I'm still happy as a clam after a magnificent run the the sun with my training partner Laura. We have had what feels like a full week of rain here in the Willamette Valley. I went to sleep last night to the sound of it dumping outside. I was already feeling a bit sore and fatigued from last week's trail race, a super speedy and long tempo run and a faster than usual "easy run". 17 miles seemed like a BIG deal. I hadn't run that far since back when Laura and I were training for a half marathon. I know. 1/2 marathons are only 13.1 miles. For some reason, we felt like we needed to add a 20 mile run to our training plan. Probably because after running marathons, half marathons seemed a little anti-climatic. On this 20 mile training run for our half marathon, I did a lot of whining. I was tired, hungry, hot or whatever I could think of at the time time. Why were we doing this in the first place? Somehow we managed to complete the 20 mile run but it remains ingrained in my brain. I had forgotten what anything longer than 13 feels like on the road since I've been doing trails since January. What? Only since January? Feels like I've been running trails forever! Anyhow, 15 miles on the trail, with the hills, etc. is hard work. I get tired fast out there. If a mere 15 trail miles felt hard, how would I be able to survive two additional miles on the roads where things weren't nearly as scenic and exciting?
My left glute was all, for lack of better word, jacked up. I did a lot of stretching, rolling around on the foam roller and sighing while watching my Friday night movie. Some muscles in my lower calf were randomly throbbing until Steve gave me a wonderful lower leg massage. I was still skeptical and kept looking for my ticket out of Saturday's run. I was still recovering from last week's race, right? My body wasn't feeling right. It would be pouring down rain the whole 3ish hours we'd be out there. I had a women's circle to host and attend at 11:00 that same day. Between my husband and running partner, there was no getting out of the run. My husband who runs in any condition will not listen to nor accept excuses when it comes to running. Likewise I have a training partner who is very consistent and dedicated. She isn't signed up for a marathon (yet) but is willing to train with me anyway. She would not only would be joining me but had also come up with our route. I guess I'd have to give it a try. I could always bail out if I wasn't feeling well.
When I woke up the next day I was feeling pretty good physically and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the weather had completely cleared. It was cool, dry and gorgeous outside. The route that Laura had designed was a combination of a downtown loop, an out and back to Amazon and a through the University area to the River Path. It connected us to three of the few drinking fountains in Eugene that are on during winter and had up hills and down hills in just the right places. My goal was to keep a nice slow pace not exceeding 10 minute miles. This would take some work on my part to keep the LSD pace. Laura likes to go faster than me. We both have Garmen's. Hers always says we're going slower than mine says we're going. I swear its some sort of conspiracy to make me run faster than I want to.
There was an easy steady flow of conversation as we started off our run. The most interesting thing we saw downtown a college kid sleeping face down in the middle of the sidewalk. Perhaps he drank too much the previous night and passed out? He looked quite peaceful. He reminded me of a friend who ended up sleeping the the bushes of a neighbor after a wild party that Steve and I threw back in the day. I guess we should have called 911 or checked his pulse or something but that surprisingly didn't cross either of our minds at the time. We also encountered a man in a walking cast, painfully walking around. He asked a question that I didn't hear. I assumed he was looking for spare change. It turned out that he just needed directions to the bus station. Laura steered him the right direction. I briefly wondered what his story was and hoped that he made to his destination.
Once we got out of the heart of downtown, we were surrounded by familiar sights and memories and lots of fellow runners along Amazon Path. This was Eugene Marathon territory. The loudest cheer section that helped lift my spirits immensely last year. It was such a gorgeous day. We were both on top of the world. We kept talking about how much easier it was to run on the roads and even the bark paths compared to the trails. I told Laura that I felt like I could run forever. Perhaps marathon training wasn't looking so bad after all. Our 17 miler felt more like an 8-10 miler. I chalked that up to the hill work, speed work and technical trails that we'd been running. The combination of road and trail running was only going to make me a stronger, tougher runner. The final portion of our route took us through the University of Oregon area where we got water at the legendary Hayward Field. From there we went down the river path to our third and final water fountain at EWEB. My car and Laura's house were a short mile and half away. After the last little climb my glute started complaining. Enough already! We had a lovely low grade downhill the last mile which made for a nice cool down.
It was the perfect run. Talk about runner's high! I was in a delicious state of bliss for hours on end after this run. I couldn't believe the trepidation on which I had looked at this run. 17 miles? That was nothing! My body, mind and spirit got into its groove and it all was so natural and effortless. I was excited about my marathon training and marathon goals again. Game on!