Living in New York City, I don’t get that many opportunities to run on trails—the Bridle Path in Central Park is where I get my fix for dirt, rocks and maybe some mud after it rains. So when North Face asked me to join their Endurance Challenge Series at Bear Mountain State Park, I jumped at the chance. Not only was this my opportunity to run a new course (as an urban runner, I’m always looking for chances to keep my running routes fresh!), but in high school with my cross-country team Bear Mountain races were always my favorite. The park is gorgeous and the trails are ideal if you want that outdoor fix not far from the city.
Since my husband has recently picked up the sport of running (thanks to my reluctant nudging for him to do a triathlon with me—NYC Nautica 2012 here we come!), I signed him up as well. This would be his first race ever, unless we count the 10K he ran in elementary school he repeatedly pointed out. We made our way up to Bear Mountain from the city—a short trip by car or train—and I instantly got excited upon recognizing a place that looked basically the same as I last remembered it so long ago. We were set to do the 10K distance and knowing from the advice from trainers, this 10K would feel much longer and harder than a typical road race 10K would be. I knew from my April 2012 column on trail running (page 52) and the advice from Saucony coach Sharon Barbano that the tricks of the trail were to be followed: Take smaller strides for greater control on uneven terrain, pick up your feet more often than a typical stride and scan at least 10 feet ahead so I can see what’s coming up on the ground. I was pumped and ready to go.