National Park Week run

Given that April 20-28 is National Park Week, and given that I live just 5.85 sidewalk-and-bike-path miles from the visitors center of Scotts Bluff National Monument, I decided to make the monument my destination on my long run yesterday.

Bonus: SBNM has drinking fountains and a public restroom, and I could accomplish an errand on my to-do list and purchase my 2013 National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass.

I wound up running 11 miles instead of my scheduled 10. (“I’m good enough, I’m tough enough, and, doggone it, I’m stubborn!” was my mantra for the run, along with the word “fierce.”)

The run went well, I think in part because it was mostly downhill on the way back (total climb: 496 feet), and also because I got a shot of carb energy with a Gu halfway through the run. It’s been a long time since I’ve run far enough to justify calorie consumption mid-run. I forgot how much of a boost it can be when I’m flagging. (Note to self: a Gu with a use-by date of 2008 seems to work as well as a fresh one.)

I was also buoyed by the scenery. How can you not be uplifted in surroundings like this?

Scotts Bluff National Monument. One of the few photos uploaded with a large file size so you can click to see more detail.

Scotts Bluff National Monument. One of my few photos uploaded with a large file size so you can click to see more detail.

I was also psyched to see a flock of mountain bluebirds along the pathway at SBNM. I didn’t get a photo, as they were pretty flighty, so I’ll post an image from the Nebraska Bird Library:

Male mountain bluebird photo by Phil Swanson

Male mountain bluebird photo by Phil Swanson

As long as I’m tapping the library, here’s an image of another bird I saw during the run, on Terry’s Lake – a western grebe. (As least I think the four birds I saw were western grebes. It’s possible they could have been Clark’s grebes.)

Western grebe image by Phil Swanson

Western grebe image by Phil Swanson

When you’re running for 2 hours and 15 minutes, it sure helps to have distractions like those along the way.

Yesterday after the run, my legs were quite sore and I had difficulty navigating stairs. Today, after about 10 hours of sleep, the soreness is all gone. Sleep can be so magically restorative!

Copyright 2013 by Katie Bradshaw, except photos as credited

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