The one about [Not] Running In Forest Park

I could kick myself in the face. For real. The [initial] plan was to run in Forest Park…and I chickened out.

During Easter weekend, I went to St. Louis, MO with my mum- just for fun, it being a long weekend and all. And of course, one of the first things I packed was my running shoes. I was excited to run in a new city. Why, you may ask? Well, because I keep track! I think it’s fun to do- who knows, one day I could cross off running in all 50 states of America from my bucket list :P.

Pick a day. We left on Friday-but I ran Friday morning before leaving and I planned to run Saturday morning as well instead of Sunday, the day of our return. My weather app said it was going to rain on Sunday and since I’m still not quite comfortable with purposely running in the rain, I planned to avoid running on Sunday.

It was quite the debate within myself deciding whether to run on Saturday or Sunday because I was really sore- even before my Friday morning run. And of course, sitting in one spot, driving for 4.5 hours to St. Louis didn’t help that any.

Pick a time. I decided I would start off at about 8am. Easy enough. St. Louis is on Central time, so really, 9am for me.

Pick a place. Forest Park! No brainer. It was the closest park to where we were staying, it looked large enough on the map, all the blogs and articles I had read about running in St. Louis, or just visiting St. Louis in general, raved about this park.

The problem. I didn’t wake up early enough on Saturday. Or I got lazy, or I was still really sore, or something. I decided it wasn’t the end of the world. Maybe the rain would hold off on Sunday till after my run… maybe.

So Saturday, we did a lot of sight seeing [read- walking]. My pedometer recorded about 17,000 steps! Coincidentally, our sightseeing took us to Forest Park. Twice. First, on the way to The Hill, we drove right by Forest Park. While driving past, I tried to find the ‘entrance’ to this park so that the next day, I would know exactly where to drive to and park- but I didn’t see an entrance. I however saw a lot of runners- like tons! In pairs, in groups, in herds, in multitudes, in uniform, … and some solo ones. A lot of them even had their hydration with them (I am a water stop gal, I had a bad experience with a hydration belt once). That was when I started to feel some hesitation about running at Forest Park- maybe these were the ‘really experienced runners’, not my category.

It turns out Forest Park is so huge, it houses the St. Louis Zoo (which we visited), the St. Louis Art Museum (SLAM for short- I love that abbreviation!), the Science Center, a theater (Muny), a skating rink, and several other things. While at the zoo- I saw more runners in the park. And then I saw hills. My nemesis! I think it was at that point I decided I would NOT be running at Forest Park. I chickened out.

I began to research alternatives and Tower Grove Park seemed to be the winner. Ten minute drive from where we were staying = close enough. It was described as flat = Hallelujah! It was also described as pretty and a good place to run = I was already there!

Sunday morning, off to Tower Grove Park I went. And I ran 4 miles. I was quite pleased with my pace as well, especially in spite my soreness. I’m not training for a race right now, so I’m not really trying to push things. And the rain held up :). I was proud of myself and rewarded myself with a coffee from Starbucks (which I came to regret later, by the way, as it took me forever to fall asleep that night).

Here are some pictures I took at Tower Grove Park (enjoy my amateur photography skills and hover over the pictures to view the captions):

 

And here’s the face of triumph after running 4 miles with sore limbs and the pretty map of my route :). Side note: the shirt is from my first half marathon! Another side note: my first mile is usually my fastest- negative splits remain elusive.

 

Later that day, we headed to SLAM at Forest Park and as it turns out, parking on the street is the way to go. There is no official park ‘entrance’. The views were absolutely breathtaking! It was also a gorgeous day, so that helped :). There were pretty fountains and ponds, fun statues, nice flowers and trees, not-so-intimidating hills, and at the end of the day, not too many runners. It was perfect. I had no excuse– this is where I should have run.

My mind went back to my run earlier that day and I began to think about how it could have been so much better if I had run in Forest Park. To be honest, maybe if I hadn’t visited Forest Park later that day, I would have remained satisfied with my running experience. But visiting Forest Park, I saw potential … what could have been… and I wanted to kick myself for chickening out. I saw all the happy runners, prancing past me, smiles on their faces, beaming with joy … ok, I’m getting carried away here.

Or maybe running at Forest Park that day would have sucked. I’ll never know.

The good news is now I know of at least one more place to go running should I ever find myself back in St. Louis.

Next task- start planning where to run in Houston, TX!

Fellow runners, have you ever had any similar running fails? Comment below 🙂

Header Photo: Forest Park, March 27, 2016. Photo by: O Thomas

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