Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Satisfying the Trail Gods

Shortly after taking advantage of the early retirement offered by the Iowa DNR, I began to spend extra time during the daylight hours out on the trail.  It had been painfully clear, for years, that some others out using the trails had little respect for keeping their trash for proper disposal.  Paper, bottles, cans, and numorous cigarette butts were very haphazardly thrown along the trail with no regard.

I began to pick up any of the deposit cans and bottles...often resulting in quite a handful,  I found I can easily carry at least a six-pack with 3 in each hand and perhaps more if I find plastic bottles and use the narrow tops in a cluster.

I then realized the hypocrisy of only picking the trash that I could recycle for cash.  So I began to carry three plastic grocery bags on each run in order to also gather trash and recyclables in addition to redeemables.  This was to be my attempt at keeping the trail gods happy.  Unfortunately, I can fill the bags more often than not.  Sometimes within 24 hours of the same route!

Another attempt at satisfying the trail gods has been my compulsion to clear natural debris from the trails.  This is most commonly windfall branches or trees.  The crew from the county does a great job of keeping their portions of the trail clear but may take a few days to get out depending on when the wind hits.  The city park portion of the trail takes a very long time to get a crew out.  In many cases, I'm confronted by the fallen tree soon after the wind or storm that caused it.  I've surprised myself at how the short stop to move the obstruction can accomplish much in the way of clearing the trail.

The weather was quite nice today and I found several cans and bottles out around the quarry trail.  I was very encouraged by running nearly the entire way except for the pavement at the start and finish (I'm less than a mile from the trailhead but it's all city street) and the brief stops to gather trash and clear a couple windfalls.  Also stopped to talk briefly with Jenn Yohn, who was running back in the opposite direction, and she mentioned that she and Todd Juhlin are headed to Houston next week to watch the US marathon trials.  She has a friend from Arizona competing.  Jenn said she and Todd may run the half although Jenn is entered in the marathon.  I am soooo jealous that they get to be there for the trials.

13 miles on the day.  This includes a 1 mile walk with my wife as recovery from the extra running effort.

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