A beautiful morning for 20 miles

Is this a race? No, just hundreds of runners on the towpath, enjoying the beautiful morning. I was one of them.

Moms, dads, kids, old people -- everyone was out today.

What a great day to run. People were out in full force today, soaking up the wonderful weather.   

The skies were blue. A gentle cool wind was blowing. The trees were flowering. The birds were singing.    

It was a picture postcard day. There was no excuse not to hit the trails.    

Yes, I was running on dirt, of course — the Central Canal Towpath. It’s a groomed, winding, scenic, flat path, with a dirt and crushed-limestone surface. It runs behind Butler University and the Indy Museum of Art, along with a few residential areas.    


The trail is five miles long, end to end. My plan was to run it out and back twice, for 20 miles.    

It would be my longest run in months. In recent weekends, I have run 10, 12, 14 and 15.5 miles (the Fools 25K trail race).    

I must say, I almost didn’t make it to the towpath. I was tempted to join some other friends on rugged hiking trails today. A few friends were running on the Knobstone Trail, the longest and toughest hiking trail in Indiana, about 90 miles south. And the DINO crowd was holding a 15K trail run on the hilly trails in Washington Park in Avon, about 20 miles west.    

I would have a great time at either place. I went to bed last night not knowing where I would wind up this morning.    

But when I woke up, I knew that if I didn’t get in 20 good miles, I would never be ready for Cleveland. So I drove about four miles to the towpath, and got ready to run for 3 for 3 1/2 hours.   

I ended up running by myself. But I certainly wasn’t alone. The beautiful morning brought out hundreds of other runners and walkers to the towpath. I’m sure there were thousands more on other trails, paths and roads around town.    




I started the first segment at about 8 a.m., carrying a camera to capture some of the spring sights. My plan was to snap a few shots on the first 10 miles, then stash my camera and run harder on the second 10 miles.    

There were all kinds of people out: families, friends, fast runners, slow walkers. We all enjoyed the great outdoors.    

Here are my splits:    

First five miles: 45:38    

Second five miles: 49:01 (lots of quick stops for photos)    

Third five miles: 44:41    

Fourth five miles: 44:24 (best of the lot)    

Total time: 3:03:46    

I felt strong to the end, and even picked up the pace a little in the last two miles. Maybe next week, I’ll push a little harder, right from the start.    

Funny thing about that 3:03 time. That’s exactly the time I had at the Fools 25K two weeks ago, on a course that was shorter by about four miles, although tougher with hills and mud. I guess the hilly trails are giving me a little strength for the flatter workouts.    

Next weekend, I plan to run 22 miles. I can only hope for the same great weather we had today.    



The big wooden deck in Broad Ripple, near the north end of the towpath,  is a magnet for runners and cyclists. It’s fun to rest there for a few minutes and watch the world go by.    


It’s a starting and ending point for the towpath. After you hit the end, you can turn right or left and run on the Monon Trail, a paved multi-purpose trail.    

The Monon is popular, and it’s good to see people out running. But every time I see someone running on the Monon, I want to grab them and drag them to the towpath. I wonder if they know it even exists.    

The towpath, people! Try it! It’s beautiful. And it has dirt!    

What happens when you hit Mile 0.00? Do you die?


2 Responses to “A beautiful morning for 20 miles”

  1. A couple years ago I ran from IUPUI along the river then up the canal towpath to Broad Ripple and back. I did that early on a Saturday morning. After I move to Carmel in May I’m thinking about running that route up to the Monon and then north on the Monon to home. It will be about 15 miles. I wonder if how safe it would be to do that after work.

    • Sounds like a good course. I’ve run the Monon from downtown to Broad Ripple after work, and never had a problem, even through the tougher sections of town. It’s the haze and setting sun that’s always been a challenge, not the people.

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