Trail Running the Old Fort Ord

Danger! Triathlons on the calendar are closer than they appear … Case in point, I spent several months thinking that the 70.3-distance tri that I had signed up was in October, only to discover when they sent me an update that it was actually in September. There’s nothing like a little panic to motivate one to train more consistently, and so the past few weeks I have been lacing up the sneakers and getting out to do some trail running in the Old Fort Ord. The views are beautiful, the hills are killer, and every once in a while I stumble across a tidbit of military history.

Running the trails at Fort Ord, finding interesting things to look up on the Internet when I get home…

I’m still getting familiar with the network of trails that make up the Fort Ord National Monument, which means that every so often I’ll come across an old, wood structure that used to be part of an Army obstacle course, or something like this sign that I have to go home and find out more about. In this case, it turned out that SGT Allan MacDonald was a veteran of WWII and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. Like myself, he was a NJ transplant. He was also a horse cavalryman, one of the last now that their numbers have dwindled to the ceremonial horse platoon at Fort Hood. Speaking of Fort Hood, it also turns out that SGT MacDonald was a member of 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, the “Black Knights,” which was the unit my spouse was assigned to when he first commissioned as an armor officer and we were assigned to Fort Hood. I learned all this information from an article in the Monterey Herald, which was printed on the occasion of SGT MacDonald’s passing at the age of 92.

One of the occupational hazards of training outside is that the “wild” contains wildlife. Snakes don’t bother me much. I grew up on a development with a cul-de-sac that we nicknamed “Snake Circle” for how many different reptiles had been spotted there. By the time I was old enough to go outside by myself I knew to leave the animals alone, and they would leave me alone. I’ve startled rattlers, garters, and a variety of other snakes. This little fella was just sunning himself as I jogged along. He didn’t have the triangular head of a venomous snake, but I wasn’t going to mess with him (I’ve sat through more than my fair share of Army range safety briefings as well), so I just stopped a little ways down the path, snapped a quick photo using my phone’s zoom while he (or she, I don’t know) sat there tasting the air. Good luck, little king snake. Find yourself some tasty rodents or other reptiles to snack on…

I got sand in my shoe…

Another hazard of trail running is the amount of sand that will filter into your running shoes as you go up and down the hills on trails originally designed for military vehicles or the Leather Sole Express. See where that trail in the center disappears behind the scrub? Trust me when I tell you that on my return trip, I forgot which way I was going, and only figured out that I had run down that hill because there was so much sand that I could distinctly backtrack my steps from the prints my Sauconies had left in it…

Didn’t see any snakes in this overgrowth … but every time I heard a rustle, I ran a little faster…

I am really going to miss this place when it is time to move on, and not least because it is so easy to get up and go outside for a training ride or run, or even open water swim. Living down the street from beautiful trails and ocean views can’t be beat. After injuring my knee, I went through a several-years-long funk where I thought that since I couldn’t run, I didn’t want to do anything. Then, I thought triathlon might be a good way to get back into working out and doing weekend events. But it was only until I came to Monterey that I finally re-discovered that motivation to actually get out and enjoy the views while I chugged along. And the fact that I’m running through places of quiet history make it even more enjoyable.

But we can’t run all the time. I’ve got some writing to do, a couple of emails to return, and another training ride to get out on. Hope everyone is having an awesome day! And also, if feel like sharing pictures of your favorite training spot, or just your favorite views, feel free to post them in the comments!

This entry was posted in Welcome, Writing Reflections and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.