My second full marathon is less than a month away, so when I signed up for four days of classes in Carlsbad, California, I knew I still had to get my run in. Being so close to the taper, I just had two 5 mile runs to keep this week. Earlier this spring, I visited Carlsbad for the same reason and enjoyed a couple of runs along the sea wall – one in Carlsbad and one at the Strand in Oceanside. But it was summer now and after one run along the ocean, I realized it was 1) too hot and 2) not enough space to run. The so-called sea wall is only 1.5 miles long! With 3x that on the books, I wasn’t excited to do it again. So the next day, I began a search for a new route.
I could’ve run directly from the Airbnb, but it was somewhere between a neighborhood and shopping centers and wasn’t that appealing. Plus I usually don’t have the freedom of driving a car, so I searched a bit online and found that someone had run just over 5 miles around a green space 15 minutes away. I drove over the crazy California hills and upwards til I found a little business park that was closing down for the evening. I found parking easily, did some stretches right there on the sidewalk, and took off towards the green on my map.
Thankfully, it was a cooler up in the mountains so I didn’t mind the uphill trek for a half mile. The route seemed to go along a golf course tucked into a fancy neighborhood. Tropical flowers were in full bloom and squirrels scurried across sidewalks as luxury sports cars zoomed past. And then the sidewalk ended. I stopped, confused, and checked my map again. I turned back and ran the .05 back down the hill to find a sign prohibiting the golf club trail use to non-members.
Okay, now where was I going to run? The sidewalk didn’t exist along the foresty roads and cars were speeding past at dangerous speeds. I turned back towards my car and took a random direction down a sidewalk.
I’d finally hit 1.5 miles and I was running out of sidewalk again when I crested a hill and saw this beautiful sight!
A track! A safe place to run! I never thought I’d be so lucky. There was only one problem: the gate was locked. I went around a ways, behind a building, to the other gate, but it was locked too. I glanced around the parking lot, half full of clean white trucks with official logos on them. There was no one around… What should I do? I decided to step inside the building and ask whoever was there if I could use the track. As I was walking in, a friendly-looking lady walked out. She slowed, eyeing me in my run gear.
“Are you looking for the restroom?” She asked, making me think she was locking up for the night.
“No, I’m visiting from Seattle and I was just wondering if I could use the track.”
She explained that it stays locked, that locals can’t even use it.
“But I see people jump the fence all the time and I think, Be careful! There’s cameras, but I don’t think anyone will pull you off.”
I laughed, thanked her, that was all the green light I needed. As she left, I decided to do something the Old Me, the Pre-Runner Me, never would’ve done.
I jumped the fence.
And I was free! The sun came out, but the air remained cool. I was a happy chicken.
I noticed right away that the track was short, only .20 instead of .25, and it was a bit of a mind f@ck to have to run 5 laps per mile instead of 4. Out of the sun and heat of the beach, I was able to run at a nice clip – a whole minute faster. At one point, a fireman from the station next to the track unlocked the gate and I thought with mild annoyance that he might tell me to leave. But he just walked it himself, making no gesture towards me at all so I continued on for another 20 minutes.
I finished my run feeling like I’d really achieved a solid workout, having the reserves to put in more effort without being drained by the sun. I even ran .25 farther than planned as I trekked back to the car. I know it’s not always easy to stay dedicated when traveling so I was proud of myself for being a little adventurous and not letting a few minor setbacks stop me from getting in my workout. Just another way running has changed my life!
What’s the most interesting place you’ve run while traveling? I’d love to hear it!