I ran this one almost completely by myself. 18.3 miles. It is always good to do one really long run in training alone, because I'll be 'by myself' during the race. It is good practice dealing with the emotions and chatter that my brain has going on during the run which might defeat me during a race. This run allowed me to clear my head a little, but I was pleasantly surprised that my head seemed filled with good thoughts of the people who matter to me most.
I headed out to Saguaro East to run the 8 mile paved loop (the super hilly one) with Blue Pants Racing at 7am. A few people showed up, but they were running 8+ minute miles, so I told them to just go ahead around mile 1.5 (well, I was getting further and further behind, so it wasn't like they needed my permission). My first two miles were: 8:34, 8:46. I knew that was too fast considering I was going to be doing 18 miles today, so I slowed it on down and ran alone for the rest of the loop. I saw a really huge deer jump across the road, but he was too fast for me to grab the camera. They were all still there when I got back, so we chatted for about 15 minutes, and then I changed shoes (from road to trail), threw on my trail gaiters and a tank top under my long sleeve and off I went. I ran the loop counterclockwise back to Cactus Forest trail (about .8 mile) and then ran that trail to the Broadway trailhead. I headed back the way I came. Cactus Forest trail is a little hilly, but nothing too crazy. There was a sign up warning about mountain lion activity, but I felt that there are so many people on this trail, that I didn't need to be concerned. There weren't as many people out as usual though, most likely because of the sign! They usually hang out closer to the dam, so I just let caution fly with the wind and went anyway. The lady at the park entry booth agreed with my plan to 'look big' if I spot one, but she also said 'Don't look too pink!' She was being funny, and we had a good laugh. A guy I ran into at the Broadway trailhead said, "Boy, you sure are color coordinated!" I had the aqua/pink thing going on today.
It was a really good run. It was a little chilly at the start, but warmed up nice enough for me to pull off the long sleeve at around mile 13. I love Arizona. I can run in a tank top on January 31st!
Total run time (not including breaks): 2:58, which is a 9:44 min/mile pace. My ankle talked to me very little during the run (although I'm starting to become convinced it is partly my achilles tendon) but for the most part, taking Monday - Friday off of running was probably super helpful.
Total elevation gain: 2,073 (963 for the paved loop and 1,110 for the 10.3 mile trail portion)
Total elevation descent: 2,020
I did see a jackrabbit on the trail. I sweet talked him and he posed for me. They are so cute!
I felt really good afterwards, although my calves are a little sore. I really made an effort to not overstride on the downhills, and my shins are feeling better, too.
I ran 4 miles on Sunday, so I only have 22 or so miles in this week. I would have liked to have had a little more, but the few days off were good. I feel ready for the race.
A shout out to David R. in Sierra Vista - he is doing OP50 and has decided to join us at Pemberton, too. It will be good to see you out there David. Sounds like you are ready to me.
Oh, by the way, they are looking for pacers (2:00 and 15 minute increments on up) for the Arizona Distance Classic half marathon in Oro Valley on March 29th. Your race entry is free. I would do it, except I'm doing the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon on that day in White Sands, NM. The course in Oro Valley is really pretty; I did it last year. Anyway, let me know if you are interested and I'll hook you up with the right person.
Final thoughts for the day (well, they are actually lyrics from one of my favorite songs from the Dixie Chicks (Long Way Around):
Well, I never seem to do it like anybody else
Maybe someday, someday I'm gonna settle down
If you ever want to find me I can still be found
Taking the long way...
Taking the long way around.