It's that time of year again, when my morning runs (which have been getting lighter every day) are brutally plunged back into darkness, just so that others can have daylight longer in the evenings. Oh, me too, but between work and the Y I doubt if I'll hardly notice it for a few weeks further into spring.
Yesterday, while still on old time (standard time), it was nicely light when I left home a bit after 7 a.m. to begin my trek up to Anacortes for the Sunset Loop 10-miler. (You know, my opportunity for total humiliation.)
The run didn't start until 10 a.m., but I wanted to leave early to allow time to stop at Starbucks, pick up my mother of course, and still get to Anacortes in time to do a long warm-up, ideally a preview of the 2½ mile loop (in order to make the 10 mile run 12½ miles total).
Of course I left home 15 minutes later than planned, and there was some delay at my mother's, and Washington Park is further out of Anacortes than I had recalled (past the Anacortes ferry, and I was really just thinking about downtown), and there was actually a line to check in when I finally got there. So, bottom line, I didn't feel like I had enough time to safely start around the loop and risk being caught somewhere out in the middle too close to the starting time.
So I did my warm-up out and back, about 7/8 mile along the loop, up the first two hills and then back down on my return to the starting line.
And guess what? I wasn't the only solo runner. There were 23 other lunatics like me out there.
And guess what else? I wasn't the slowest runner either. My mother reported that there were definitely runners finishing behind me, including some relay team members. I guess I'll get a better perspective on my place in the crowd when they post the results on the Anacortes city website.
Not that it matters. This was a long run for me, not a race, remember? My only goal as to time or pace was to have my last quarter faster than each of the first three quarters. And I accomplished that, although I suspect I was running the uphills slower by the fourth time around—I really pushed and pounded on the downhills and levels (what there were of them).
This was an incredibly tough—I mean challenging—course. Each of the four loops was 2½ miles. The actual Sunset Loop road is only about 2¼ miles around, so they added a small inner loop through the campground to make up the distance. (The course was totally unmonitored, so I guess everyone was on the honor system not to skip the extra loop!) The first half of the main loop is a series of moderate to steep uphill climbs. Somewhere past the midpoint the road starts to slope downhill again, with just one additional hillclimb thrown in. Then the last ¾ to one mile runs downhill back to the parking lot and start/finish line. That is where the relay runners traded off to their teammates and the rest of us heard our interim times as we started out on yet another loop.
I'll have to double check my times later, but I think this is what they were (the times reflecting the total time to that point):
First loop: 24:20 min.
Second loop: 48:59 min. (There was a discrepancy between what I thought I heard and what the record-keeper's clipboard said, but I'm pretty sure I heard 49 minutes after I passed through, so I think I'm right.)
Third loop: 73:52 min.
Fourth loop and final time: 97:15 (that's one hour, 37 minutes, 15 seconds). I thought I heard them say 1:47:15, which left me dismayed throughout my cool-down run, but then I checked the clipboard and was relieved to see the correct, lesser time!
I spent a lot of time with the calculator on my phone figuring out the time for each loop, the pace for each loop, the pace overall (about 9:44 average overall, about 9:15 for the last loop, I think), but I'm not going to bother reciting all that here.
With my 1¾ mile warm-up run, I was still a little short of my 12+ mile goal for today, so I decided I needed a cool-down run to finish out the mileage. I figured 5/8 mile each way would give me a mile and a quarter, for a total of 13 miles, close to the full half marathon distance.
This was the slowest 1¼ mile I have ever run in my life, I'm sure. As I shuffled out onto the trail, a woman who appeared to be starting the final loop in the relay asked me if this was my fourth time around. Fifth, I said, then amended to clarify it was a cool-down. This woman, whose entire relay team was slow enough that I could run ten miles in the time it took them to do 7½, passed and pulled ahead of me. Yes, I was going that slowly. I thought the 5/8 mile mark would never arrive! (Luckily, the road back was then downhill. Thank you, gravity.)
These hills were so challenging, that I'm hoping Portland next weekend will seem easy in comparison!
When we finally left the park, around noon, we stopped at the Calico Cupboard in Anacortes for a rejuvenating cinnamon roll (shared, of course), and a light lunch (soup and salad and a big hunk of hearty grain bread with honey butter). I also had ordered one of their scrumptious peanut butter pies to bring to an auction that evening.
I hobbled out of the Calico Cupboard (muscle soreness setting in a bit) carrying my PB pie, to rush back home to soak in a hot bath (loaded with Epsom salts) and get ready for the auction.
For everyone who wondered how Katie Holmes could run the New York Marathon and then go out in high heels that night, let me say, wearing high heels after a long run is a piece of cake. If anything, it's easier than wearing flat shoes because the high heels require less flexibility in your calves and achilles tendons (which just might be tightening up a bit). (Of course, that might bode ill for the next day, but I was amazingly fine today. Only my quads were sore, which I suspect was from the downhills.)
I almost flipped out at the auction because my dinner ticket showed fish instead of cow (beef), and I had been counting on the London Broil... to rebuild muscle, you know. But I just hid the ticket and asked for beef, so that worked out fine. (Others may have complained that the meat was underdone, or not warm enough, but as I got my cow meat I was happy.) Red meat, red wine, and two pieces of chocolate cake (someone else's dessert donation, and it was scrumptious!)—what more could you ask for in a post-long-run meal?