Yesterday, I ran next weekend's 10K race course with V at a nice easy pace and was a super lazy bum for the rest of the day. I started and finished Mennonite in a Little Black Dress while laying in recovery yoga poses and laughing out loud -- one of the most relaxing days I've had in a while. It felt good to stay in one place for more than 24 hours after so many weeks of flying back and forth between the bay area and seattle.
Last night, we had a nice healthy meal of matzo ball soup (I now make it from scratch), steamed broccoli, and salad. I went to bed and fell asleep at a reasonable hour and had high hopes for yet another awesome weekend long run.
Today's long run was supposed to be 17 miles. I'd registered for the Soaring Eagle 10 mile trail run and figured I'd add the 5 mile loop and a 2 mile out and back to make the total.
Unfortunately, it did not go as smoothly as I hoped. First, despite printing directions from the race website rather than relying on the duplicitous google maps, the directions were still a bit confusing and I had to backtrack, making myself late for the start. A very sweet wife of a distance runner picked me up rather than continue on her exit as I parked (far from the start) and she drove me right up to the flags, assuring me that they'd just started and that she'd see me at the end. (She did, and she recognized me and introduced me to her husband. What a great running supporter!)
Since everyone else was already on the course, I skipped the registration tent and just asked the organizers which color streamers to follow (orange, they were all orange). I headed out and quickly slowed to a halting dance between puddles and muck. The entire 15 foot width of the main trail was a collection of muddy shoe prints! I don't mean slightly muddy, I mean, you could see the imprints of the sides of people's shoes in the mud. Extremely muddy! With all of the slipping and sliding, I was barely doing a 20 minute mile. After half a mile, I decided I'd be better just road running my long run and I turned around. But, once I returned to the start, the organizers saw me and pointed me up a single track trail that was in much better shape.
So, I headed up the hill once more, ran where I could, splashed through several puddles and creeks, slipped and slid through entirely too many mud patches to count, and finally finished the 10 mile loop in 2:01:08 (give or take a few percentage in either variable due to the turn around and watch stopping and general GPS tomfoolery in the forest).
Trouble was, after all the jumping, slipping, sliding, and avoiding roots, the 10 felt like much, much, more. And, my shoes were sopping wet and covered with mud.
I made a deal with myself and did another 2.5 miles and called it a day.
Yes, I was 4.5 miles short. No, I did not like that reality (although I did like the reality of the brownies and pizza at the "finish"). 3-4 inches of mud on the main road and creeks full of muddy water on the single track made for lots of jumping and lateral motions to deal with obstacles that couldn't be avoided. It felt like much more distance than it actually was. And, my shoes had some evidence of just how hard I'd worked for those 12.5 miles. Even after the last 2.5 miles on the road to shake loose much of the gunk, they looked like they'd had a rough day:
I'm hoping that in hindsight, the decision to limit the muddy miles will appear intelligent, but I'm somewhat apprehensive of the fact that it's 7 weeks 'til the marathon.
I'm recording 36.06 miles for this week (instead of breaking 40, per my training schedule). This total includes a great mid-week loop with a friend (on sabbatical from UW -- academic life sounds heavenly!) around Greenlake and yesterday's trial of next weekend's race course.
I now know that next week's 10K will be *very* hilly (including starting on a very steep hill, which is probably smart to space out the runners, but quite difficult, nonetheless). I'm not looking to PR, but the course is fully paved and will be traffic-controlled, so I am excited to push myself and to use the results to inject some useful data into the assessment of just how fit I am (allowing me to evaluate my goal pace for my first marathon in more than 2 and half years).