North Country Trail Adventure Part 3
By Bret Brummel
Newaygo North Country Trail Section 3 – 96th St. to Croton
Distance: 5.82 miles
It was another beautiful morning for a run. We began on the corner of 96th St and Locust. Three tom turkeys and a few cows watched from an adjacent field as we completed our warm-up exercises. Anna has this whole routine that her Cross Country team uses to warm up. I do my best to follow her example, but there are a few things my 47-year-old body just can’t do without looking ridiculous. I try my best, and hope no one I know happens to drive by while I’m trying to do the “AC’s” or whatever that thing is called.
We headed north towards Bill’s Lake and I felt great. I noticed that I was ahead of Anna and every 20 yards she would look at her running watch. There is a lot of technology available for those who run. I use my phone with the Runkeeper app. It uses GPS to track my mileage and pace throughout my run. I also have it set to announce the distance and pace every 5 minutes. Anna wears a watch that has a constant display of distance and pace. A quarter mile into our run, she informed me I was going a little fast. Actually, she said, “We’re going almost 6 miles, you’ll die if you don’t slow down.” Point taken, I let her lead. The pace she chose was perfect. We turned on 92nd St. and as we approached Elm, I wasn’t tired at all and could tell it was going to be a great run. I did notice Anna’s breathing was a bit shallow. Could this be a day when I actually beat her to the finish?
Elm is not the best road for running. There can be lots of traffic and the shoulder of the road is very narrow. With the number of hills on the road, I spent most of the time following Anna in a single file line. We did have to stop at the corner of Elm and M82 by Hilltop Express to wait for traffic before we could cross. I joked with Anna that it was 2 miles to our house or 4 miles to the van. We chose to head for the van. As Elm began to curve, I could tell Anna was struggling. A side stitch was making her run completely the opposite of mine. I felt like I could go on forever. When asked if she wanted to stop a minute, I got the death stare. “Nope, I’m fine” was her reply. After another mile, she was feeling better and we were approaching Croton Hardy Drive.
The trail leaves Elm just past Conklin Park and takes you to the Edge Pathway along the river. That path would take us to the bridge over the river where we would take our run selfie with the dam in the background. Anna knew we planned to stop there and she found the energy to begin her usual negative split running to the finish. Negative split is a running term used when you increase your speed the farther you run. That’s where I usually fall behind. I’m more of a flat or positive split guy. We stopped in the middle of the bridge for our picture.
The finish was at the public access parking lot where our van was parked at the bottom of the hill. Because we had stopped, I actually had a chance to beat Anna if I played my cards right. I planned to follow her across Croton Hardy Drive and sprint once we began running down the hill. Somehow, she must have read my mind. I started to make my move and she countered with one of her own. I was running as fast as I had in years. Just as I closed the gap, she yelled “I WILL NOT LET YOU BEAT ME!” I wish I could say I lost in a photo finish. As we stopped, both bent over, breathing heavily and laughing, Anna said, “I knew you’d try to pass me.” She knows me too well.