Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My central Florida running haven

As often as possible, I take Coco, my chocolate lab and tireless running partner, to run in Wekiwa Springs State Park.  On New Year's Day she covered her longest run yet -- 12 miles -- and still had energy to spare.

The park offers a great network of running and biking trails in the Wekiwa River basin.  Some of the trails consist entirely of sugar sand and some are laden with so many tree roots that you have to take caution with every step to avoid twisting an ankle.  However, once you get past some of the more challenging trail segments, there are blissful pine needle-covered trails that are perfect for running.

While the terrain can make for a slow run, hitting the trails gives my legs a break from the asphalt roads that are the site of roughly half of my running workouts. Equally important, I have found that trail running, and being encapsulated in nature, refreshes my mind. When I'm running in the woods and sub-tropical swamps of WSSP, the pressures of the world seem to disappear.

Running at WSSP can be a muddy adventure, especially in low-lying areas closer to the Wekiwa River and its tributaries and during the rainy summer season.  My pup loves the mud pits -- she knows where they are, and as soon as we get close to them she bolts ahead to roll in them until I catch up with her.  Thankfully, there are clear, spring water pools and a camp site spigot available to clean her up before we load up in the car.

The dirt aftermath of my WSSP run on January 1, 2012

Wekiwa Springs State Park trail map. See full-sized image.

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