8 miles - 1:14:00 - +/-627' - Another night run from home to the USFS trails. The paths back there seem to spiderweb and rearrange themselves when I'm not looking. I can always find my way home, but usually by stumbling upon a familiar intersection that calms my mounting concern that I may have to start bushwhacking and hope for the best. A fun and slightly unnerving aspect of these solo night runs are reflective green eyes in the woods. When on the mesa or in the park, I'll illuminate several (up to 20 so far) sets of eyes at once. When my eyes adjust, I can see the silhouettes of deer and all is well. On this particular evening, I was at a slightly higher elevation along the boulders at the base of mount Elden. I saw one solitary set of green eyes staring at me for what felt like several minutes. Neither of us looked away. I didn't die and nothing came of it as usual. Probably a small cat or something, but I can't always resist the urge to indulge my own imagination.
3 miles - 25:00 - Immediately after getting home, I realized I had promised to buy toothpaste. Funny how the last 1% of a tube can last two weeks. You haven't been broke (or lazy) until you've taken a pair of scissors to a tube of toothpaste. Anyway, I didn't want to get my car all muddy or shower so I added bonus miles.
AM - 7.5 miles - 1:15:00 - +/- 469' - Kelsey and I ran the iconic West Fork Trail near the village of Oak Creek. We had been in search of a run that felt more like home. As much as I like the challenge of rocks, dust, and sun exposure, I'll admit that a gently rolling, nontechnical trail near water was just what I needed. A beautiful creek with lots of greenery and grandiose red cliffs, along with 14 crossings to splash through, felt like a small vacation. The trail was far from secluded, but sharing a place with other people is understood in such a popular spot.
PM - 4 miles - 45:00 - We hopped in the car and figured there was time to get a peek at Devil's Bridge before heading home. Some rugged dirt road to a trailhead, then a short uphill rock staircase to the turnaround. Being new to an area and seeing the requisite sights has been good for running.
|Totally staged. The trail goes nowhere. Cool, right?|
20.5 miles - 3:50:00 - +/- 3100' - This run meant a great deal to me. Multiple failed attempts at solo long efforts had me concerned that I just didn't have it in me anymore to do this. I worried that I lacked the attention span or the discipline to get out and not come back until the goal distance was met. I had 20 miles on the Calendar, and feared that I'd come up with a reason to quit. The long, solo run in the trails is the crux of ultramarathon running in my mind. Being able to enjoy and focus on a long, sustained effort is what makes the sport unique, and this is my first time doing it in quite some time. For the last couple years, I've taken some pride in my ability to quit when things aren't fun. I rationalized that it was me "being true to myself" and that I could be successful by doing exactly what I want and nothing more. The truth is that it doesn't work that way. I'm learning (or perhaps re-learning) that joy and satisfaction come from the toils that we donn't quite think we can endure. I occasionally considered calling it a day, or going home to get some food and resuming the run later. Not doing so, I believe, came from having a real plan. Today was long run day, and tomorrow was rest day. If I put the rest of the run off until tomorrow, I'd cut into an important rest period, which cuts into the hill repeats the day after that.
The run itself was enjoyable, with no set route in mind. I jogged the two miles to Buffalo Park, then up the Oldham Trail to Lookout Road. It's 7.5 miles of mostly climbing. I attempted to posthole through the snow on the Sunset trail, but quickly got frustrated when the ice was drawing blood on my sockless ankles and calves. Well, that, and I lost the trail and ended up on the side of the mountain. I scrambled back down to the road and continued to the Rocky Ridge Trail, where I did a couple miles out/back. Oldham/Buffalo Park/urban trail home. Though I'm supposed to be in a base-building mode, I felt a strong urge to be off of a flat, boring trail and ran the last mile in 6:40.
OFF - Rest day on the calendar, so I abstained from running. The slight lethargy I felt in my long run also encouraged a day off. A bike ride to lunch and back was all the activity my body saw. It felt good and weird. I had the whole day off of school and work as well, so I didn't really have anything to build my day around. This was evident by me doing nothing productive aside from cleaning the kitchen and obsessing over when my new running shoes would get here.
10 miles - hill workout - 4 mile warmup with Kelsey to and around Buffalo Park, then my first workout in a few weeks. 8x60seconds with approximately 90seconds rest (or the time it took to scuffle back down to the start). 4 miles easy to cool down. Workouts are a nice distraction from the fact that I'm out jogging 10 miles. Breaking it up into a warmup, workout, and cooldown made it more manageable in my mind. The workout itself wasn't incredibly strenuous, but made me gasp for air and shake the dust off.
I sit here now, attempting to write a research paper and wonder why I can't. I've scrutinized running, nature, and my life to a great degree of late. The deadline is fast approaching, and I keep shying away from the word document. "Early Ambulation compared to Late Ambulation in Post-Operative Patients" is fairly interesting to me, but I can't seem to grind the paper out. It makes me wonder if I have any say-so at all about what I become fixated on. Stakes are relatively high, and I'm aware that this work will be reviewed by a notoriously tough grader. Instead of facing the problem head-on, I'm avoiding it, and wondering why. Sure, it's banal nonsense that strikes me as a feeble attempt to make things seem harder in order to justify its own existence, but I have to do it. More importantly, I have to do it so I can get it the hell out of the way, freeing me up to do things I enjoy. I'm fairly clever, but my laziness outweighs it in most circumstances, like this one.
AM - 6 miles - 50 minutes - +/-430' - Easy six miles on the same route I've been running. Got as far as the Pipeline trail before the watch told me to turn around. The sun was warm and I had my shirt off while crunching ice beneath my feet. The realization that I was pretty much naked while water could still be in a solid state made me fear the upcoming Arizona summer and Zane Grey. I'm such a bitch in hot weather. Were I more attractive, I could be used alongside those polar bears to warn everyone about global warming...or something.
7 miles - 57:00 - +/- 560' - I couldn't spare much more than an hour today, given that a research paper owned my soul for a couple days. Getting out for a run gave a short reprieve from hunkering over in a wobbly chair at my kitchen table. Seeing sun and feeling warmth, this run was more of a therapeutic effect than a training one. Usual gravel urban trail jog to the singletrack, then turned around. Maybe its the fresh legs from the low mileage in the last couple days, but I'm feeling a bit more confident on the technical stuff.
Total: 66 miles, 11:08:00(ish). The good news is that I put in another week of real running. The slight downer is that my overall pace for a week was 10min/miles or so. I guess taking it easy will do that.