Running in Lenora Park

The day after Peachtree Road Race, I knew I had no strength to run (see why here) but could definitely go for a walk and check out another one of Gwinnett County’s (GA) finest.  So I fired up the parks and rec map and Google maps and landed at Lenora Park in Snellville, GA.

Lenora Park in Snellville, GA has many of the features that residents and visitors come to expect in Gwinnett’s larger parks including: baseball/softball fields, a track, leisure pool, dog park, batting cages, gym, pavilion, children’s playground and disc golf.  I didn’t know what this disc golf was until I came back on Saturday and saw it in action.  There’s something for everybody in this park and the second visit revealed it in full use.  For me though, it’s all about the trail.

On Tuesday I walked it, really early around 7:00 am and walked it slow to take pictures and poke a round and what became crystal clear is that the paved trail is for EARLY MORNING or cooler weather use, unless you are the hearty type who can take the heat and humidity of the Dirty in July.  There are plenty of trees but for all but the back side of the park and a little piece on the Lenora Church Road side, runners, walkers and bikers get to enjoy plenty of wide open unshaded space in which to move.  That aside, I love this trail.  It is relatively flat and fast for all rabbits and is a nice break for turtles like me.  The paved trail is 1.7 miles which is fantastic with only three loops you’re at 5.1 miles and four loops puts you at  6.8.

What was especially beautiful for me at this park is that on Saturday morning the park was full of black people.  Since my folks have such high rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, I was really encouraged to see so many folks out there handling their health business.

Lenora Park is great for runners, walkers and bikers with that fast trail and is great for more leisurely pursuits as well.  If you’re in the area, check it out and if you’re not I encourage you to visit the parks near your home base.  July is National Park and Recreation Month, why not grab your kids, running shoes, book or nothing at all and experience parks for yourself.

See you on the trail!

Sweetwater Park

I’d just completed a run at my favorite spot, Bethesda Park on a weekday morning.  In order to avoid traffic which was backed up I stayed on Bethesda Church road until it turned into Bethesda School Rd and lucky me, another park was in sight, Sweetwater Park.  Having the day off and no schedule to follow I pulled into the lot to check it out.

Sweetwater Park is a small but well maintained park in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Features include a playground, pavilion, tennis courts, half-court basketball, and sand volleyball lot, something I’ve not seen at other Gwinnett Parks thus far.  Having arrive around 10:00 am there were not a lot of people around including one staff guy on hand to clean up after a holiday weekend.

The trail was easily accessible, .75 miles long and not hilly.  However, coming up on the volleyball side is an incline that will leave you slightly winded once you actually reach the sand.  Beginning at the park entrance and going right, the trail is shaded for the better part of .5 miles, which is a nice reprieve when needed.

Since the initial visit I’ve run at Sweetwater twice.  The first time around 7:00 am which was really nice.  There were only walkers and runners there and the .75 mile loop is perfect for a 3 mile run, four times around and you’re done.  The Pavilion area is a nice for your cool-down, stretch, meditation and for watching personal trainers put clients through their paces. I went back a few weeks later around 7:00 pm and it was CROWDED.  Walkers, runners, bikers, skaters, dogs and all of the courts including the sandlot volleyball were full, there was a girls basketball team doing drills and a boxing class at the pavilion.  To top all that off, it was STILL 88 degrees.

For runners and walkers Sweetwater Park is perfect for short distances, in the morning.  For families and other sport enthusiasts the evenings are on and poppin!

For more information on Sweetwater Park and others, go to the Gwinnett County Parks website.  Hope to see you on the trail!

Alexander Park, Lawrenceville GA

I’ve been checking the weather forecast all week.  With a race coming up I needed to get in one more outdoor run and the forecast was for temperatures in the mid 60’s by Saturday, needless to say I was giddy with the prospect. So Saturday afternoon, with the temperature at 65 degrees I set out for Alexander Park in Lawrenceville.

Upon arrival the first thing I noticed was a lack of trees indicating that this park was fairly new. After further research I found that the park was actually opened in 2009.  The next glaring reality was that the park was packed and the parking, limited.  The main park entrance on Old Snellville Highway has a narrow paved lot followed by an unpaved lot and nearly all spaces were taken.
The front of the park has seating for performances and an open grassy area for kite flying, frisbee throwing and whatever else you can do in an open grassy area.  Next to it is a small children’s play area with swings, a slide, a big boulder for climbing and an interesting set up that teaches children how to read braille.  The play area was packed with children and their parents and could definitely be extended or an additional play area added somewhere else in the park for the children to enjoy.
The paved trail according to the website is 1.4 miles and you have to assume that this is the paved trail that is lined for two “lanes”.  I say assume because there are no mileage markers anywhere on the trail.  The outer loop of the trail, even without trees is a good one.  Starting out from the entrance and going right on the outer loop, it’s not particularly challenging, however the last stretch once you come back around to the entrance side is one long steady incline that burns the lungs and thighs.  I saw one woman stop and think about whether she would continue or turnaround, she continued and so did I.  That incline alone makes running here worth it.
As much as I enjoyed the run, and seeing the children, the pond (where people actually fish) and the challenging incline, there were a few drawbacks as mentioned above.  The parking situation leaves much to be desired and the children need a larger play area.  Yet the biggest draw back was the DOG POOP.  Every Gwinnett Park that I’ve been in has the “It’s your doodie” signs posted.  For some reason, some folks IGNORE those signs and let their dogs poop on the paved trail and alongside it.  The problem is especially troublesome on the back side.  I mean the smell of dog poop mixed with wood chips is a bad combination.  I’ll be contacting the Gwinnett Parks and Rec about this one.
Overall I give a thumbs up with some caveats for Alexander Park.  For running, walking and biking early mornings will likely be the best bet to miss the crowds and miss the heat during the summer.  Off hours would also prove better for parking.  If you’ve been to Alexander Park, I’d love to hear what you thought.
See you at the park!