I’m Maine-ly in Love with…Maine!
The Great Cranberry Island Ultra was definitely the highlight of my running season thus far, and absolutely lived up to its billing as the #bestraceforever. Lucky for us, we planned our trip so that after the race, we’d be able to drive back down to Brunswick to stay with two amazing friends for a few days. It was a fantastic way to keep our vacation going.
In some ways, I’ve come to the realization that Maine just might be the perfect state for me. Nature is everywhere, access to major east coast cities is easy, colleges and universities abound, and it has the same close-knit community feel as Ames, only with fresh seafood and an ocean! After a day of rest on Sunday, I was eager to explore some of the trails that Maine has to offer, and we worked them into our relaxing days perfectly.
Run #1- Bradbury Mountain: This state park was about a 30 minute drive, and provided the perfect opportunity for a relaxing hike, and some trail running. The trails were well-marked and very well maintained, and offered some incredible views of the surrounding area. As I ran up and down the trails, all new to me, I had this intense feeling of excitement and energy. The weather was a bit overcast, and I felt like I could have kept running all day. Every time I passed a side trail, I faced the instant and intense decision of which direction to take. It was an incredible problem to have!
Run #2- LaVerna Preserve: The next day, we headed to Pemaquid Beach, a public beach in the town of Bristol for some ocean time. I brought along my running shoes and decided to see if I could find any nearby trails for a quick run before relaxing on the beach. I asked one of the staff members at the beach about area trails, and he pointed me to LaVerna. His directions seemed pretty straight forward to I left the beach toward the nature preserve. Along the way, I found myself running along the shoreline with amazing views and beautiful ocean homes. I was so caught up in the beauty that I didn’t notice I had already run about 3.5 miles, and hadn’t seen the preserve entrance yet.
I thought about turning around, but only briefly. I really wanted to make it to the trail so I kept moving. Luckily, I ran right into the trailhead about half a mile later. From the moment I stepped onto the tree-lined trail nestled amidst a beautiful canopy of furs and pines, I knew I was going to love this run! The single-track trail was clearly marked, and I found myself winding around bend after bend as I hopped over the occasional root or rock. This wasn’t a terribly technical trail, but I felt like I was in another world, cut off from even the minute hustle and bustle of the sleepy Maine town I was just in. After a mile or so, I could smell the salt water, and feel the ocean breeze. I knew I was close, and then, as if mother nature had choreographed it herself, the forest gave way to the rocky splendor of the northern Atlantic. I wandered out onto the rocks, and just stood, in awe, as the waves crashed against the shore. It felt like I had the entire ocean to myself, and I was ready to pitch my tent right there and never leave.
It is still amazing to me to think that I only had to travel a little over a mile down a beautiful trail, away from an already amazing oceanfront area, and find myself on a deserted rocky shore with nothing to distract me but the hypnotic waves moving back and forth against the rocks. I took my time letting the beauty sink in before heading back on the trail towards the road again. Throughout the run back to the beach, I found myself in a bit of a daze. It’s possible I was a bit dehydrated, but I’d like to think my mind was just wandering towards the ocean.
Now, I’m usually pretty good with directions on foot, as opposed to my behind-the-wheel navigation skills, but the new area and my lack of focus meant I ended up missing my turn and running a bit further than I had intended. Luckily, I caught my mistake in time, but by the time I made it back to the beach, I had still logged 12 miles. Kicking off my shoes and taking a dip in the Atlantic was definitely the perfect way to end a wonderful run though. There’s nothing quite like a natural ice bath to help your legs relax! We stayed at the beach a bit longer and enjoyed the warm air and wonderful saltwater smells, and then packed up to head back. Along the way, we stopped in another cute little town for coffee and some treats.
Beautiful, mesmerizing, quaint, natural, and refreshing could be used to describe our entire trip. By the time we packed up the car and drove down to Boston (at 1AM, I might add) to catch our flight, we both found ourselves wishing we could just stay. I certainly enjoy my regular running routes in Iowa, but there is something about easy access to trails around every corner, and the ocean never being more than a short run away that just sucks you in. The gravitational pull of Maine definitely left us both looking for our singularity!