Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Hike, or a Training Walk?

Was yesterday's six miler a hike or a training walk / run?  Well, it had elements of both, so I decided to post it in my Hiking Blog rather than in Racing for a Cure.

With the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon just 17 days away, each training session seems important.  Although it is not easy to put in nine hours at work and then get six miles of training, I have to keep finding ways.  So yesterday, I set the alarm early and got into work by 6:30, which enabled me to knock off by 4.  I headed to the area where our Team in Training routes always start from, Byrd Park, and got started.  I had not mapped out a route but figured that if I went out for an hour and a half, mostly walking, I would cover about six miles.  I started out running but shortly into that switched back to walking because of knee pain.  Later in the six miles, I did do some run intervals, but probably ran no more than a mile of the six.

My first "stop" was the Pump House, which used to deliver drinking water to the city.  I've been by it many times on training runs with Team in Training but never explored around it, and this time, I detoured to see what the area is like.  It is on canals, and there are locks nearby.  This photo was taken from a footbridge going over the canal.  Think of the stone work to build this building back in the day!
 It turns out that there is a trail on the other side of the canal, and I followed it for a bit, heading in the up-river direction (I was very near the James River here, although I could not see it).  I came to a spot where there was a view up the canal to the distant railroad bridge, which has a beautiful classical style.  You can see one of this bridge's arches in the distance of this photo, snapped into the declining sun to the west.
 I wanted to explore more, but also needed to make sure I got in six miles, so I turned back and in a while, I reached the North Bank trail.  That, along with the Buttermilk Springs Trail, forms a nice seven or so mile loop along the river.  For much of it, you would have no idea that you are near a big city.

The North Bank Trail goes by the back side of Maymont, and comes out on a city street for a little while.  From that point, I turned back along the street and entered Maymont.  It is the former estate of the Dooley family, and they left it to the City of Richmond.  Now, it is a combination nature preserve - gardens - walking trails - historic buildings - generally peaceful spot.  I snapped a photo of this lovely herb garden, complete with an artist painting in the background and moved on to the ...

Italian Garden, which sits high above a water fall that flows down to the Japanese Garden.
I went down the steep slope, and found this nice grotto.  It would have been a nice spot to pray or reflect, but no time in my busy life for that just then.
I moved through the Japanese Garden, which is one of my favorite parts of Maymont.
It has the neat area where you can walk across the stones, which are not in a straight line so that your troubles cannot follow you.  Wouldn't that be nice?  See the colorful koi in the water near the first stone?
After a lot of walking and some running (and passing the pen where the bobcat supposedly lives, although once again, I didn't see him) I was moving uphill and took a picture of these cattle.  The last time I was here, a week or so ago walking with my friend Lelia, the employee with the hay was arriving and these two were going crazy with anticipation, mooing their heads off!
At this point, I moved along a side trail and captured these Sika deer.  They live in Japan but I have seen them in the wild.  They were introduced in coastal Virginia for hunting nearly 100 years ago, and still thrive there.  (Earlier in my hike / training walk, I snapped a picture of a wild creature that I will feature later in a What am I? post.)
From this point, I left Maymont shortly and crisscrossed around Byrd Park for a while to make sure I got in my full six miles.  Either my pedometer is not counting all my steps, or my stride is longer than what I have put in there, because it is under-counting miles by about 5-7 percent.  So I used my watch yesterday to approximate six miles.

Tonight, I go out for a few miles of training at the University of Richmond with some of my teammates.  As lovely as the weather is this week, I cannot wait!


  1. You took some beautiful photos there. I love the reflection in the first one and the second one looking at the arch over the water is my favorite.
    Of course I love the bulls too. I see lot of them around here!!
    Not many more days for training before the real thing!!

  2. Thanks. I like those two best also for the same reasons. I may go back to that spot some weekend when the sun is right and try another shot of the distant bridge.

    Yep just over two weeks away!