Yesterday was a awesome day on the trails of Auburn. I had been planning on running 23 miles yesterday and that is just what I did. My longest run up to this point was 14 miles. Life has happened and I have had to alter my training program a bit.
So last week was a down week, as I was watching my nephew and helping out with the family and work has caused me some headache and I just didn't find the time to run. But with a down week, meant my body could heal and get some much needed rest as I have been building my mileage over the past few months.
It was dark when I arrived at the Overlook. My dinky little flash light wasn't much help when I started but luckily the sun was slowly coming up and I really didn't need it. I did miss having Traildog with me. I had left him at home to get some rest. I headed down the dam hill with the one thought in my head, oh crap, I have to run back up this. Now if you haven't run this hill, it is 3.3 miles of up hill running and that will really cause ones legs to burn. I cruised down it not wanting to blow up my quads and just really enjoyed being out on the trails.
I hit the single track and my legs were feeling pretty good, no aches no pains and I was cruising nicely at a 9:30 pace during some sections of this trail. The trail was fast and tacky and the footing was great. I was able to find my rhythm and all felt right. I was mentally focused, I was in tune with my body, and I was running smooth. It felt awesome to be this comfortable on the trail.
As the miles clicked by I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was already 5 miles in my run and it hadn't even been an hour. I hit 6 miles right at an hour, I did the math in my head and I was doing 10 minute miles with some 9:30 thrown in. It felt awesome. I was excited because I had planned on turning around at 2 hours and than pushing myself on the return knowing I had the DAM hill to get up. I fueled at 6 miles, took in a GU and a salt.
My body was feeling strong and I was powering up the small rollers like I have never done before. I was moving. I arrived at Avery's Pond and like always chuckled and thought of Trailmomma. "How will I know when I arrive at Avery's Pond?" It never fails, I always laugh and play out that conversation. How I miss running with her. The answer; there is a sign!
I was almost to Rattlesnake and I was still feeling strong. I wasn't having any issues. I was staying on top of my fueling and hydration. I was still mentally focused, which surprised me because a few days ago I wasn't focused at all. I hit my turn around in 2 hours, 11.5 miles. Here I took off my long sleeve, took a GU and a salt and headed back.
On the return I knew it was going to be challenge to negative split it as going back there is a bit more hills than coming down. But I was up for the challenge and having this challenge allowed my mind to focus on the small goal for the day. I took it mile by mile, power hiking when I needed too and running. Eventually I heard Anthony's voice in my head and remembered how runnable this section of trail could be and I started to push myself once again. I was occasionally having to stop and stretch as my legs were aching, which is normal.
Just like when I started, going back the miles were flying by, soon enough I would be at the base of the DAM hill and only have 3.3 miles of uphill running left to do. I knew that once I arrived at the base of the DAM hill that it was/is runnable, but I had to be in the right mind frame. I couldn't let the hill get into my head. As I neared the base I slowly visualised myself running up it and I think that helped me get focused. As once I arrived at the base I was mentally ready and I had my plan of attack.
I power hiked the first part as it was pretty steep, but slowly I gave myself goals to reach for. I would run -to that sigh-, now I would run to that rock. Small steps/goals is all it took. I broke the hill down into manageable parts this way it wouldn't feel so overwhelming and slowly but surly I was making it up to the top. Small goals, mind tricks is how I kept going.
I arrived at the top in total time 4:19, not bad only adding 19 minutes to the return knowing how slowly the return trip really is. 23 awesome miles on the beautiful trails of Auburn. Not bad.
My training this year thus far has been far different than the past two years. Now that I am living on my own I am taking Traildog out almost everyday and when I run with him I am literally running speed every day (which I do not advice) So my leg turnover is quicker. I have taken him on the trails with me a couple of times and there he also pushes the pace, forcing me to run far faster than I ever thought possible. This has given me the confidence to work harder and push myself when I run by myself like yesterday's 23.
I am looking forward to my next long and I only hope it will be just as great as this one.