San Gabriel River Trail

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San Gabriel River

I look forward to my annual Christmas/winter travel back to Southern California. It’s a wonderful warm break away from the winter cold in the East Coast. It’s late December and the temperature is what I would get on a beautiful fall day — warm, sunny, and moderate temperatures around the 60s. Perfect for running outdoors.

I had packed my running shoes and took off for a long slow run. Admittedly exercising has fallen off quite a bit these past couple of months, but I try to get something in once a week at least.

My parents live in a bedroom-community of Los Angeles, a true suburb. Last year I did some running on sidewalks through different neighborhoods and along a city park. The thought of running past a bunch of houses didn’t appeal to me, so I turned to the internet to see if there was another option. I discovered WalkJogRun, a website that has running routes entered by users all over the United States. For my parents’ neighborhood, most of the routes were quite dull (a few miles on city blocks), but a few people entered running routes on the San Gabriel River Trail. The San Gabriel River trail (good overview here) is a 38-mile bike path that runs from the base of the San Gabriel Mountains down to the Pacific Ocean in Seal beach.

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West San Gabriel Trailway

The part of SGRT that goes by my parents’ place is the Lower San Gabriel River Trail and within that section is the West San Gabriel River Trailway. I really enjoyed running here. I ran a slow 7 miles (10:30 pace) because I just wanted to relax and didn’t want to push myself when I had done so little running in the last few weeks. The West San Gabriel River Trailway runs between Del Amo Blvd and Carson Blvd and was finished in May 2003. For most of the this 1 mile section, you’re running in a (somewhat) newly created park. I remember when this was nothing but undeveloped wasteland with power towers and weeds. A small middle section of it, you’re running right along side the San Gabriel River.

For those who grew up outside of Southern California, the idea that a river flows with concrete banks seems outlandish. They often think that this is some sort of giant sewer. For me, having grown up here, this was a common sight all over Southern California. Indeed until I left California, I had no idea that rivers that go though cities shouldn’t look like this.

I love the new park and the West San Gabriel Trailway. The path is nice and soft. The park is nicely landscaped and because of the year-round warm weather in LA, there’s always some sort of flower blooming. Many people associate smoggy air with LA, but near the ocean the air is always clear and fragrant. Sometimes the air has the slight salty scent of the ocean, but usually I breathe in the sweet perfumed scents floating off various blooms. This trail is no different. While the East Coast was covered in snow, I ran outside under the sunny blue skies.

20130102-000725.jpgBecause I wanted a long run, I decided to run farther south past Carson Blvd and go on the San Gabriel River Trail. I ended up going to the El Doraldo Regional Park in Long Beach before heading back home. Running along the high concrete, asphalt covered bike path was interesting. I would hate to run there in the summer because there’s absolutely no shade available. Even with 50 degree weather and a slight breeze I got warm. The view is the unrelenting unchanging and I can imagine that this would be incredibly boring mile after mile. However, a couple miles on it, it’s not so bad.

I had a really great run overall and I will definitely go running there again. After my run, I once again realized the importance of not overdoing it. I thought running slowly and gently would make a long run okay, but I ended up hurting my left foot. Not having run longer than 4 miles for many weeks and doing such little running, a 7-mile run (even at a slow pace) was too much. I took a few days off (a great excuse for sitting around and doing nothing) to recover. My foot is better now and I’m thinking about my running goals for 2013.

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