In many places I have lived throughout the country, I had to resign myself to months of winter. I remember several months at a time of grey, drizzly weather in the Pacific Northwest. So a big storm was often followed with more of the same. In the Midwest, a storm would leave piles of snow that turned grey and black from cars and exhaust. Then there would be the dirty, grimy slush that inevitably followed. At least in Reno, a storm was often followed by cold, clear weather, which made for great skiing. But Southern California is the best! After a week of a miserable storm, we were treated with a weekend of spring weather. It was enough to recharge my soul and prepare me for the next round of rain due to hit us tomorrow. We don't need to wait for Groundhog's Day in February to tell us when spring is coming; around here, we just need to wait it out for a week or two.
Yesterday, I headed down to Huntington Beach and ran a good chunk of the Surf City course. It was a PERFECT day at the beach. As I passed scores of runners, I wondered which ones I would be running with in two weeks. Many people were donning Surf City shirts from years past. I love the long sleeve technical shirts and can't wait to get mine.
On the schedule was sixteen miles. The plan was to warm up for two miles and then run twelve miles at "race pace," ending with two miles of cool-down. I started out feeling great. My fist mile was faster than a warm-up really should be. I ran it in 9:20. I slowed down a bit and ran the second in 9:35.
The next miles I was hoping to run at a pace right around 9:00/mile. A sub-four marathon is 9:10, but I would hope to keep it closer to 9:05. I still haven't decided if I am even going to go for it. That is the subject of another post, however. I ran the next six miles at a pace between 8:47 and 9:00/mile. Mile 9 was just over 9:00, but I am pretty sure that was when I ate a Gu and checked a map*.
I ran through the Huntington Beach Central Park where I saw some storm damage. There was a huge tree over the path that looked like it was hit by lightning. I wish I would have stopped to take a picture of it, but I was in a groove at that point. I ran around the lake and then back into the streets of Huntington Beach.
I ran along the Bolsa Chica wetlands. I had been looking forward to it, since I had read several accounts that it is filled with a ton of birds and other wildlife. I was a bit underwhelmed. I guess I expected a beautiful reserve. Instead I saw this:
Don't get me wrong, it is nice and I am sure the wildlife is impressive. What I didn't really love were the oil drills every few hundred feet. And I expected more vegetation, I suppose, instead of the vast expanse of sand and water. It was nice running for a bit on a trail, but I think I would prefer the canyons out by my house.
When I got back to the beach, I was starting to feel tired. Mile 11 was the slowest of my "pace" miles (9:07). I was starting to fatigue and there were several spots where sand covered the path. The sand was tough to run through and I don't think it was very good for my foot/ankle that was starting to really bother me.
Do you ever notice people who pass you on a running route who look like they are barely working? I mean, I am pushing to maintain a pace and someone looks SO relaxed and comfortable zipping past you. I don't get it. A couple of times I tried to fall into step with some runners. They looked so relaxed, how hard could it be to catch up? Unfortunately, I picked a guy who is 6'2 first, so his easy stride doubles mine. It gets frustrating. I feel like I look like I am sprinting while these other runners gently cruise by me, fast enough for me to feel the wind from them.
So I focused on passing other runners or keeping up with faster ones, in order to keep from getting bored. I was tired by this point and ready to be done. How am I going to go twenty-six miles in two weeks? I decided to see if I still had a little juice in the tank for mile 14. I ran that last "pace" mile in 8:20. THAT'S what I'm talking about. I wanted to be done, so instead of "cooling down" I ran miles 15 and 16 in 8:39 and 9:12. Overall, I averaged around 9:00 for all sixteen miles. Not bad! The problem is that I don't think I could keep that up for another ten miles. Maybe with a nice taper and not running eight miles the day before. Who knows? But that is a discussion best left to another post.
All in all, it was a gorgeous Southern California day and it did wonders for my outlook. I am ready for the next wave of rain! And I am definitely excited to run Surf City!
Happy running everyone.
*I recently upgraded to a smart phone. It was a complete splurge as I do not have any justifiable reason for a fancy phone. My husband, however, does. When he bought his Motorola Droid, Verizon was offering a Droid Eris for free. Score! It was a bit of a Christmas present for myself. I LOVE being able to look up my mapped run and determine where I am without carrying a crumpled up piece of paper.