Walk in the Park

Yesterday, I managed to traverse EIGHT miles. Yes, that’s right – EIGHT! And, how, you may ask, did I manage this on a day other than long run day?

In addition to my 5-miler, I took Belle to a local park/nature preserve that has a lovely walking path exactly 5 km in length. She was quite pleased! She is starting to get to be “middle-aged” now (she is probably 5 or 6), so I sometimes worry about over exerting her. I used to walk her AT LEAST a mile every day when we first got her – now, on our boring walks near the house, she usually gets really worn out from something like that so I’d say her normal walks are closer to 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile. Still, she always amazes me on things like hikes or walks in new places – 2 miles in she was still doing “zoomies” and pulling me up hills.

Of course the first thing she did was roll in the dirt when we got there.

Look at that pibble smile!

You can’t tell in the picture, but at this point we were over 2 miles through and I let her go down to a creek for a drink and instead she pulled me around the forest doing zoomies.

The point where I decided that just brushing off the dirt from the initial roll wouldn’t be good enough and she would need a bath – I thought that letting her get in the water would wash off the swamp dirt she accumulated previously, but it just made her muddier. #whitedogproblems

The park we went to is really cool. As I mentioned before, it is a nature preserve, which is kind of nice on its own, but what really makes this park neat is its location: it is pretty much right in the city, but you wouldn’t even know it most of the time (except that you can hear the cars zooming by…). For context, here are two pictures I took right after entering the park: the first image is the view to my left, and the second image is the view (about 3 steps ahead) to my right.

Observe: four lane highway, billboards, and trainyard.

Observe: swampland with birds and bugs and all that fun naturey stuff.

The park also functions as a flood control device for the city. When the creek that runs through the park floods, water from it flows into the swampland and then into a large tunnel that they built under the park through the large pipe-like thing that is pictured below. This isn’t the main river in the city, which can still flood (and has), but apparently this little creek thing would pretty much be constantly overwhelming one of the main roads nearby if it wasn’t for this device. I am pretty glad for it, because that road manages to still flood quite frequently, and I can’t imagine how much more frequent it would be without a flood control device!

Water goes through the top of this pipe down into a tunnel underground.

They also seem to get the community really involved with this park. For example, every year they host a family “triathlon.” I can’t remember the distances, but basically they have whole families come out and “run” (these are like 5 year olds with their parents), bike, and canoe through the park. I went there once with my husband and Belle during it and it seemed like a great, fun family event. They also had a bunch of art projects that local schools had built in the park incorporating the natural surroundings. I missed at least one, because I didn’t realize how many more there would be , but here are a few pictures to show you how cool this was:

Additionally, have I mentioned that despite its other flaws (of which there are many), Harrisburg is actually a fantastic city for runners? Keep in mind that this park is exactly 5 km – it is obviously used frequently for races and I saw numerous runners there yesterday. I thought about driving out there (it is like 5 minutes from my house) to run there today instead of my normal 3 mile route, but the park is really hilly and I pushed too hard on the hills on my last long run and I’m still having pain, so I wanted to avoid hills as much as possible.

I almost did it, though. Every time I come to this point in the park I just look down that completely straight tree lined path and have an intense desire to run it. I know it would be a fantastic route if not for the hills (not pictured).

Plus, if you want to go further, Harrisburg has something called the “Capital Area Greenbelt.” If you look closely at the pictures of the art, you can see that there is a sign for this in one of them. The greenbelt is a series of paved (or at least gravel) paths the whole way around and through parts of the city. I can’t remember exactly how many miles it is right now, but I think it’s something like 20. It is an amazing feature for anyone who likes to bike or run, or even just for people who want to go to the park  – the path is pretty much surrounded by park-like area and as it goes through the whole city, there are pretty nice parks pretty much everywhere you go. They also have nice features in these parks. For example, there are also fitness stations all along it where residents can do things like pullups and bench dips as they walk/bike/run through the park without going to the gym to do these things. Anyway, how does this relate to the park I was at? Well, the path at this park links up to the normal greenbelt, meaning that it is connected to any location in the city and would allow many runners to easily incorporate these less urban paths into their routes (the path I normally run on is beside one of the busiest roads in the city and therefore slightly less pleasant). In fact, Belle and I got slightly lost by accidentally wandering out onto the greenbelt because I wasn’t paying attention! I started to suspect that we had left the park when we walked under a highway, and my suspicions were confirmed when the trashcans switched from having “county parks and recreation” to “Harrisburg City” printed on them. Oops! I guess our walk was slightly more than 3.11 miles…

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