2019 Running Travels: Exploring New Smyrna Beach, Fla., on the run

A group walks on a boardwalk at Smyrna Dunes Park - view from an observation tower.
Here’s a view from an observation tower at Smyrna Dunes Park (Vanessa Junkin photo).

Some people may think it’s tough to fit running into a vacation, but since I love running in new places and I had more free time in each day than I usually do, I was able to fit in a run every day during my recent trip to New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

In fact, this was the first far-away trip I’d taken in a while that wasn’t centered around a race or running event. I spent time with family while in New Smyrna Beach, but of course, I researched places to run and asked for suggestions online, too.

The one problem was staying up late some nights and then not being able to wake up early enough to avoid the heat and humidity. I probably should have run earlier every day, but I’m not a morning person, so I didn’t want to get up that early on vacation.

There were palm trees everywhere! Read more about each day’s run below.

Day 1 and 2 – Around Town

I arrived to my aunt’s house, where I stayed, early in the morning on Thursday, Aug. 8, after a Wednesday night flight.

Here I am running on Flagler Avenue in New Smyrna Beach.

On my first day of the trip, Aug. 8, I ran from my aunt’s house onto North Causeway and down Flagler Avenue, which has different stores and bars/restaurants, to the beach and back for a four-mile run. Getting to the Flagler Avenue area meant running on the North Causeway bridge, which had a pedestrian walkway on the side.

The following day, I went on North Causeway again, but I made a somewhat-rectangle shape. I ran toward the beach again, did some of my run on the beach, and then headed up the larger hill of South Causeway to take a different route back. I also went through the waterfront park where I’d attend yoga later during my trip. I’d also heard from my sister and the girl that picked us up from the airport that including both bridges on the run was a common running route.

Vanessa takes a selfie on the beach with a "Speed Limit 10" sign.
Speed limit 10? That was totally the only reason I was running less than 10 mph (kidding).

This was also a day that I did a 3×1 mile workout. My miles weren’t at the intended pace because of the weather, but I did three harder miles and got in six miles total.

Also, people can drive on the sand, so it was definitely easier to run on the sand here than, for example, in Ocean City, where you just sink right in.

Day 3 – Smyrna Dunes Park

On Friday, I got a ride to one of the places I’d been wanting to run, Smyrna Dunes Park, which was suggested by someone at Visit New Smyrna Beach. This park had about 1.5 miles of boardwalk trails and lots of cool views, including nature expanses, the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse and the beach. I went up the stairs to a couple overlooks during this run.

View of Smyrna Dunes Park boardwalk and condos/hotels in teh distance.
Here’s a view from the other observation tower at Smyrna Dunes Park (Vanessa Junkin photo).

After exploring the park, I ran a little more than two miles to my dad’s house, ending the day with a hot 4.5 miles. I’d started a run-walk at some point in the run (or maybe at the beginning?) because of the uncomfortable temperature.

So many palm trees! (Vanessa Junkin photo)

Day 4 – East Central Regional Rail Trail

One of the trails I’d found online ahead of time was the East Central Regional Rail Trail. From the description on the Volusia County website, I learned that the trail isn’t finished yet, but it will be 52 miles.

I took a Lyft out to the area, since it was a short drive away in Edgewater. The driver didn’t seem to be aware of the trail I was referencing and dropped me off at a different nearby trail with fitness equipment along the water. To be fair, I said it was OK, and I probably should have advocated for myself better, but that’s OK.

Vanessa Junkin runs on the paved East Central Regional Rail Trail.
Here I am in a self-timer photo running on the East Central Regional Rail Trail in Edgewater.

I ran about 1.5 miles to the trail that I initially planned to run on, the East Central Regional Rail Trail, Then, I ran about 2.5 more miles out and back on the paved trail, then headed back and ended at a gazebo along the water that was a little more in the direction of New Smyrna Beach than where I was dropped off.

I can understand why the Lyft driver didn’t know where it was. I actually found it somewhat difficult to find the best starting spot online, but was able to do so on the TrailLink app.

The start of the trail in Edgewater is on Dale Avenue just off West Park Avenue, near a Citgo. There wasn’t parking at the start of the trail, but it looked like nearby Rotary Park on West Park Avenue would be a good place to park (the trail is on the other side of the street).

Here’s another view from the East Central Regional Rail Trail (Vanessa Junkin photo).

I definitely didn’t get out early enough in the day, starting my run at about 9:30 a.m., and I did a slow run-walk, taking three breaks just to sit and rest. One of those breaks also included stopping at the Citgo when I finished my time on the trail, where I bought a bottle of water and a bottle of Gatorade. I’d brought a bottle of water with me, but drank it all.

I’d hoped to run 12 miles for my long run, but I ended up with just over eight (to get my weekly mileage up to a round number), and that was totally fine.

Day 5 – Run to and from yoga

On the day after the long run, I ran to and from an outdoor yoga class, carrying a beach towel with me to use as a mat. It was just less than a mile from my aunt’s place, but I added on a little bit on my way back and ran through the Canal Street area to end up with just more than two miles.

I found the class on the Visit New Smyrna Beach website — there are a few different classes offered. The 8 a.m. class was at a waterfront park, and it was a great way to start the day. The class was free, but donations were accepted. On the day I attended, it was a yin yoga class, which has participants hold poses for several minutes.

Day 6 – New Smyrna Beach Pedestrian Trail

On my last day, I ran on the New Smyrna Beach Pedestrian Trail, which was suggested by a friend. I drove a golf cart out to one end of the trail on West Pine Avenue, where there was a parking lot.

On this day, I did a workout of 10x 3 minutes at what Endure Strong calls “power pace,” which is between a half marathon and marathon pace. The workout definitely included walking for recovery, as it was hot again (although I don’t think it was as hot as my run the previous day).

View of New Smyrna Beach Pedestrian Trail, power lines to left and a bird on the right.
The New Smyrna Beach Pedestrian Trail runs along the power lines (Vanessa Junkin photo).

I ran to the other end of the trail and back for a total of 4.3 miles — the trail is listed as 2.2 miles one-way, although I got slightly less. As I ran, I saw large numbers that were on the paved path. They weren’t mile markers, so I was wondering what they were. I just went to the city’s website and found they are there so that people can give their location in case of an emergency.

Number "100" in the foreground on the New Smyrna Beach Pedestrian Trail.
This is an example of the numbers along the New Smyrna Beach Pedestrian Trail (Vanessa Junkin photo).

Even though this wasn’t a running-centric vacation, I’m glad that I was able to explore so many interesting places.

I set a goal to travel to at least one new-to-me place for a run each month of 2019. Here are the other places I’ve traveled to for runs this year:

Like She Runs by the Seashore on Facebook here.

View of water and long docks - lots of blues and greens.
I saw this view from the South Causeway bridge during a run in New Smyrna Beach (Vanessa Junkin photo)

3 thoughts on “2019 Running Travels: Exploring New Smyrna Beach, Fla., on the run

  1. You did a great job getting runs in! I love running somewhere new on holidays, but I also have trouble getting to it early enough cause you’re so often up later on holidays.

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