Mississippi River road path north/Bottom of Franklin Hill/Mississippi River road path south
The Hills (and my quads) are Alive
on this path to Franklin.
This is a pretty basic running route. It’s on one path that you take for a little over 2 miles and then turn around and run the same way that you came for another 2 miles. You don’t have to cross any busy streets; the path always runs parallel to the road. The only thing that you need to remember about it, and probably can’t forget, is that it has a hill. A very big hill. Longer than it is steep, but still pretty steep. You reach this hill at the halfway point of your run, so you have the first half of the run to think, “I HAVE A BIG HILL COMING UP!” and the second half of the run to think, “I JUST RAN UP A VERY BIG HILL! AM I DEAD YET?” or “I JUST RAN UP A VERY BIG HILL! I AM A MAJOR BADASS!”
The scenery on this route is beautiful; you’re running alongside the Mississippi river at the top of the gorge—a gorge that you will be running down when you get to the hill at about the 2 mile mark. Try not to think about that and enjoy the view across the river. If the trees aren’t too filled in, you can see St. Paul. You might also try to distract yourself by looking at the fancy houses on the other side of the river road or at the occasional yarn bomb that decorates a trail sign or bike rack. There’s a great one—bright blue, I think—wrapped around the railroad bridge, where the greenway trail starts. If it’s still there? I’ll have to check.
All your attempts at distraction will still not allow you to avoid the inevitable: you have to run down and then up a big hill. First, the fun part: running down it. It takes about 1/2 mile to run to the bottom. It’s very picturesque, with the river and the University of Minnesota campus in view. Once you get to the bottom of the hill, you need to turn around and run up it. Depending on your pace, you now have 4-5 minutes to think about how much you wish you were still running down instead of up or how much your legs are hurting, especially your quads.
When you reach the top, you have the next 2 miles to recover. Sometimes you won’t and you’ll stop for about a minute to walk, near the bright blue yarn bomb. Other times you will and you’ll feel strong enough to pick up the pace for the last mile, right around the time you run under the lake street bridge. Whether you feel energized or exhausted, it no longer matters once you reach the 36th street parking lot because you’re done. And you don’t have to run the hill again. Well, at least not for a few days.
While it may not seem like it, this route is my favorite and is the one that I’ve run the most in the past four months. Running it so much has made my legs stronger and my fear of hills weaker.