So, April has been another month for me of exploring the Ohio countryside that hugs our campus - often in conjunction with various running adventures. A couple weeks ago, Oberlin's Recreation Department sponsored its annual Earth Day 5K around town, which I ran in for the first time this year. It's a really fun, laidback race, full of a lot of locals, runners from all over Lorain County, professors and their significant others, and it covers a great route that really showcases many of the beautiful, historic old homes of Oberlin.
Lorain County has an amazing set of metro parks all over the county, full of hiking/running paths, lakes, reservoirs, rivers, creeks, waterfalls, natural wetlands, tons of wildlife - and all linked by a bikeable set of country highways that make up the Back Roads and Beaches route.
It is truly a remarkable network of parks, that (sadly!) I'm only just now beginning to really explore and take advantage of. I thank my boyfriend Alan in large part for that, as he is an avid runner too, and introduced me several months ago to French Creek, one of the metro parks where he's spent a lot of time in the past running and training.
It's a solid 25-minute drive by car from Oberlin to get there, but it's a beautiful enough place to run that it almost always feels worth the drive to me. There's a great dirt-path loop, tons of trees, deer and wild turkeys all over, and a ton of really friendly people who consistently cheer me on as I'm running with good-humored encouragement like, "Hey lady, there's a speed limit in here!"
Alan grew up in Lorain (like Toni Morrison!) and though he doesn't live in the area anymore, he visits regularly. He was in town last weekend, and we got up at the ungodly hour of 7:30 a.m. on Saturday to get a 5-miler in together at French Creek before meeting up with his family for brunch at the Rose Cafe, a beachfront restaurant at Lakeview Park on Lake Erie - yet another of the metro parks.
This picture's from last summer, but check it out - Lake Erie beaches are legitimately pretty.
After brunch, we walked out to the edge of a long pier and sat by the lake under a huge, cloudless, blue Ohio sky. Did I mention it was 85 degrees and sunny here all weekend long? This whole week, Obies have been hobbling around campus all sunburned and stuff - it's been great. (As a child, my parents used to ground me for getting sunburned; it's instilled good sunscreen habits in me, for sure, and I'll thank them later when I don't get skin cancer - but sometimes you just have to take advantage of the Vitamin D when you can soak it up!) The rest of my Sunday included root beer floats at the '50s-style drive-in Dogs and Suds in Elyria and a great Ani Difranco concert at the House of Blues in Cleveland later that night with Daniel, so I've got no complaints about the weekend.
Other running routes I've explored this month include Carlisle Reservation (a very doable bike ride from Oberlin), Kipton (ditto), Sandy Ridge, Bur Oak, and most recently, Oberlin's reservoir. There are multiple lakes on the outskirts of town referred to as the "reservoir" and I'm still a little befuddled by the exact nomenclature - but a Google search for "Oberlin reservoir" points all signs in the direction of this one, which is just a quick jog down the road from my house:
Basically, Ohio is awesome. If you're interested in more photographic evidence of why this part of the country is beautiful and an amazing place to be an athlete or outdoorsy person of any sort, check out Lorain County's Flickr site.