It’s Not You Peachtree Ridge Park, It’s Me

With a week that was packed to the gills with stuff, I decided that a change of scenery would be good for the Saturday outdoor run.  Having checked the Gwinnett Parks website, Peachtree Ridge Park in Suwanee, Georgia looked to be a prime candidate for this week’s run.
The Backstory
I had a number of annoyances occur on Friday during the day job and a few more after leaving job two last night.  Once I finally made it to bed, there was no real sleep, just moments of sleep in between some very bizarre dreams.  By the time morning came I was relieved to see daylight and was looking forward to getting to the park.  Getting there was quick an easy, traffic was on my side.  It was cool out with a bit of dew on the grass, another plus. I thought, this is going to be a good one.
The Park
Peachtree Ridge Park has most of the standard features of the larger parks I’ve been to in Gwinnett.  The parks website lists the following:
Amenities: ∙ 156 acres  Handicap accessible ball field and playground for children with special needs  Three baseball/softball fields  Football field with lighted walking track  Two soccer fields  Outdoor basketball courts  Playground  Pavilion  Restrooms  1-mile paved multi-purpose trail

On this morning run I managed to see it all, because I didn’t exactly follow the paved trail.
The Trail
The paved trail was clean (goose-poop or trash) only the first few fallen leaves of the season were on the ground.  I started at a pavilion next to a small playground and followed the curve towards what I thought was the back of the park.  What I noticed was how far out some of the brush hovered over the trail, it was clearly in need of some cutting back. I took a trail the left, which made a small loop into a nice wooded area in which there was a small covered picnic area, which was really cute.  During my second pass I saw a lady doing what looked to be Tai Chi with another lady and a dog that started yapping as I passed by (the dog was messing with my chi).  Following the small loop I made another left and immediately regretted it.  There was a steep downhill, on which I “put on brakes” to make sure I didn’t go to fast (yes even I’m fast on a downhill), which followed a manageable climb out.  The trail leads to the football field and the walking track which surrounds it, but it’s not really a track.  It’s a loop around the football field, paved and marked, like the trail.  There was a pee-wee game going on with cheerleaders and everything (didn’t know they had cheerleaders at the little bitty kids games).  As I wound my way through I was uncomfortable and it wasn’t just the brush or that hill, which I would have to climb on the way back.  There was something urgent pressing… my bladder.
I NEVER have to pee when I’m on a run.  Well not never but almost.  I’ve probably had to go twice in the last 15 years or so.  Well today was that day.  I made it around that football field.  Ran up that hill that scared me and going up it I’d say it was at least 45 degrees, I mean I was learning forward so far, I felt nearly horizontal.  Made it back around to the front near the car and high-tailed it to the restroom…
which was clean had toilet paper and soap, thank GOD! I resumed my run, this time running through a small tunnel instead of the loop and followed the trail, again to the left and a funny thing happened, the trail ended in a parking lot, followed by more parking lots.  This was fine because on this portion of the run I got to see a rabbit, the basketball courts, a large playground and the baseball and soccer fields.  I made a loop through the parking lots and headed back to the trail.  I said to myself, pick your feet up and watch the curb and I did , except all of my body went up.  I FELL.
My bracelet flew off and I landed on my tail facing the other direction.  A passerby asked if I was alright and handed me my bracelet.  I had a small cut scrape on my palm that was bleeding, but otherwise I was fine, a bit heated but fine.  I’d planned to run for a certain amount of time, but by then, my mind was made up to run back to the car.  I was out of there.  Stopping 20 minutes short of my scheduled time for today, I decided to cut my losses.
Impressions
Peachtree Ridge Park is a great park for families, as there are numerous fields, play areas and open stretches of land that are conducive to play.  The trail on the back side near the football field is a BEAST!  If you like challenging yourself on steep hills this is a great place to do it.  As for me, I’ve been there and done it.  I won’t be going back to this park, though it’s fairly close, the experience unfortunately soured me on it.
Until next time see you on the trail! (I promise to remain upright.)
For more information on Peachtree Ridge Park, please visit the Gwinnett County Parks website.
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Dekalb Police Alliance Beat the Badge 5K 9/15/12

Not exactly crisp, but comfortable were the conditions for the Dekalb Police Alliance Beat the Badge 5K in Tucker Georgia on Saturday. Temperatures in the 60s were a welcome relief for this runner who struggles mightily with heat and humidity that can run well into September.  Even if it had been one a hot one, all participants were in good hands.  

The Participants
Sponsored by the Dekalb Police Alliance there was a good presence of public safety persons (police, fire and civilian) as well as a few current and former elected officials.  On the course there were lots of running pairs, moms and daughter, dads and daughter and fair amount of teens and tweens in the race.  What was atypical of this race was that there were not many of the “gung-ho running for a PR” racers, you know the ones who do all that running before during and after the race. These folks just were not there, which is suprising because the race is an official Peachtree Road Race qualifier.  In terms of sheer numbers, I’m not really sure how many persons participated in the race but I’d guess in the low hundreds, which is really ideal as there was no congestion in the race start and finish areas, nor were there there any issues exiting the parking areas.

