Ran about 4 hours (19 miles) on Wildwood in Forest Park this morning. After last Sunday's bonk, I was nervous. But everything still works and it was a good run. As my son would say, "Yeah, Baby!"
This morning, I met my friend Janet at the beginning of Wildwood trail in Washington Park. As some of you locals already know, Wildwood is a 30 mile trail with a lot of access points. I've never started from "zero" before and wanted to try something different. I run with Janet during the week and we've trained together for marathons. But she hasn't been running long on the weekends lately. She planned to turn back after about 3-4 miles and I was going to continue on for at least 8. Even for that short time, I was glad to have the company. I'm certainly able to run by myself for hours. But its been over a month since I've run any of my long runs with a partner. And I think I'm starting to get a bit lonely out there. Running the 50K with Marc is going to be a treat!
I woke early at 4:45 am so I'd have time to eat some cereal and digest before running. We started at about 6:30. The trail climbs gradually for about 1/2 mile and then rolls for a couple of miles. Janet turned around at about 3-3/4 miles. The first major milestone is Pittock Mansion, which is about 4 miles into the run. It's also the high point at about 900 feet. This seems to be the turnaround point for a lot of runners, resulting in a nice 8-ish mile run with a few hills but nothing too challenging. But right after you reach this crest, the trail drops more steeply, by about 700 feet within 1-1/2 miles. With my legs still fresh it was nice running down the trail and I tried not to think about what it would be like running back up. At the bottom, the trail climbs again, but more gradually. I walked some of the steeper sections, but was able to run most of it. My general plan was to turn around where the Dogwood trail intersects at about 8-1/2 miles. But in the back of my mind, if I were still feeling good, I wanted to continue on and turn around when I'd been out for 2 hours. This turned out to be the case so I kept going after Dogwood. Just a bit before 2 hrs in, I saw the marker for 9-1/4 and thought it would be perfect to turn around at 9-1/2. However, I think the 9-1/2 marker is missing, so I guesstimated and turned around at 2 hrs 1 minute.
Running back was fairly easy until I hit the hill going back up to Pittock Mansion. The first third to half was runnable, but after that I had to hike up the rest of the way to the top. Back down the other side and I passed the spot where Janet had turned around. As I noticed the mile markers, I would remind myself how much better I felt at this point in the run than I did last week. I got back to the start in 3 hrs 58 minutes.
With the exception of a major margarita lapse on Thursday, I really paid attention to proper hydration this week. I think it made the difference. I decided to forgo gels and brought along Clif Bloks, Sports Beans and some low-fat potato chips. I ate 5 Bloks, none of the beans and a few of the chips. I had a funny sensation when eating the chips. At the time, I was by myself with tall trees all around. I took one bite and the crunching sound echoed inside my head. The sound was overwhelming! I couldn't tell if the echo was just for me or if everyone around for miles could hear the crunch reverberate through the forest. Strange.
I feel like I'm back in the saddle, so to speak. Nothing like a good run to bring you out of the doldrums! I want to run 31 miles this weekend, so that means tomorrow will be at least 12, time and place TBA. However, Marc is going to run in the morning so I get to sleep in.