Fourth of July, another family holiday spent home alone. I’ve been separated for more than a year, and divorced for about 7 months. To help me through the painful part of my journey, and to rediscover what I missed during my long marriage, I’ve re-integrated running into my life. Holidays are particularly painful, and therefore running on holidays takes on special importance and meaning. I decided to venture beyond Waveny Park, my home away from home, and drive to Larkin State Park in Southbury, Connecticut, for a 10-mile long run on the Fourth of July.
Larkin State Park Trail, Connecticut
The 10.3 mile Larkin State Park Trail originates in the glory days of the railroad in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. When New York and New England Railroad completed this section of its western expansion in 1881, the Larkin State Trail connected Waterbury, CT with Brewster, NY. In 1943, years after abandonment, the trail was gifted to the state by Dr. Charles Larkin for the purpose of creating a state park and bridle trail.
Long Run on Fourth of July
On this hot and humid Fourth of July, with temperatures in the 90’s and the humidity raised by various bodies of water along the trail, I drove to one of the trail heads on Route 188 (Strongman Road) in Southbury, CT. There is a small parking lot on the side of the road that is not well-marked and easy to miss. After stretching in the parking lot, I wanted to head west on the trail towards the town of Southbury, but it took me several minutes to find the trail on the opposite side of Route 188. One of only two complaints I have is that the trail crossings over several main roads are not well-marked, and I had to stop at each crossing and use Google maps to pick up the trail on the opposite side, and then resume running once I crossed the roads.
Heading west on Larkin State Park Trail is a single-track trail that eventually widens, before it narrows again back to a single-track trail. Short sections of the trail climb and descend, run along a dry and rocky riverbed, or contain some roots and rocks. Nothing too technical. After about 2 miles, the trail becomes completely overgrown, with plants up to 5-6 feet tall closing off passage. This was my only other complaint. It would’ve taken a machete to traverse this section of the trail (if I lived closer, I would volunteer to maintain the trail), and I was concerned about ticks on the leaves finding their way onto my sweaty body. Ugh. No choice but to turn around and explore the trail in the opposite direction.
Once I arrived back at the parking lot (about 4.5 miles into my run), I continued east towards Naugatuck, and the trail consisted of a meandering wide trail packed with dirt and cinders. I was able to develop a steady rhythm and clock off the miles at a low 8 minute per mile pace. My goal was to run 10 miles in under 90 minutes, slower than normal, but recognizing the heat and humidity and unfamiliar terrain warranted an adjustment. I was still suffering from plantar fasciitis, and although it wasn’t too painful during the run, it was there in my subconscious and not helpful. Having calculated my turnaround point to achieve 10 miles, I crossed Christian Street near the Waterbury-Oxford Airport, made a U-turn, and headed back to the parking lot.
Long Run Summary
I completed the 10-miler in 1:25:32 averaging about 8:33 per mile. As mentioned above, I had to stop several times to cross main roads and reconnect with the trail. Elevation gain was 393 feet. It was a hard effort, and my average 164 HR and max 182 HR confirmed the distance, terrain and weather conditions made for a hard effort. I plan to run the Larkin State Park trail again this Sunday, and stay to the east of the parking lot so I should be able to run continuously and develop a better rhythm.
My splits are as follows: 9:08, 8:24, 9:01, 8:47, 8:15, 8:12, 8:37, 8:21, 8:24, 8:20.
Another Step on my Journey
Re-hydrating from a cold insulated bottle in my car never felt so good. I was drenched and lost a lot of water during my run, and most likely under-hydrated (and under-fueled) before I started, so getting some water inside my body was crucial to recovery. I changed shirts, hopped in my car, and headed home knowing that on this Fourth of July holiday, I took another step on my journey of healing from separation and divorce.