Sunday, January 4, 2009
Long Run Sunday: Westridge Canyon
When I went to bed last night, I had every intention of meeting up with the Trail Runners Club this morning to run one of my favorite trails in Sycamore Canyon. However, when I woke up with a sore ankle from last night's 6 recovery miles, I decided to err on the side of caution and forego the run with the club since running on uneven surfaces might exacerbate the injury.
Now, 'technical' trails are one thing. Running almost entirely on fire roads is another. With my trail gear already laid out, I figured I'd head for soft surfaces while getting in some hill training along with the scheduled long run by running at my favorite 'local' trails at Westridge Canyon. With the Houston Marathon looming a mere two weeks away, I had figured on somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-16 miles.
It's funny how things play out. I showed up fully intending on putting in the aforementioned mileage, but somewhere along the run, I decided to keep going.
I woke up around 6am and eventually made my way to the trailhead a little before 8am. Dressed in a sleeveless shirt and shorts, I immediately noticed how cold it was as I stepped out of my truck. It's a good thing I brought some sleeves and gloves. Once I was ready, I set off on the initial 3.5 mile climb up the dirt road. While it was a gorgeous morning on the surface, the cold winds in the canyons were whipping around in full force, making a 50+ degree morning feel considerably chillier. The hikers I passed here and there were bundled up pretty good, making me wonder if I should have brought along my ear warmers too.
I hit the dirt roads of Mulholland once my initial climb was done, and proceeded to head westward. I had only packed 2 GU Roctanes and zero salt capsules figuring it would be a medium long run at best. Was already kicking myself at mile 5 when I consumed my first gel since it was around this point that I felt like pushing myself further. Oh well. Onward I went.
The road was rarely level as if it wasn't a climb or a descent, there was some camber in either direction. This bothered my ankle some but tolerable. I've never gone beyond 6 mile mark at Westridge/Mulholland but today, I kept right on trucking along enjoying the scenary and exchanging pleasantries with the occasional hiker/runner passing by. I still felt good so I said what the hell and kept right on going. I hit mile 10 at about the hour and a half mark and decided to turn around here. Since it was a pure out and back, 20 miles would be the order of the day.
The hills on the way back definitely felt more pronounced as I had to hike them with more frequency than the first half of the run. I did my best to keep them brief and took in my 2nd and last GU around mile 12 and hoped it would fuel me for the long stretch back. The ankle was definitely sore during this stretch, as were my right hamstring and left glutes. Good times.
Mercifully, I hit the water station at mile 16 and change as I was all out of Cytomax. The next 3-4 miles were mostly downhill (thankfully) and I took the opportunity to relax some and take in the awesome views of the distant city and oceanline. The sun was now high in the sky and while still cool, I was caked in salt and eager to finish the run. When it was all said and done, I reached my the starting point at little over 3 hours on my feet, 20.05 miles completed.
With my body now craving some sodium, on the way back home I pulled into a KFC for some chicken strips, a chicken sandwich, cole slaw, mashed potato + gravy, and a large Dr. Pepper.
Hey - I gave my body what it craved. And I just ran 20 miles. Leave me alone.