Despite not racing this weekend, it doesn’t mean that we get the weekend off from running. Just because we’re away from home doesn’t mean we get to skip out on running either. In fact, running in new places is one of the reasons we travel to some of the places that we do. This trip wasn’t focused on visiting a cool running destination, but we still decided to check out what we could in the area.
One of the reasons that I picked the hotel that I did in Middleton, WI is because there was a bike path running right next to the hotel that, after 2 miles, dumped into a fun area called Pheasant Branch Conservancy. The path leading up to the Conservancy was a standard paved path, but once I got into the nature area it was all crushed rock trail, and as I discovered in my run, some cool grass paths.
My plan had been to run to the park, run three of the 3.3 miles loops around the park, and then run back to the hotel. My wife was going to do similar, but only run two loops. The run up to the park was uneventful, and once I found the main path within the park area the first loop went by very quickly and smoothly. As I was running along the north side of the park I saw some of the grass trails leading into an area that was notable for what is called Frederick’s hill. On my first loop I bypassed all of the northern sections and simply continued onward along the crushed rock loop. The main trail was very flat, and easy running. Having come off of a big race weekend, I took it easy and kept to a somewhat slower pace.
I found my way back to the beginning of the loop and decided, for a change, to turn around and do the loop backwards. That would give me a chance to see the trail from the other direction, and I would most likely bump into my wife partway through the loop. As I approached the half-way mark of the return loop my phone beeps with a text message. I checked the message and it was my wife telling me that I absolutely had to try out the grass trail that went up the big hill, as it was an amazing view. I proceeded to where the grass path started and met up with my wife as she was coming down the hill.
It was at that point I decided to make an executive decision to shorten my run to just two loops and try out this hill my wife suggested. We parted ways and she told me to enjoy it and go get lost (in a good way!). I started trudging up the hill, experiencing the best elevation that this area could offer, and found myself needing to walk the last portion to the summit. It was only about 200ft to the top, but the climb was solid, but fun.
As I reached the summit there is a small trail that runs a circle around the top before heading back down. I stopped and took some pics of the beauty of the area, and found myself on the tallest point as far as I could see. It was truly a beautiful sight, and a beautiful morning to enjoy it on. I decided to head down via a different path than the one I took up, and got to experience a short singletrack section complete with makeshift stairs as I controlled my descent to the bottom. I took a side path that brought me through some beautiful prairie area that was tall and lush before meeting back up with the crushed rock trail.
I headed back down the trail, and about a half mile from the hotel I caught up to my wife who had finished her run for the day. We walked the last bit together and enjoyed a nice hotel breakfast before showering and getting ready for the day. I didn’t get the full 14-16 that I wanted to get today, but considering a full night of traveling and all the running I did last weekend, I’ll take the 12 that I cranked out. It was a fun morning of exploration and experiencing a whole new area I’ve never been to before. Despite not being as fast as I wanted, I enjoyed the run, which is a good place to be in.