Monday, March 16, 2009

a great run (aka more therapy)

I had 18 miles on the schedule on Sunday. After a busy, busy day Saturday hosting my daughter's big birthday party, I wasn't up for an early run, so I missed running with Laura, who needed to get an early start. I had a lazy morning helping a three-year-old open new toys (and keeping her five-year-old brother from taking them over). I was having a hard time getting motivated and didn't get out of the house until noon.

Instead of driving somewhere like Mission Bay or downtown to run 18, I decided that I wanted to run in the canyon behind our house. This is where Kenny and I rode our mountain bikes a month or so ago and I figured it would be a great run. It didn't disappoint.

It was harder than my typical long run. I ran over 17 miles, all on fire roads or single track trails and the elevation gain/loss totaled over 1850 feet! According to my Garmin, one spot had a 35% grade. Is that even possible? It was probably one of those spots I had to walk. While I didn't get all 18 miles in, I figure that I ran roughly the equivalent (or more) and got my hill workout for the week out of the way! I don't think I could have done another mile. I was out of water* and was worked.

I had planned on listening to a podcast or two. However, I wanted to start out with some music to get me a little more pumped up for the run. I never switched to the podcasts. I was really enjoying being out in the canyon listening to music. I had a cathartic moment out there on the trails due to one of the songs. A song I hadn't listened to in a very long time came on. It was "I Could Not Ask for More" by Edwin McCain. The words to the song made me think about how lucky I am to have my husband and children. Two weeks in a row now, my long run has helped me focus on what is important. These runs are becoming a key part of my mental health. They combine time by myself, physically challenging myself and good music. It has to be better than therapy or drugs...

Could not ask for more - Edwin McCain

Here are the words that really touched me:

"These are the moments I thank God that I'm alive.
These are the moments I'll remember all my life.
I've found all I've waited for,
And I could not ask for more."

I can't believe that I had never run out there before (I have only gone on the small path system put in our neighborhood). I never realized that it is a wildlife reserve! As I got further away from our house and all the water district service roads, I started seeing hikers, mountain bikers and one horseback rider. I think I counted at least a dozen hikers. At one point I stopped and talked to two women who happened to also be runners. They asked me how far I was going and then what I was training for. Both of them had run the Rock n Roll Marathon last year. As are most runners I meet, they were super friendly and I enjoyed the break.
There were only two things that I would categorize as negative. The first is that I got my first sunburn of the year! I left the house and there was a cool breeze and the forecast said it wouldn't get much over 60. I was wearing a long-sleeve technical shirt that breathes really well. Well... not enough. A few miles into the run, I was HOT. I usually don't run in just a sports bra, but there was no way I was going for more than three hours in a long-sleeved shirt. Unfortunately, I didn't plan for that and didn't have any sunscreen on. Ouch!

The other was how I totally freaked myself out about snakes**. For the first three hours, the creepiest critter I thought about were the dozens of caterpillars crawling along the fire roads. During the last couple of miles of my run, I thought I saw s-shaped tracks in the dirt that could only be from a snake. I started getting very anxious. I even jumped over a suspicious stick. The worst of it came when I missed the turnoff for the trail back to my neighborhood. At this point I was very tired and VERY thirsty. I wasn't going to backtrack, so I decided the only thing to do was hike up through the brush to find the trail. It was TORTURE. I turned off my iPod so I could listen for a rattle. I made my way through the brush convinced that at any moment I would hear or see a snake. I finally made it to the trail and ran as fast as my exhausted legs could go back to my car.***
I am very pleased with myself. I was not motivated at all to get out there, yet once I did, I had a fantastic 17 mile run. It was my longest trail run by far. I ran it at an 11-minute-mile pace. I don't think that is too shabby. I am looking forward to the next one.

*I only have three bottles for my hydration belt. I lost the fourth during the final stretch of the AFC half marathon and didn't want to go back for it. On a warm day out on the trails, 30 ounces isn't quite enough.
** I was told, quite equivocally, by both my husband and my neighbor that it is much too early for snakes...even on a lovely sunny day. They both chuckled at me when I told them of my fear. I am not sure if I will be running back there this summer. shiver...
***I parked my car at the bottom of the hill going into our neighborhood. I knew that the last thing I would want to do after a 17 or 18 mile run was go straight up a hill to my house.


Amanda said...

Great pics, that's a gorgeous place to run. I love that song, it is a good reminder to us all to be grateful for what we have. Hope the sunburn feels better this morning.

Emma said...

That is one of my favorite songs. I had tears spring to my eyes just listening to it. So glad you got out and had a run. Does wonders for the spirit, eh? Oh and I totally hear you on the snakes. We have a great trail running through our hometown and EVERY time we have taken a family bike ride we run across at least 2 or 3 snakes. Gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about them. We even saw a coral snake once. so pretty but deadly. Enjoy your post today.

Alissa said...

As soon as read "wild life preserve" I thought about snakes. I guess I'm not the only one who gets freaked out by them. You have rattlers there? Sounds like a great run. And I know exactly what you mean, getting your therapy from your run. By the way, someone once told me you can count every 500 feet of elevation gain as another mile. I don't know if that is true, but I like it. That's a great song. I might just have to download it.

Irish Cream said...

Wow, GREAT job on the long run, Lisa! That is some crazy elevation change!

I really don't think I could handle running in a place where there actually ARE snakes. I am terrified even in Brooklyn (and I'm pretty sure we are essentially snake-less minus maybe an escaped pet or two . . . but just that possibility is enough to terrify me!!)

Glad your long runs have been so awesome and therapeutic for you lately! :)

tgorourke said...

I am SO JEALOUS of where you get to run - it is absolutely beautiful (ok, i can do without the snakes, though.)

Lisa, I'm so glad for you that these long runs have been so therapuetic. you have way too much stress on you right now.

A hug to you - wish I could see you in person to give it to you.


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