by Lisa Connors

I arrive at Nickerson State Park at 7 a.m. on a Sunday to meet a friend for a six-mile run. It is a perfect day, not a cloud in the sky. It rained the night before, which created a soft, carpet-like terrain beneath my feet. The peaceful, quiet morning offered an opportunity to recharge, immerse myself in nature and to unplug. Sundays used to be my rest day. But lately, life has been turned upside down—schedules have changed and there are no races on the horizon. 

But there’s no better feeling than breathing in the fresh, early morning air, and exploring the trails of Nickerson. The 1,900-acre state park in Brewster features stunning views, pristine fresh water ponds, lush pine trees, and white sandy beaches. The kettle ponds throughout the park formed when the glacier ice melted more than 10,000 years ago. As you run the hilly trails, you’ll love taking in the gorgeous views of several ponds, including Cliff Pond and Little Cliff Pond. You may even be tempted to jump in! But be aware of the uneven terrain beneath your feet—roots, stumps, rocks, branches, and pine cones. (A small stump in the middle of the trail caught me by surprise and before I knew it I was swept off my feet!)

Lately, it’s been hard to stay motivated without an end goal—I typically have several races scheduled for the summer and fall. But the silver lining during this time of uncertainty is that I have rediscovered my love of trail running and I have pushed myself to try new workouts. I recently started to participate in Zoom “core” fitness classes twice a week, taught by the always-inspiring instructor Amy Woods. It makes me happy to see my Zoom community every Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Even though we aren’t in the same room, we are together in spirit and working toward the same goal. And instead of sleeping in on Sundays, I now look forward to a date with nature at Nickerson park. Slowly, but surely, I am learning to embrace change—and it has pushed me in new and exciting directions. In many ways, this pause in life has certainly been a blessing in disguise.

Sizzling Summer Race Series

With many races cancelled this year because of the global pandemic, race directors are turning to virtual versions. Although a virtual race doesn’t have the same energy, crowd support, or traditional start and finish lines, it offers the convenience of choosing your own day, time and route. It could be run on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, your favorite scenic route, or a wooded trail. For this year’s New Balance Falmouth Road Race At-Home Edition, for instance, participants can walk or run the seven miles anytime from August 15 to 29 and then upload their finishing time when complete. The $50 registration fee will get you plenty of swag—and the coveted mug!

For runners who want to keep the momentum going all summer long, the Cape Cod Athletic Club has launched a Sizzling Summer Race Series for club members. You can walk or run just for fun! Registration is $20 at capecodathleticclub.org (where you can also sign up for membership). There are no medals, but you will get a unique T-shirt!

Race calendar is as follows:

June 19-21:
Summer Kick-Off 5k

July 3-5:
Fireworks 5k

July 17-19:
Boo-Hoo No Brew Run 5.2 miles

Aug. 7-9:
Not the Falmouth Road Race 7 miles

Aug. 28-30:
Blast-Off Summer 5k

All races must follow social distance guidelines. Map your own course and share pictures of your journey on Facebook! 

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