The route I had planned for today’s 20-mile run wasn’t particularly easy, and the pouring rain and frequently muddy trails didn’t make it easier. In other words, it was the perfect race-specific training for Hagg Lake and beyond. It was also my most taxing workout since the Portland Marathon, and may have even been harder in some ways.
In the cold and rain, I ran 19.6 miles in about 3:30:00, for an average 10:43 mile. I’m surprised it was that fast. My Forerunnner GPS wasn’t keeping a lock in the trees, rain, and hills, so I couldn’t tell what my pace was along the way. I felt like I was running slower.
The first 1.7 miles was the steep descent from Pittock Mansion north, past Cornell Road then down to Balch Creek (absolutely beautiful with all the rain turning it into a glowing white cascade) and the Stone House. Since I was just warming up, I couldn’t attack the downhill, but I could think about what it was going to be like coming back up it 18 miles later! I wasn’t feeling particularly strong.
After the Stone House, the Wildwood Trail goes mostly uphill for a couple of miles, then finally levels out into the more mild and frequent rollers that comprise most of Wildwood past milepost eight. I was doing all right, getting pretty wet and very muddy. There were enough muddy puddles that jogging right through them was the only option. My shoes and socks were soaked and foul, of course, but in the end, my feet and toes have come out 100% fine. Although I did have a certain shoe problem later…
After about an hour, more than five miles in, I took a short planned walk break and decided to have one of my Clif Shots — mocha flavor, with caffeine. Mmmm black viscous delicious oh so sweet goo. With a buzz. Great! I’ve cut caffeine out of my day-to-day habits, but this run called for it.
Nothing notable happened the rest of the way out on Wildwood, and, before I was expecting it, I reached the Koenig Trail, my turnoff. It wasn’t until I was lying down and resting at home, long after the run was over, that I remembered I was supposed to have gone another quarter-mile past Koenig and back! That’s why my distance was 19.6 instead of 20.1. Lying in bed, quads and calves stiff knots of discomfort, I entertained the idea of getting dressed and running a half mile around my neighborhood, but I’m just not quite that dumb. Close.
Koenig was a poorly-maintained very narrow pretty short very steep downhill connector trail that took me to Leif Erickson, and then a couple hundred feet northwest on Leif, continued down the hill to end at the Maple Trail. I headed back southeast on Maple, taking my second walk break and munching on a Kashi snack bar.
Soon Maple climbed back up to Leif Erikson, around milepost 4. The gravel and rock of Leif felt hard and strange on my soles after a few hours in soft splashy mud. I was headed to the Wild Cherry trail right near mile zero of Leif, and for once I didn’t appreciate how visible the milepost markers every quarter of a mile were: I’d rather have just zoned out without thinking about distances remaining. It didn’t help that those fast runners populate the road, zipping by you like you’re standing still. We hates them, we do. It was at the start of my run down Leif that my MP3 player/FM radio gave out. I think maybe it got some water up the microphone port? It was working intermittently, then not at all. I hope it dries out and gets better — it’s an iRiver e10 and its fm radio pulls in stations phenomenally well.
There’s a porta-potty on Leif right where the Wild Cherry trail intersects it, and I went ahead and peed there… I guess I was keeping hydrated successfully. Yuck, shiver, gross, porta-potty. (The “Honey Bucket” brand.)
Wild Cherry provided a pretty steep and very muddy climb back up to Wildwood. Huff huff puff puff. After a few miles of rollers on Wildwood, the downhill back to the Stone House began. The downs were OK, but every time I hit an up, the muscles on the front of my quads hurt. Yep, those last 1.8 miles were going to be a ton of fun! I also started getting annoyed by just how very much water and mud my running pants had soaked up and held onto. Especially around the ankles — slap slap slap slap. Maybe it was the three hours of hard work addling my mind, but I thought about getting some — errrk! — running tights for any future really long cold and wet runs.
Past the Stone House then up, up, up. I think I walked two steep uphills, maybe 30 yards each, but I kept up a shuffle of a jog for the rest of it, and my leg muscles came through for me, resigned, I guess, to their unhappy fate at the end of the whip wielded by my slave-driver of a brain. It was hard, hard, work, and I have rarely been so glad to make it back to my car.