I went for a run today at the state park closest to me. I kinda wanted to go to a different one but I got a late start and I didn’t really feel like using that much gas, so I settled for one near me that is not my favorite because 1)the trails are flat, 2) the trails are short, and 3) this park is not usually much of an adventure. But I ended up being blessed! Below are some photos I’ve taken on past visits.
It was cold and raining when I woke up but as I drove to the park, the outside temperature was literally rising before my eyes on the car thermometer. It was 50 degrees when I got to the park and I was very surprised to see a bunch of cars in the parking lot at the park entrance. I have a park pass which means I get in free, but I had to wait in line with the campers paying their fees. This park doesn’t have a lot to offer , in my opinion, as far as state parks go, other than nature walks in the forest, deer and other wildlife and pure camping experiences, no lake, no fishing, no climbing, no mountain views, no boating or swimming. What it does have is trails that tend to be flooded by the adjacent Brazos River or extremely humid conditions and mosquitoes. The whole park was under water twice in the past three years and I really thought they might just give up and close it but they didn’t. But city folks and RVers like it.
So anyway, I don’t come here that often but today I just wanted to get out of the house, and not into the gym, and go for a run in the forest. I had no real plan but as I was driving I remembered that I told myself that I wanted to run for two hours on one of my weekend days, so that became my vague plan. I wasn’t sure what to wear, remember it was 85 degrees here this week, so I was wearing a short sleeve tech shirt under a long sleeve tech shirt , Nike running tights, and gloves and a hat. I decided to shed the hat before I even started and the gloves went into my vest pocket after a few miles.
The first few minutes felt stiff and awkward, but I know the first mile is a liar so I tried not to let it freak me out. I forgot to mention that my back has been hurting this week and the last time I ran was Tuesday which means that I missed three days! By a half mile in I was feeling warmed up and then I started to see PEOPLE on my trail. A lot them. I say ‘my trail’ because I live so close ( around 20 miles away) and have run here many times, usually weekday mornings . There is hardly ever anyone here, but since I got started so late, around 11:00 AM, and it’s Saturday, the campers and hikers were stirring like ants. These people were walking on my trail, in fact they were standing on my trail talking, a group of hikers with a guide. The guide is a friend of mine and he told them to “Say Hi to Paula”, which I found very amusing! I politely said a few words to them and kept going knowing that I would see them again very soon because this trail was a dead end at the river overlook.
My run started feeling pretty good. I don’t usually listen to music on the trail and today was no different. I do a lot of thinking and praying and trying to stay focused on not tripping. I kept going, said hi to the hiking group again, and also passed a group of what looked like people from another country, maybe Chile or Brazil, some South American country , Spanish speakers, and they all had nice puffy jackets and their kids were walking pretty dogs on leashes. It was a big group and I had to get past them several times on my run. They were friendly and I tried to get past without bothering them. I heard one say something about ‘cansado’ which means tired. Not sure if they meant me or them.
The trail is a loop around the park and there are also some other trails called the lower trails that are currently closed due to flooded areas. It has been raining and raining and raining here in Texas. I went down a trail that leads to one of the closed trails and I just had to go past that little “Trail Closed” chain to see how the trail looked on the other side. Sorry, don’t yell at me, I know this park well. Happily, the trail was in really good shape except for that one little problem of the creek being over the trail in one spot. Running along through the tall trees on the quiet, leaf covered trail, I came upon some nice trail work that had been done on that section, two new boardwalks. I haven’t been in this part of the park in a few years due to the aforementioned flooding and it made me really happy to see some of my favorite giant trees. This park and I have a lot of history and it means a lot to me to see that the state has not given up on it. That history includes many runs with friends that I no longer run with, my first night run, volunteering for races, and watching people literally wade through waist and neck deep water in one famous race . I’ve learned to love and support all Texas State Parks because of this one.
So back to the run, I decided to keep run the loop and that out and back section, racking up as many miles as possible and then turn around and retrace my path back to my vehicle and then repeat, doing the math all along and figuring out how to get 10 miles in this tiny park. As I was running back I met up with two little boys, maybe 8-9 years old, walking on the trail alone. There were quite a few groups with kids out there that day, but these two were alone. Both of them looked right at me and started to talk so I stopped running and listened. They had seen me go by earlier and were interested in the fact that I was still running. I told them I was coming back around. Then they proceeded to give me instructions on where to go on the trail so I could be sure not to miss seeing the river. Thanking them with a smile I kept going, with new joy in my heart. What an uplifting moment! These two little boys gave me a real gift. It made me so happy that they were enjoying their hike so much and wanted to share it with a random stranger! This is what life is all about . God bless those boys and their parents! I got my 10 miles in, but these kids were the high point. Happy Running!