My first race since moving to California, the Bay to Breakers 12K Foot Race in San Francisco, is quickly approaching. Only two weeks left to train! Meanwhile, I’ve been exploring my new hometown of Monterey in search of running routes. As I try each new route, I'll share them with you.
Today, I was in the mood for a loop. So, I headed out to El Estero Park in downtown Monterey -- which features a lake, playground, dog park, picnic grounds and other outdoor activities the whole family can enjoy -- and gave it a shot.
I parked my car at Dennis the Menace Playground on Pearl Street -- beloved by locals and tourists both young and old. I thought it would be the perfect place to start and end my run, especially since I had my toddler with me. If my daughter Bella was a bundle of energy and didn’t want to sit in the jogger stroller when we got there, I could take her into the playground to burn off some energy. And if my daughter happily sat in the stroller for the entire run, I could reward her with a trip to the playground when I finished -- a classic win-win scenario.
It turns out Bella fell asleep in the car and stayed asleep as I placed her in the jogger stroller, so I could start my run right away. Yay! So after parking, I ran across the street towards the cemetery and dog park.
Just beyond the dog park, I picked up the trail that would take me around El Estero Park. One of the first sights I encountered was Lake El Estero and a fountain shooting water into the air as a bird sculpture seemingly flew towards it for a sip.
As I continued along the dirt path, a group of trees whose branches gracefully reached towards the lake protected me from the glaring sun.
I noticed a mama duck and her ducklings lounging by the lake. It was such a sweet moment.
I also got a peek at Dennis the Menace Playground, which features a steam engine, climbing wall, suspension bridge and several play stations (not the video game variety). According to the City of Monterey’s website, the playground opened in 1956 -- the result of “creative efforts” by Dennis the Menace comic strip creator Hank Ketcham.
I soon arrived at Del Monte Avenue, made a right and zoomed past brightly colored paddle boats. Immediately, I wondered which of our guests arriving over the next few months might be up for trying them with me.
I was soon running along one of Monterey's main arteries, called Fremont Street. I picked up my pace, hoping to get off the path along this street as soon as possible because I didn’t feel safe running along Fremont with a jogger stroller as cars whizzed by.
As I made my way back to where I started, Bella was still sleeping and I felt like I had enough energy to run another lap. And it’s no wonder. According to website Map My Run, I only ran 1.4 miles. So, off I went for another lap. But this time, I didn’t run on Fremont St. Instead, I followed my original route until I hit Pearl St. and ran straight back to my car.
Bella woke up as soon as I finished my run. What perfect timing! So, we walked hand in hand to the Dennis the Menace Playground and enjoyed the rest of our afternoon there.
Do you have a favorite loop you like to run where you live?
Until next time,