NCR Trail a scenic spot for a solo 16-miler

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Here’s a view from the NCR Trail, where I did a long run on Saturday. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I’ll miss my old home, but one cool thing about my mom and stepdad moving is that they now live not far from the NCR Trail, which is a great place to run.

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At stops like this one, you can see how far you have until the next locations. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I had a long run to do this past weekend as part of my marathon training, and I was excited to log the miles on the Northern Central Railroad Trail, officially known as the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail, in Baltimore County.

I started at Mile 0.5 at the Paper Mill Road parking lot in the Hunt Valley area. There was plenty of parking and since there was only half a mile to the south, it was an easy decision to run north. I would be running eight miles out and then eight miles back to log my 16 miles. I’d already cut a couple long runs short, so I wanted to make sure I got in the entire 16 miles this time.

There were so many runners out that there were almost too many to wave to. I normally wave to other runners when I see them, but it got to the point where they were just everywhere and I felt like I was going to be waving the entire time. The number of runners I saw did seem to thin out as it got later in the day; I started at about 8:45 a.m. and ran for about three hours.

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I carved “1000” into the trail to commemorate reaching 1,000 miles for the year — not a permanent carving. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I didn’t stop my watch at all, not even when I stopped to take photos, and it took me three hours, two minutes and 12 seconds — an 11:23 pace. I wasn’t going for speed and I did walk some, but I was tired particularly toward the end and I’ll need to continue to work on my endurance and long-run pace before the marathon.

I knew that I would also hit the 1,000-mile mark for 2016 on this run, so I took a moment during the run to carve “1000” in the trail for my photo.

Although I prefer to run with a group on long runs, I was glad that for this solo run, I had new-to-me scenery to look at. Although I’ve run on the NCR Trail before, it’s been a while and having the different scenery and the other runners helped with monotony. It was also cool to pass the different stops on the trail. I ended up going past the Monkton stop and went to Mile 8.5 on the trail, which is marked every mile (not half-mile), before turning around and making my way back.

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Runners can keep track of their mileage with markers like this one. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

I did listen to music during the run, and at 11 a.m. I was able to listen to “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.” Although I listened to that show live, I’ve gotten into listening to podcasts on some of my runs.

While the trail is crushed gravel, it felt pretty hard and some parts even looked like a road surface. This could have been because of the weather. I didn’t think it was any more difficult to run on than running on the road — some trails certainly are.

Want to check out the NCR Trail for yourself? Check out a full map with parking information at the NCR Trail Snails website.

I did this run on Saturday, Nov. 12, and it was my second run in a row in a location outside Salisbury. Read about my run in Westminster here.

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