Well, that was easy. Oh, wait, no. Really. It wasn’t.
On one of the windiest days in Vancouver, I decided to go out for the longest run I’ve done this year. 24 miles. Just over 4 hours. So when I say windy, I don’t mean wimpy 50km/hr winds. I mean 70km/hr winds, gusting to 90km/hr. Yes, I said it. 90kph! What’s the rush?!
I headed out to UBC that morning and was going to meet my friend Katy and Jeff and the Pacific Spirit Trail Runners group. I’d have company for the first hour and then Jeff would continue on with me for as long as he could. That was the plan. Execution seemed to have failed. You see, when you step out your door planning to run for 4 hours, company is always fantastic and sometimes needed. Pace is the defining factor. The group was running 8.5km so you see where I’m going with this…
Within 15 minutes, Jeff and I were solo so we just made up our own route. Because we were “chasing” for the first bit, it look me a bit longer to get warmed up and I’m sure I paid for it as we got further into our run. Running in Pacific Spirit Park for 4 hours sounds .. repetitive .. and I’ve often been asked, “Where do you go for 4 hours?”. My answer? Simple. “Everywhere.” But when you have company, the scenery changes with the conversation. Trouble happens when the talking stops.
For the most part, the winds didn’t play a huge factor as far as headwinds or tailwinds. They did keep you on your toes though, with blown foliage, broken branches and fallen trees on the trails and the occasional heart-stopping sound of a snapping tree or branch mid-stride as your eyes darted around trying to find the source and, ultimately, resulting fall.
After 3 hours, Jeff’s knee got the better of him and I escorted him back to his car and continued on my way. I was thankful for the time he was able to afford me as it would have been a very different day running solo. Case in point – within 15 minutes of running alone, I was sidestepping a puddle and kicked a fallen branch and landed on my hands and knees. Had I not just run over 3 hours, I would have felt awesome. After 3 hours, any small move or fall or stumble makes for a slow recovery. But that 50k race isn’t going to run itself so on I go.. hi ho, hi ho, it’s up the hills we go! Or something like that.
Not too long after my fall and onto a new trail, I quickly stop to snap a photo and lo and behold, I bump into my friends Clif and Dianna! I tried to convince her to run a bit with me but she was persuaded into a mountain bike ride with Clif since he’s doing Seattle to Portland. A quick chat and off I go – I have no problems stopping during a long run but my body was already complaining so it’s best not to make the stops too long, unless it’s the end.
One of the reasons I love running in Pacific Spirit Park is for its beauty. The trails aren’t overly technical but, depending on where you go, you can find variation in the type of trails you run on – from wide packed dirt trails to single track slightly technical trails. During my long runs, I always have time to reflect on things. I was looking around at the damage that the winds had done to the park and it made me sad, as I saw trees torn apart – dead, as Jeff put it. I understand that it’s all natural – it’s Mother Nature’s way of renewing the land to allow for new growth for Spring. Sad, nonetheless. But I digress..
The remainder of my run that day was definitely tough – physically and mentally. Somehow, though, I managed to run just over 24 miles – believe you me, I was very tempted to finish my run at 22 miles, but I forced myself to do an extra loop. I started to get a bruising pain on my left foot around my 2nd & 3rd metatarsal head and each push off was hurting. I knew I was compensating and what little form I had left went out the window. You see, I made the decision to do my long run in my Saucony Peregrine rather than my Brooks Pure Grit, even though I’ve been running in my Brooks for every long run. Why? Well, there’s more tread to the Saucony shoes so I figured I might run my next ultra in them so why not give it a whirl for 4 hours. Clearly, I have my answer. Brooks it is.
Last year, I had run quite a bit more by this time but at the same time, I was pretty burnt out – 2019 miles in 1 year is quite a jump from the 1269 miles I did the year prior. That’s almost a 60% increase! So, feeling slightly undertrained and slightly less motivated makes every long run – every run, actually – that much more difficult. My mojo needs a boost. Or maybe I just need a damn good steak. 🙂
So, just over 4 hours, with the extra loop at the end, giving me just over 24 miles – that totals 61 miles this week. I think I’m on track. Two more long runs and then it’s taper – oh, glorious taper.
I have 4 weeks until I have to run my 2nd ultramarathon – when push comes to pain, no one’s going to run those 50kms for me and, come hell or high water, I’m crossing that finish line at the Gorge Waterfalls in 4 weeks.