Running Across America

OK, I am not literally running the whole way across America. We are driving 2/3 of the way across America (from Pennsylvania to Colorado – 2,000 miles) and running at various stops along the way.

What follows is a journal from a few of our runs.

Meditations in Motion

Maumee, Ohio

Our first stop was in Maumee, just outside of Toledo, Ohio.

The run began on a pretty, shaded gravel towpath beside the Maumee River. It was hot and humid, even at 6:30 in the morning.

We saw three deer less than 10 feet from the path, one of them a faun still sporting his spots. When we ran past, they continued munching, unfazed. They must be used to humans hurling themselves along beside the river, panting and sweating at sunrise.

The towpath followed the river for a mile and a half, then turned onto a paved bike path in the town’s Metropark.

The paved path soon joined the famed Wabash Cannonball Trail, a rail-trail that stretches for 64 miles across northern Ohio.

We didn’t run the whole Wabash trail.

We just did a quick five-mile out and back, then returned to our car for the next leg of the journey.

Coralville, Iowa

Meditations in Motion

Our next stop was Coralville, Iowa, near Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes.

We began our run at the Tom Harkin Trailhead outside of town.

When we scouted out the area the day before, we saw a mixture of paved bike paths and dirt trails.

There were bathrooms, water fountains (not functional due to the pandemic), an air pump for pumping up bike tires, and trail maps at the trailhead, an excellent set-up.

The morning we arrived for our run was overcast, humid, and dripping rain, so we opted for The Clear Creek Trail, a paved path.

The gently rolling trail followed a creek (I’m guessing Clear Creek) through the woods, then passed through a field where a riot of wildflowers bloomed. It eventually wound its way past the rugby fields of the university. When the path emptied out onto a sidewalk next to a major road at the two-mile mark, we turned around and headed back to the trailhead for a total of slightly over four miles.

I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful run.

North Platte, Nebraska

Meditations in Motion

This was the easiest run of the trip and the one I liked least.

Despite searching online for a good place to run in North Platte, we came up empty. I am sure locals could have given us plenty of suggestions, but we wound up running about four miles out and back on the road next to our hotel.

It wasn’t terrible – the lightly traveled road passed hotels, RV campsites, a business park, a golf course, and the local brewery where we had eaten dinner the night before (if you ever find yourself in North Platte looking for a beer and some good grub, I highly recommend Peg Leg’s – they have a great outdoor space).

Most of the road, however, had little or no shoulder and it was pancake flat. After our last two runs at beautiful spaces, this one was sort of a let-down.

Meditations in Motion

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

We finally got to run at our destination, our son’s house in Colorado.

The scenery here is always beautiful. We have several different routes we follow when we visit.

My favorite, pictured above, is the most scenic and the most difficult. I don’t think I have ever done it without several (OK, many) walk breaks.

This run begins in a small park in the neighborhood, then transitions to a county road. The road is paved at first, dirt after about two miles.

Depending on how far we run on this hilly out and back course, the road climbs, climbs, climbs, winding past fields, ponds, small stands of trees, and ranches. I have seen deer and elk browsing near the road.

If you run far enough, the road drops several hundred feet in elevation, down to a creek where Sandhill Cranes can be seen at certain times of the year.

I always struggle when I run at elevation in Colorado. The first run is especially bad. This has gotten worse as I get older, so my long-held plans to run the Steamboat Marathon have been scuttled as a result.

Our first run this year was a three-miler, my minimum distance for any run. I needed no fewer than four walk breaks on this short run.

Meditations in MotionThe best scenery of all in Colorado is in this photo. Thin air is no problem for this guy. When I took this picture, I was standing at the top of the hill in the little park, trying hard to catch my breath after walking up the hill. My grandson easily bounded to the top without stopping, then turned around and flew back down, calling for us to follow.

I think he’s going to be a trail runner.

I hope he will sometimes slow down so I can keep up.

 

You can find the places I link up here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

89 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your trip with all of us who are so desperately missing GOING places — and what a creative way to stave off road-trip-induced creakiness! Kudos to you for making it 3 miles in CO — whenever we go there I’m always surprised to find myself huffing and puffing from just walking around downtown for the first couple of days. The pic of your grandson in that beautiful landscape is heartwarming.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Always a pleasure reading your posts. In the past I have enjoyed running in the places I visit. Higher elevation runs have left me struggling for my breathe i.e. Antelope Island and Zion, UT. I grew up there, but didn’t pick up running until I was in my 20’s in WA State. Colorado sounds lovely… breathtakingly lovely (couldn’t help the pun πŸ˜‰ I hope your grandson takes full advantage of one of the best places to train to run. Glad to hear you made it to your destination safely.

