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Happy Trails

Posted by Matt Fitzgerald Mar 24, 2009


I am in the process of movingspecifically, from an apartment in downtown San Diego to another apartment in the Rancho Penasquitos area of San Diego. For endurance athletes like us, a change of home addresses is also a change of exercise environments. The wisest and/or more compulsive among us factor exercise environmental considerations heavily into their relocation decisions. I certainly have done so (whether through wisdom or compulsiveness it is not for me to say)for example when I convinced  my wife to move with me into an apartment complex that had its own lap pool. Others just hope for the best and simply find out what sort of exercise environment they have put themselves into after their move is completed. But no amount of preparatory research can prepare you fully for what it will be like to train in a new area.



The main factors that my wife and I considered in choosing our new home were location, the size and quality of the apartment itself, and price. Our new place is closer to my office, twice the size of our downtown apartment, and $900 per month cheaper. I did not think about the exercise environment much except to note that there is an L.A. Fitness facility with an indoor lap pool located smack between the apartment complex and my office. I will join it just as soon as I get home from the Boston Marathon and start training for Ironman Arizona in earnest.



I had heard that there are extensive trails in Rancho Penasquitos, and I had hoped that what I had heard was true, because at first glance Rancho Penasquitos does not look like a very nice place to run. It's extremely hilly and most of the roads are very highly trafficked. The closest flat stretch to run on is Mira Mesa Boulevard, which is strip mall ****. So I took a leap of faith in moving to that area.



Yesterday evening I went for my first run there--an easy 10-miler. I left the apartment complex and made a right turn on a road that took me up a long, steep hill. When I got to the top I saw nothing but other big hills all around me (my choice: up or down). I found a small park and ran a few desultory laps around a baseball field, fearing that I was going to absolutely hate running in my new neighborhood. Then I decided to see if I couldn't find those trails. I bombed back down that long, steep hill and made a turn onto the road that seemed most likely to lead to the trails I had been told of. Sure enough, I was scarcely three miles into my run (and less than three-quarters of a mile from where I had started) when I stumbled into a vast nature preserve.



Moments later I was pacing along a beautiful equestrian trail leading into the wildernessan equestrian trail with actual horses and riders on it! I ran three miles out and there was still no end in sight when I turned around and headed back home. The trail wasn't perfectit had some rocky sections and a few short technical stretches that brought me to a near standstill, but even so, I haven't had such easy access to a natural running environment such as this in a very long time. And I have a feeling that there are many more delightful trails in the area that I am soon to discover.



Suddenly I'm really looking forward to the run training that I will do this summer in preparation for Ironman Arizona!



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