This morning is the perfect running weather for me: 46F/8C, crisp and clear. But this is the coldest I've ever walked barefoot, let alone ran barefoot along a gravely trail.

Let me back up just a bit. Up to this point I logged a total of 8 miles barefoot. All 8 were run on a familiar trail that is mostly packed dust and grass, and all 8 felt pretty good. That was before I started reading Ken Bob's book. Now that I understood some of what his book teaches, I was eager to try it out on a trail with more character. And by "character", I mean gravel.

All things considered, the run went well. The 3/4-mile gravel section went better than expected. I was channeling Ken Bob and keeping my shoulders and calves relaxed and knees bent. As much as possible I kept my feet relaxed too, but the gravel definitely slowed me down quite a bit. It was somewhat painful but not enough not to be enjoyable on a level. I kept thinking that this could replace my morning coffee.

The gravel section is in the first mile of the trail, and the cool weather may have helped some also by keeping my feet numb. Once home, showered and warm, I can feel some sore spots on the bottom of the feet, but nothing that feels like an injury.

The amazing thing was my foot muscles and calves do not ache, like they have been so far during barefoot and minimalist shoe runs. I'll take this as an indication that I am grokking Ken Bob's advice and doing something right. That said, it will probably be a while before I run this trail again.