Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Running at the Lake

In Dallas, there is essentially only one body of water in town, so naturally, runners, walkers and bikers are drawn to it.  Luckily for runners, "looping the lake" is a perfect distance -- about 15k or 9.3 miles. 

For the first couple years I trained for marathons, I did every single long run at the lake.  One loop, two loops, maybe some out and back on a trail leading off the lake if a different distance was required.  Always at the lake, starting in the southwest corner. 

The year that my life was fairly overwhelming (insane hours at work, rapidly budding romance with my now husband), I was an evening runner, and I met friends out at the lake two nights per week to log our miles.  Always at the lake, starting in the middle of the eastern side. 

Then I started training with the local program that I run with now and we still run at the lake fairly often.  From our usual starting point, going our usual route to the lake, it takes about 4 miles to get there.  Sometimes for a weekday 8 or 9 mile run, we run that route to the lake, finish out the distance to the u-turn point at the lake, then head back.  And sometimes for long runs on the weekend, we will run all or part of the loop.  And when I meet my buddies now to run some extra miles of hills on Fridays, we start at the lake, now on the northwest corner. 

Back in 2012, when I was training for the Bataan Memorial Death March marathon, I was going to be competing in the weighted division, which meant doing the marathon with a military regulation weight backpack (at least 35 pounds).  I guessed at how long it would take based on past results, and I figured about 8-9 hours was a good guess, so on three separate days in the months leading up to that race, I walked around the lake with my pack (or with my weight vest before I became one with the pack), for 9 hours -- that meant 3 loops of the lake, 27 miles per day.  Always at the lake, starting on the northeast corner. 

And of course the lake is a very popular race location.  There's even one race that's called "The Loop".  When I look over my spreadsheet of all the registered road races that I've ever done as an adult residing in Dallas (that number is now up to 146!!!!), about half of them have been at least partially along the lake (71 by my count, including the 2005 White Rock half (though I'm not positive if that course was on the lake at all), but not including the 2011 White Rock marathon relay since my leg wasn't at the lake).  When I added that parenthetical, it's a good example -- even our big local marathon was named after the local lake until a couple years ago (since they're trying to make it more "big city" now). 

So it's safe to say I have some history with the lake.  And I won't even go into non-running time at the lake (renting bikes with my brother to loop the lake, going to concerts at the Arboretum, picnicking and grilling with friends, walking around the Arboretum, etc.).

Given my history with the lake, sometimes I don't really notice or appreciate it.  Sometimes I hate it -- bikers going too quickly, the awful smell of the 2 month per year "birdshit zone", the mugginess and bugs that seem to congregate, the water fountains that sometimes don't work in the winter, the two shaky bridges...  But usually I'm fairly neutral, somewhat ambivalent toward the lake.  But sometimes I love it. 

I'm definitely not one to stop for photos while running.  But this lake/tree/sunrise was just so beautiful.  Too bad my iphone camera isn't so great. 


Reminds me how lucky I am to be near this great place to run. It might pale in comparison to the lovely lakes I got to run during the marathon in Minnesota, fabulous Lakeshore Drive by Lake Michigan, or to the awesome scenery that runners in California, Colorado, etc. seem to get on nearly every run. But for Dallas, it's pretty good, and it really is something special that I should appreciate more regularly.


  1. I love this post! You are right, it is so easy to forget how beautiful the lake can be. It is important to cherish the moments of beauty that we have here in Dallas, even if they don't compare to other parts of the country.

  2. Sounds like a very special place. I have been running around a local reservoir for the last few years. It's only about 3.5 miles around, but it's a hidden gem, beautiful and peaceful.

  3. Just clicking through a few old posts as I stop by from your comment on my blog (thanks!), and I love this one! I also do my long runs at White Rock when I'm training for something longer, and I do some bike rides there, too. We are very lucky to have something like this in the middle of Dallas, even if we forget it sometimes!