The Course
The course started and ended on West Exchange Place in front of the Dekalb Police/Fire Rescue Headquarters.  The course wound past LA Fitness and turned left on Northlake Parkway, which meant the beginning was pretty much uphill.  Proceeding uphill and crossing over LaVista Road,  the course turned left onto the continuation of Northlake Parkway which was nice and flat.  Crossing I-285 the runners and walkers proceeded downhill to Henderson Mill, made a U-Turn at Henderson Mill and Northlake Parkway and headed back, hitting both the 1 and two mile marks behind Northlake Mall.  Making the climb from behind the mall back to the topside at Northlake Parkway and LaVista, it really was “downhill from here” as spectators and volunteers always tell you.  For an out and back course, this one was nice.  The hills were manageable and again, the mild temperatures, friendly officers and sprinkling of volunteers along the route made the running the course pleasurable.

The Scene
Centered at the Dekalb Police/Fire Rescue headquarters, there were plenty of shiny vehicles with flashing lights to view, which were interesting for both children and adults alike. Of particular note in front of the headquarters was a really beautiful 9/11 Memorial.  Both before and after the race many participants spent time viewing and photographing the memorial. Post race festivities included activities for children, sponsor booths to pick up additional goodies for your goodie bag and music.  The really big deal for me was that they had COLD water and sports drinks.  Many races I’ve participated in give you a bottled water straight from the case.  In GA in September, it’s still warm so that cold water was much appreciated.  There was also plenty of food for hungry finishers. 

The Dekalb Police Alliance Beat the Badge 5K is a perfect fall running event.  The size is comfortable, the course is just challenging enough and the race is family friendly.  If you’re looking for a good September race, that is convenient, smaller and fun, this is a good race to enter.

Until next time, see you on the trail.

Rhodes Jordan Park, A Little Something for Everyone

For the last few years, it’s been a tradition to go check out a new park following the Peachtree Road Race.  The purpose of which is two-fold, 1)finding a new spot to enjoy and to run in and 2)to exhale from Peachtree.  This year’s exhale took place at Gwinnett County’s Rhodes Jordan Park in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Features

Rhodes Jordan Park at 100 East Crogan Street is nestled in downtown Lawrenceville and is built around Lawrenceville City Lake.  At a large 162 acres, nearly any activity you’d like to enjoy can be accommodated there. The park features: a community recreation center, community room with catering kitchen, classrooms, dance/aerobics room, fishing lake, pavilions, playgrounds, seven baseball/softball fields, football field overlay, outdoor leisure play pool, double gym, tennis center with eight lighted courts, outdoor baseball court, outdoor horseshoe court (the first I’ve seen at any of the parks visited thus far in the county) and a 1.9-mile paved multi-purpose trail. 

Aesthetics

The beauty of the park is the lake and how everything is nestled around it. There is a an abundance of water fowl and in the early morning they pretty much have the run of the place, with their numbers decreasing as the morning heats up.  There are several boardwalks bordering and crossing over the lake as well as a secure railing on the low lying areas of the park.  There’s also a variety of wildflowers, and especially lovely to see, butterflies.  I visited the park in July and September and the visuals were spectacular in both cases, which is especially enjoyable while putting in the miles.  

The Trail

According to the park master plan there’s a network of trails totaling 3.8 miles.  What’s actually paved, connecting and usable is closer to the 1.9 miles listed on the website and it is a fairly easy 1.9.  Taking the paved areas around the lake, behind the picnic area and near the horseshoe courts, will give you a nice crossing loop with minimal hills.  The trail is not marked, which is fine.  Those who keep track of such things as mileage (which obsessive runners like me do) can just do a timed run and do the math to arrive at mileage.

The trail is mostly shaded with only small sections bordering the lake open and you’ll feel the heat, only momentarily. The trail is really enjoyable because there’s a lot to look at and keep your mind off of how long you plan to be there, the relative ease of it is also good, for any distance or type of run (repeats, tempo).  In fact yesterday I saw a young man doing hill repeats up a grassy hill to the trail.  With all the beauty there is one drawback of the trail at Rhodes Jordan Park and that is the poop.  Waterfowl, especially the gigantic geese (and there are several varieties) we have here make poop that’s as big as dog poop and it is everywhere on the loop directly surrounding the lake, so watch your step.

Rhodes Jordan Park is a park for everyone, there’s really no outdoor or indoor activity that one could not enjoy.  The easy, breezy trail is great for runners and walkers, and the park’s accessibility and aesthetic appeal make it great for days when you don’t want to do anything at all other than sit under a tree.  If you’re in Lawrenceville, take a little time to enjoy this spot right in the heart of the city.

Until next time, see you on the trail.