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    • We have been at elevation for a week and I am still breathing hard and taking walk breaks on every run. It certainly is a beautiful place to run, though! Washington state and Utah are also gorgeous!

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  3. Have you tried contacting a running store to see if they could make a recommendation? I know if someone from out of state asked me, I’d struggle to narrow my suggestions down to just one or two routes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is a great idea, Jeff. We have done that in the past but I didn’t think about it on this trip. When we were sitting at the brewery having dinner, I was eavesdropping on the table next to us. It was a small group of people planning how to proceed with a trail race during the pandemic. I would have loved to have asked them about route recommendations but I didn’t have the nerve.

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  4. Sounds like your “run across America” was fun, especially the Metropark you had mentioned to me before. I’d be ecstatic to see fawn, deer or elk grazing along the pathway and Sandhill Cranes in the distance … stop my beating heart! Well YOUR heart was beating fast when you saw your grandson and that made your 2,000-mile trip seem like child’s play. I guess Atti could/should be a trail runner – he has his grandparents’ genes. Enjoy your visit Laurie.

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    • I love exploring new places, especially beautiful ones like here in Colorado. We have been enjoying our visit immensely, Linda. I am so glad we decided to make the trip. This morning on our run, 3 sandhill cranes flew by very close to us. I was wishing I could have snapped a photo, but I don’t run with my phone.

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      • That’s good you went Laurie. And, you didn’t have to worry about plane travel and got to see sights along the way. I’ve never seen a sandhill crane – they are in Michigan, but more in the northern suburbs.

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      • I am so glad we came. We are going to leave to come home soon, which always makes me sad. I am gald we are supposed to come back in October, but who knows what the country will be like by then?

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      • You made some memories for Atti’s birthday and that’s what counts. Will you plan to drive again in October Laurie – probably safer, as who knows where we will be in another three months.

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      • I don’t know what we will do in October, Linda. It is so hard to make plans since we don’t know what the situation will be. Right now, I think we will drive, but if the situation gets better, we might fly (our original plans. made before the virus). If it gets worse, we might not go at all. We will decide closer to the date of our trip.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s better and make no definite promises – it gets snowy that time of year as well, so more angst besides just the pandemic. Everything is so iffy right now. Last year you had that fun Thanksgiving – maybe next year that kind of get together can happen again.

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  5. Whoa…you were in Coralville??? That’s only an hour east of where I live (Grinnell). Dang. Are you coming back through this way, or taking another route (to hit a few different states)? I love running in new places, especially when we’re traveling. It’s the best way to explore, right? Enjoy your time with the family!

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  6. Steamboat is awesome!! I don’t think I ran any races when we lived in CO but we camped there twice. Nice Alpine Slide and a Botanical Gardens. We enjoyed our visits to this area. I met a bunch of interesting people at our camp sites. Enjoy Colorado because it is beautiful!

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    • I love coming here except for the thin air. It makes it tough to run for this flatlander! It certainly is beautiful. We have been coming here for almost 30 years!

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  7. Thanks for sharing! I’m glad you made it out there safely. I agree 3 miles is the minimum mileage needed to warrant me lacing up my running shoes. I’ve ran single or two miles but only as a warmup for other workouts.

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  8. Oh, wow! What a road trip! I guess that’s one way to get to CO without getting on a plane. I love that you did those runs β€” I probably would just want to get back on the road, but would miss out. Enjoy your grandkids! ❀

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  9. Thank you for taking us along on the journey! I love the picture of the flowers, the one looks like it is dancing, the “pose” almost made me think of Staying Alive/Saturday Night Fever. Never saw the movie, oh, the flower is a “posey poser”. The place names you share are their own poetry and history. Most glad that you got to spend time with your family! Blessings, Michele

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  10. When I read that the easiest track was also the one you enjoyed least, I thought it was only because it offered no challenges, but when you compare d it to the others, I completely got it.
    I thought your grandson was a toddler yet.

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  11. You two are dedicated to your running ! And you made great time (on the cross country drive … I have no idea about your runs ). So glad you made it safely and what a joyful reason to make the trip (your handsome little marathoner-to-be and , I’m sure, his parents also. ) I know what you mean about the thin air in CO …a big contrast when we visit our son and DIL there (from either Florida or Oregon). Enjoy your visit,

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  12. What a great idea, Laurie … taking run breaks at various stops along the way. Running in Colorado among all that scenery must be amazing, even with the walk breaks. (And of course, your young running companion makes it all the better, I’m sure!)

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