Last week a business trip took me to San Diego, California, where the weather is always perfect for running. On my first morning I met a friend for a 5 mile run along the bay. It was lovely, but I wanted to see more of San Diego, so on my second morning I convinced another friend to go for a run in Balboa Park.
We ran from our hotel to the park, and then studied the map at the park entrance to figure out a route. It was about 2 miles from our hotel to the park, we had plenty of time, and we both were up for about 7 miles, so we decided to try one of the longer routes.
We followed the sidewalk around the Naval Medical Center, picked up the path through the Rose Garden, and started down the trail thought the Cactus Garden (pictured above). When we got to the bottom of the hill, we weren’t sure where or how to pick up the trail on the other side of the road. We had seen other trails at the top of the Cactus Garden, so we ran back up the Cactus Garden switchbacks. We still weren’t sure where we were going, so we stopped a friendly-looking runner who told us that we should have kept going at the bottom of the hill.
So, back down we went to cross the road and run up the hill on the other side.
There were lots of trails and none seemed to be marked, so we followed another runner until we realized that she probably wasn’t going where we wanted to end up. We picked up another trail and ended up near the top of the park at the Morley Field Sports Complex. (It was an open area, so we could see all the options and used the Medical Center as a landmark for reference.)
I guess those dark green lines are the trails we should have been on!
There was another map near the sports complex, so we stopped to plot our route back. After debating the certainty of following a road versus the adventure of trying to find another trail, we opted for the trail.
This trail (green #12 down the center) was much more well-marked, but ended at the bottom of the Cactus Garden, which means we had to run up those switchbacks again! By this time I was torn between not thinking about food (because I was getting hungry) and thinking about the bacon I would have when I got back to the hotel.
By the time we got back, we had run 10 miles. We had dust on our shoes, smiles on our faces, and were in desperate need of coffee, showers, and bacon. Maybe my first trail run should have been better-planned, better-fueled, and shorter than 10 miles, but it certainly was fun!
Have you been on a trail run?
Have you ever gotten lost?