I was off to meet the CA Cruisers this morning at our usual spot along the Santa Ana River Trail. It was a nippy, at least for us cold wimps here in southern CA, 41°F. We had a really good turnout, nearly the whole group had shown up. The sun was shining and once I got going I warmed up nicely. I started off in a sweatshirt and gloves but ended up carrying them the second half of the run.
I wasn't sure what to expect today. When we got the email this week from our group organizer, she sent me and Mike a separate email introducing us to Patrick. Pat had just recently moved back to California, living in Newport Beach. Pat was apparently a faster runner and she was hoping we could run with him. I'm all for meeting new running partners, I just wasn't sure how fast or how far I would be going on Saturday. After getting to the trail, being introduced and finding out that Pat had run Boston, I was pretty sure that I wasn't going to be up to running at his pace. Boston, heck, you gotta be fast to run Boston. Boston is not even on my radar. I need to take 37 minutes off my best time (or become a woman) to qualify for Boston. Neither scenario seems likely!
I was planning on 8 miles, Pat was initially hoping for 10. We decided to go out 4, turn around and see how we felt at 8 and possibly tack on the extra 2 in the other direction. We started out with the group with a 9:55, we picked it up to 9:10 for mile 2 and 8:30 for mile 3. Just after the four mile turn around Jesse caught up with us and ran us in. Pat and I both decided that 8 was enough. We averaged just less than 9 minute miles for the run. My legs felt tired but good. Pat's calves were tightening up. I think the pace was good for both of us. Although having BQ'd in the past, Pat's short tem goal is to get back to 4 hour marathons, a few runs with him may help get me there as well.
One of the goals of the group is to run at different places. Next weekend is my turn to host. I had planned to bring the group up to Bonelli Park. It is about a 30 minute drive up for most of them. Some of the group are running the Pacific Shoreline Marathon in Huntington Beach the following Sunday, Super Bowl Sunday. I am planning a run with mixed pavement and trails but not too many hills. Although the trails aren't super tough, compared to the relatively flat Santa Ana River Trail, they probably aren't a good idea the weekend before a marathon. I drove over to the park this afternoon to check the one possible water crossing. The water is low enough that we should all be able to get across easily with dry feet. Maybe some other time I can get them all back up and we can do some of the trails and hills.
After today's run, Jesse handed out entry forms to the 2006 Puma 5K Road Race Challenge Series. The series is four 5K's, three in north Orange County but the first is in San Diego. Jesse was pretty excited about it. His last two marathons took their toll so he wants to concentrate on speed at shorter distances. Unlike Brent, I still haven't firmed up any plans for 2006. This might be a fun way to start and a diversion from marathon training.