First, a picture of me, taken by an official race photographer that doesn’t look horrible! You’d never know I was not feeling this race, would you? I think it has something to do with the tulips in the background!
For the sake of preparing for the Timberline Marathon (in 26 days!), over the last month it’s been my goal to run at least one day over the weekend on the trails in Forest Park. Sadly I had to miss one weekend, but only one.
I’ve always known I have a “thing” for long runs. A love, love, hate, love “thing” for long runs. I live for the runs that are greater than 15 miles. They give me time to bitch, moan, pout and get the “I don’t want to do this” mantra out of my head and then they let me relax and ever so gracefully remind me that Oh.My.God.I.Love.To.Run!
This last month has taught me something else. Trail Running is where my heart is happiest. Trail running kicks ass and leaves me with a satisfaction I have never had on any road run I’ve done in the almost four years I’ve been running. Trail running and long runs are like peanut butter and chocolate. Perfect.
Last week, thanks to Craigslist, I purchased two hydration backpacks. One was a never used Nalgene backpack with a 50 ounce bladder, the other a slightly used CamelBak with a 70 ounce bladder. I’d never run with a hydration pack so I wasn’t sure how it was going to feel and which would work best for me, etc. So I bought both of them for $30.
It was supposed to be hot on Saturday, in the mid 80s, and I was running 24 miles with one of the Chicks so I thought it would be best to use the 70 ounce bladder. Only thing was the CamelBak pack was not that big. I could get the bladder in there but very little else. So I put the 70 ounce bladder into the Nalgene pack that had tons of room, allowing me to throw in a couple of bananas, my individual packs of almond butter, some pretzels, trail mix, protein granola bars, a stinger gel pack and my cell phone and keys. Instead of just water in the bladder I added some recovery drink.
Friday I ate pasta with pesto for dinner and a really great bread roll and then I got up at 3 in the morning to down a Warrior Meal bar with 20 ounces of water, before I went back to sleep for a couple of hours. When I got up at 5 I ate a piece of toast with jam and a banana, drank some more water and packed up all my stuff. The pack weighed 7 pounds fully loaded.
I was meeting Aleta at the zoo which is where Wildwood officially starts. On the way to the zoo I drank some more water and a little bit of Gatorade, but not much really because I hate Gatorade and it’s hard for me to choke it down, yet it works for me when I do.
We were on the trail by 7 and headed out. It was a beautiful morning and it felt great being out there. Before we reached one mile I had to pee, which made sense with all the liquid I had been drinking since 3 a.m. Interestingly (to me) I’m getting more comfortable with squatting in the forest to pee. It is far better than trying to hold it for 5+ hours.
We made our way up to Pittock Mansion then we ran down the other side into Forest Park – fun. I loved it. Once we got to the 5¼ mark we started our climb back up the mountain. Huge elevation gains, beautiful views, nice shade. Perfect. Around mile 9½ we started dropping back down into the bowl of the forest and maintained that downward (for a good portion) descent all the way to mile 12. We turned around at mile 12 and headed back. Up, up, up, level, rolling, down, up, up, up, level, level, level, rolling, down, down, down, straight up. It was awesome. Almost back, we passed a mile marker and Aleta said “you realize we’re past 20 miles, right?” and it dawned on me that while I knew we had passed 20 miles on some level, it was unlike any 20 miles I had ever run because I felt GREAT. My wall is usually around mile 18 and when I hit it, I hit it HARD and it takes at least a mile, sometimes two to recover. I never hit a wall on this run. Never.
We got back to our starting point where it was a very hot 84 degrees and stretched out. Could I have run another 2.2 miles? Definitely. I believe I could have run quite a bit more than an additional 2.2 miles! Yay!
If there were any negatives it would be during the last few miles I really, really just wanted some PLAIN water. I was sick of the recovery drink. Not sure yet, but I think I might try to put the other bladder into the pack and see if I can handle both of them. I’d put recovery drink in the smaller one and plain water in the second. It would increase the weight of the pack, but it really didn’t seem that heavy since it’s made to evenly distribute the weight. We’ll see.
Another negative, towards the end I could tell I was tired because I wasn’t picking my feet up very high, which isn’t good on trails since there are rocks, tree roots and other organic stuff out there. I almost fell a couple of times, but managed to stay upright and only bang on my big toes – they are fine though. No black toenails have surfaced yet. And I still love my trail shoes.
This is how I looked at the end of 24 miles. No pain. Happiness for sure!
Next Saturday I’ll be running with Maureen. Not sure how far she wants to go (she just ran a marathon yesterday in serious heat!), but I’ll be up for whatever it is – I’d guess in the 15 mile range. The following weekend I want to run at least 26, possibly 28 starting early from the zoo again. That’ll give me a nice long run two weeks before Timberline and then two weeks to run shorter distances (I suppose we can call it tapering). That last week I probably won’t run much at all with the holiday weekend and my youngest son’s birthday – but I can’t be sure of that.
Saturday night Blue Eyes and I went to the late movie and saw 42. It was worth the price of admission and the company was good. Whatever I was feeling on Friday has moved on. The situation remains but I feel more sure of myself and less needy. This too shall pass. Hoping it passes quickly.
Have a wonderful week people!