Trail Running Challenge Blog (Ethan Banks)

Atlanta Easy Run

Today was 1 hour easy (HR zone 2) run. I am holed up at the NANOG87 conference held at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, and found Stone Mountain Trail a block south. With a break in the conference action, I hopped on that, and headed easterly away from the hotel district.

The ~3 mile section of Stone Mountain Trail I was on was all paved. It's a multi-use trail intended for bicycles, runners, and walkers, and I saw plenty of all three.

The trail was flattish, but there was definitely more elevation change than I was expecting, gaining about 300 feet over rolling terrain. I can't say it was a pleasant section, but better than running sidewalks for sure.

The further I got from the hotel, the nicer it got. At first, the run was 100% inner city vibe, complete with annoying intersections, interstate overpasses, and a (presumably) homeless guy prepping something with a lighter and a spoon to (again, presumably) shoot up. Nope, not making that up. Okay, I didn't see a syringe. The spoon and the lighter? Yep. That's a thing that happened as I ran by. Reminded me of some of my runs in San Francisco, where in even a seemingly affluent part of the city would feature homeless folks clustered on a sidewalk. Dodging human feces piled on the street while running was a thing. Again, not making that up. If you don't see a homeless problem where you live, look a little harder, or visit a big city.

Back to Stone Mountain Trail, the presumed drug addicted homeless man was only the first I spied of several other homeless people. Some I didn't see, but were encamped under a bridge behind a chain link fence the trail went by. I can't say I felt unsafe running in bright sunlight with plenty of trail traffic from every day people, but I was paying attention.

The trail was routed near a major highway, so the sound of traffic never went away. I didn't realize it until I got back to my room, but my ears were ringing a bit. A far cry from running in the peaceful woods of New Hampshire, where the loudest thing I might hear outside of my own clumsiness is a red squirrel scolding me from several branches away.

I got just over 30 minutes into the run and got stuck at particularly long light at 4 lane highway I needed to cross. I opted to flip at that point rather than wait for the light and then have to wait for it again. I followed my route back pretty much 100% the way I came, with one little departure to cross a bridge and back to add a little time I knew I'd need to get to an hour of running.

I am supposed to also do strength training today, but it's not going to fit into the schedule. I'm booked until 10pm tonight with the conference (got to go get some business done!), and I have yet to figure out where the fitness center might be in this hotel. I'm sure it has one...somewhere...