I love being home for the holidays, and as you can tell from my numerous posts about my quaint Connecticut town, I think it’s a lovely little slice of New England charm. Part of that charm is the ability to go for a quiet run and not feel jammed among the throngs on the path around Central Park. Of course, running the roads of Ridgefield means dealing with cars, but there are lots of paths you can take on back roads, as well as in town parks and on the Ridgefield Rail Trail.
The one thing that a path cannot do, however, is overcome the fact that Ridgefield gets its name from ridges. Ridges mean hills, and even though I’m a distance runner, I tend to try and avoid those. I fractured my ankle eight years ago, and before it was fully mended I decided to bike through the hills of Vermont with all my possessions in saddlebags, resulting in stress to the ankle and a bout of tendinitis in the knee. This past summer, I strained my hip flexor trying to train through the return of the tendinitis. All in all, one of my legs is a bit weaker than the other, and hills aggravate that, both running up AND down!
When in Central Park, I tend to serpentine around to create my own long, flat-ish route. In Connecticut, I carve a path in a rather different manner, building loops from different parts of town and taking walk breaks if necessary. An added bonus of doing this is the varied scenery on a typical morning’s run!
One of my favorite flatter loops is a path around the recreation center. The path is only 1.3 miles, but doubling back doubles that and adding the trip to and from my street of just under a mile creates a 4.5-mile loop, either for a quick early morning run or as part of a longer outing. Even though I have to run on a busy main road to get there, it’s a beautiful and quiet interlude in what feels like the woods, although you’re never more than a few minutes from civilization.
I also enjoy running through the picturesque downtown. The shops cluster on Main Street in a relatively small area, but the sidewalk continues a mile further, past many of the beautiful historic homes from every era since the community was founded. The oldest house in Ridgefield, Hawley House (c. 1715), isn’t far from Lounsbury House, built in the late nineteenth century by Connecticut governor Phineas Lounsbury and now a community center that hosts town functions. My favorite Main Street manse, a lovely Victorian, lies on the other side of the road. And though the sidewalk ends too soon, you can turn around and lengthen the route by running the various roads that branch off from the town center. I often do this, passing my absolute favorite house in town (the larger Victorian is a close second, but my dream house has always been something small and cozy!)
And there you have it – happy trails! I’m off to do 6 miles now, tapering steadily for next Saturday…
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