The reduction in mileage lately has been 1 part taper (Houston, T-minus 5 days) and another part giving-my-ankle-a-break to help it heal. But where has proper tapering ever gotten me in past? With my ankle feeling better lately and a second marathon (my goal race) in Surf City coming up in a mere 2 1/2 weeks (not to mention my first ultra in about a month), I can't keep slacking on my runs.
After getting out of work early, I headed for my favorite local trail at the tail end of the afternoon. It was still hot and windy when I got to the trailhead, but it just sounded so much more appealing than putting in mileage on the road with temps still hovering in the mid-80s (yep, not a typo).
The first 3.5 miles on this trail as I've mentioned previously are almost all uphill - almost 700 ft in elevation gain. It's a brutal way to start any run but today in particular was a bit tough. I was feeling a bit lethargic and not really into it...when I spot someone up ahead. It's a mother actually pushing a stroller up on the trail while RUNNING. Are you effing kidding me??
I slowly gain on her and I see that she's wheezing and red-faced. We're only a mile into from the start but trust me, those initial fire roads can make your heartrate redline no matter how fit you are. Can't imagine pushing a stroller up to boot. The only words I could think of saying to her at that moment was, "man - you are hardcore!", to which she could only offer up an out-of-breath laugh. She really did motivate me some and after passing, I gave it a little more effort.
Unfortunately, that only lasted another mile or so before I said screw it, and squeezed down some GU Roctane around mile 2 and a half or so. The one great thing about running on trails is that somehow, I worry less about pace and just instinctively, take in the beautiful scenary that's all around me. There's the lush bush and trees of the canyon below and on a clear day like today, the coastline and city are in full view at certain points on the ridge.
I reached the top of the trail at mile 3.5 or so and kept going down dirt Mulholland for a couple more miles before doing an about face and heading back. I'd removed my shirt at this point and while the sun was dropping lower and lower on the horizon, it was still very warm out and I had a nice sheen of sweat and salt coating my skin. Real sexy, I know.
Thankfully, most of the way back was downhill and when it was all said and done, 10.10 miles were covered just as the sun was starting to set.