Running Happy at Eagle Creek

Every time I go running at Eagle Creek Park, I wish I lived closer to it and could get there more often.

Not only is it the largest park in Indy (1,400 acres), but it has so much variety: lots of woods, a beautiful lake, small ponds, playgrounds, a beach, a boat marina, nature centers and picnic pavilions.

Best of all, it has biggest network of trails in town: more than 10 miles of beautiful dirt paths. (Strangely, lots of people prefer to run on the park’s roads. But don’t get me started on that.)

For some reason, however, I haven’t visited Eagle Creek in ages, aside from a 15K trail race in March. The park is just far enough away, 16 miles of city driving, that it’s hard to get there as often as I’d like.

So I jumped for joy a few days ago when Kayleah (who signs all her e-mail “Just Run Happy”; very apt, because I’ve never seen her angry) invited me to join her for an hour or so on the trails at Eagle Creek.

Kayleah is a great person to run with — so friendly, upbeat and physically strong. But she’s primarily a road runner, and is always training for one marathon or another. So when she wants to do trails, Trail Boy drops what he’s doing and grabs his shoes.

I haven’t seen much of Kayleah since the Indy Marathon in October, when she was running the full 26.2 and I was just doing the half.

Today was the day for our little reunion. We had fun catching up after a long fall and winter of doing our own thing.

We ran and laughed and talked about running, our kids, our jobs, our friends. She showed me some bloody scabs on her leg, from a spill she took last weekend during a long training run. I showed her a scratch from my wipeout at a trail race last weekend. It was like a warriors reunion at the VFW hall.

The sun was shining and the park was full of people. We dodged lots of bird watchers and fishermen and dog walkers.

Kayleah and I are in different stages of training. She’s tapering for the Cincy Flying Pig Marathon in two weeks, so she wanted to do an easy eight-miler. I’m building up my distance for a 50K in July, so I wanted to run for two hours. Kayleah is running for speed. I’m running for endurance.

But our get-together felt wonderful.  We ran at the same pace and rejoiced over spring in the woods. We started out with the flat and easy on a groomed trail. Then we did a wide lake loop that takes in a scenic causeway, and then swings back into the hilly southern section.

Then we came back to the lake and ran the high ridgeline along the east bank, where you get the best views in the park, with the sun sparkling on the lake far below.

It’s still early in the season, but in the summer, you can often see sailboats and canoes and rowing shells on the lake. Nearly every nice weekend, there’s some kind of competition — running races, bike races, triathlons, rowing competitions. 

After about an hour and 20 minutes Kayleah called it a day, with eight miles under her belt. She took off and I set off to run another four or five miles alone. I ran a loop through a meadow, and did a second lake loop and ridgeline. I ran for two hours, or about 12-13 miles. It was my longest trail run in months, and left me all endorphined and upbeat. Or was it just Kayleah’s infectious love of running.

Whatever, we sure ran happy.

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One Response to “Running Happy at Eagle Creek”

  1. Nice!! My sentiments exactly! What a great day for trail running, a renewal of the running spirit and awesome company! Thanks for joining up with me! …and of course…justrunhappy my friend:)

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