Nine people showed up to the run at an early 5:30 meetup time! I was so excited. We had people running six, eight, fourteen and eighteen miles. I was the only one running eighteen, so I made sure to have my music with me for those last lonely miles. We also had various paces. The group naturally fell into pace groups of two or three people.
I ran the first part with Shannon and Stacey. It was their first time running the creek and there are confusing turns in order to get to the trail heading out to Irvine Park. I didn’t want them getting lost. They run at a relaxed pace, a bit slower than I like to run my long runs, but it was a very pleasant way to warm up.
About four miles into it, as we were running around Irvine Park, I decided that I needed to make sure that I knew where Kelly, Marci and Kristen were. They were running fourteen and since Shannon and Stacey were only doing six or so miles, I wanted to keep the others in my sights. Shannon and Stacey urged me to go ahead. They knew how to get to the parking lot where Stacey and I had dropped off her car. They would be fine for the last few miles. So I ran ahead with Rod*, who had run back to check on Lori and Heidi behind us.
I caught up with Kelly, Marci and Kristen and ran with them down to and around Peters Canyon. Our pace increased from just under 12:00 for the first four miles to under 10:00 (except for the mile with two big hills in Peters Canyon) for the next several miles. We opted not to do the BIG hills in Peters but hills, in general, are unavoidable there.
One of the best things about running with Marci is that we can push each other well. Our paces are very similar and I am excited to run the Long Beach Marathon with her. She was running up the last big hill in Peters Canyon and I ran right alongside her. I could tell we both wanted to run to the top. It was great pushing myself like that, even if it was for a short hill. Kelly and Kristen followed behind us. We stopped at the top to drink some water, catch our breath and enjoy the scenery.
Kelly and Kristen cresting the hill
Marci enjoying the view
At this point, it was right about mile thirteen. Their cars were at the Albertsons parking lot about a half mile (uphill) away. We got to the cars and the three of them headed home. I still had over four miles to go. I decided to run into Irvine Park to refill some water. Even though the temperature was perfect, I had consumed most of the water I had carried with me.
We had all hoped to see wildlife during the run. In the past, we have seen deer, coyotes and even a couple skunks. The only wildlife spotted was during the solo section of my run.
I probably saw a dozen peacock. I had never seen so many together. They were like a flock…and I didn’t think they were flock birds. This was about half of them hanging around this parking lot in the park. Crazy.
The last five miles of my run went by quickly. My pace was all over the place due to the hills and terrain, but I was able to run mile sixteen at a 9:00 pace. I felt really good and didn’t feel much fatigue until about mile seventeen. By that time, I was on the trail back to the car and I knew I was almost done.
I ended up running 18.69 miles at a pace of 10:30 per mile. Having the run broken into three distinct sections** really helped to make it seem less like a long run. In fact, this was my favorite run in a while (replacing last week’s long run).
I took yesterday off, but easily could have run. I think I might add a Sunday recovery run into my plan. I ran six miles today and felt good. I am happy with how I am recovering from these long runs. I don’t remember enjoying them quite this much the last go-around. I am excited for the rest of the training cycle.
*Rod only ran between six and eight miles that day. Normally, he would have run the entire run with me.
**1st—Shannon and Stacey 2nd—Marci, Kelly and Kristen, 3rd—solo.