Training: The Dark Side of the Trail

Running Safety in Numbers

You never know who or what will emerge from the weeds.

You know how you’re not really supposed to run alone because you don’t know what you’ll come across? Well, this was one of those weeks.

Our Team in Training route took us along the north end of the Iron Horse Trail. Now, the IHT is a great paved bike and pedestrian trail that’s along an old railway line (hence the “iron horse” reference) that runs nearly 30 miles between Dublin and Concord. We use the different parts of this trail all the time.

But up on the north end, it runs through a more industrial area, next to a little airstrip filled with tiny Cessna propeller planes. Between the trail and the airport is a weed covered gulch that camouflages a fairly significant homeless encampment.

Positives of this part of the trail: not running on the streets. Negatives of this trail: strange dudes emerge from the underbrush, muttering obscenities.

Fun times.

The Bridge of Death.

We were all safe, and on a trail with the kind of traffic that this one gets, I can’t imagine that anyone would get hurt. Nonetheless, there’s something deeply disconcerting about muttering strangers or the two sets of not-entirely-camouflaged eyes staring from the weeds. Definitely not my favorite run of the season.

Along this route, we have to cross a bridge. There are signs painted under this bridge that say “No Camping.” Every time I see that, I think of a Monty Python-style troll guarding the bridge (skip to the 1:00 mark). “What… is your name? What… is your quest? What… is your favorite color?” I can’t get it out of my head.


My IT band was relatively cooperative this week, although not as good as last week. Today I logged about 4+ miles (Runkeeper’s GPS tracking was wonky) with a lot of walking, but it still felt good to get out there and work out with the team.

I also did two TRX-based strength and stretching workouts at the gym earlier in the week, following my PT exercises to keep everything strong and flexible.

On Friday — which is supposed to be my weekly day off, according to the Team calendar — I woke before 4:00 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. At 4:20 I decided to abandon my tossing and turning and head to the pool at the gym. Between 4:30 and 5:00 AM, 15 people came and went from the pool. Who are these people and what are they doing up at that hour? Of course, none were particularly good swimmers, so maybe they use the same theory that I do: only go early so you don’t have to share a lane with a speed demon.

Whatever these weeds are, they’re an allergy nightmare.

Much to my surprise, though, not a single other person used the outdoor hot tub. To me, watching the moon and stars from the pre-dawn comfort of the hot tub is the only reason to go to the pool in the first place. Oh, and fitness. (But really, hot tub.)

Next weekend is our annual combined Bayside/Diablo Valley Honoree Potluck at Redwood Park in Oakland, which means the full combined team (200+ runners) running trails and hills before hunkering down for food and inspiration as our team honorees tell their stories. It will be an emotional and tiring day, but it’s a good reminder of why we’re out there, fundraising and making a difference.

What workouts do you have planned for the coming week?

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