The last long run before the marathon is complete and I am thankful for that. It was one of the toughest runs in memory. But runner’s memories can’t really be counted on when it comes to recalling the toughness of a run or race. It’s sort of like a women and childbirth.
We did something Saturday that we’ve talked about for a couple of years but just never got done. We ran to the beach. The group today was Terry, Mike, Carol and me. Many of the CA Cruisers were running the inaugural Pasadena Marathon on Sunday.
Typically I drive to the beach and run my long runs along the bike paths that parallel the beach. On many occasions I do my runs on the bike paths that parallel the drainage canals, aka rivers, in LA/OC as out and backs. Saturday we parked our cars in Yorba Linda where I first started training years ago. We hopped on the Santa Ana River Trail at the usual spot, mile marker 22.5, and headed toward the beach.
By all accounts it should have been a fairly easy run, except for the 22 mile part. The rivers all run to the beach. Rivers don’t run uphill so the whole thing was downhill, a very gradual downhill, but downhill none the less. When we arrived the Santa Ana winds were kicking up something fierce. The good thing is that the winds would be at our backs the entire way. Couple that with the downhill aspect and we had all the advantages in our favor.
The wind was actually more of a negative. The Santa Ana’s are accompanied by warmer than normal temperatures and bone dry humidity. It was already in the mid 60’s when we got started at 6:00 a.m. with projected highs for the day into the 90’s. The super arid air made proper hydration a key issue of the day. As nice as a downhill trail along a river sounds, in LA it means being fully exposed to the sun the entire time with a huge cement culvert on one side. An advantage of this type of trail is that it is nearly impossible to get lost.
The four of us are all planning on marathons the first week of December. I’m off the Tennessee of course, Terry is off to Sacramento for the California International Marathon, while Mike and Carol are off to Tuscon. Carol’s pace is slower so she had started 30 minutes ahead of the three of us. We wondered when and if we would ever catch her.
The run started uneventfully except for the wind. The three of us just marched along following Mike’s run/walk schedule of 5:30/0:45. At drank something at almost every walk break. It was so dry out there. By mile 14 I started to lag behind Mike and Terry a little bit. The mother in Terry came out to make sure I was doing all right. My shin was fine, I was just “pooped”. I’ve been pretty tired on all my runs since the 20 miler three weeks ago. I gave them permission to go on without me. I planned on finishing the 22 miles but I was going to have to slow down.
Soon afterward, Mike admitted that he too would not be able to keep up with Terry. He fell back a few yards with me. He stopped to adjust his watch timer for shorter run segments. I expected him to catch me but he never did. He kept fading further and further back.
At this point, around mile 15 or so, I had that currently familiar thought about how nice it would be to just do half marathons. I had to chuckle to myself over that. The last 6 miles we were four people running alone. Terry had continued on feeling strong, I continued to plod along, while Mike faded further. Carol was up there somewhere still to be caught. Once on my own, I set my watch to 5:1 and soon adjusted that to 4:2.
With 5 miles to go, I saw a female runner up ahead. She was walking and running as well. During my run segments I gained very little on her, but didn’t loose much ground during the walk segments. It took me a mile and half to catch her. It turned out to be Carol. I haven’t run with her often and didn’t recognize her silhouette.
With 2 miles to go, I was completely out of fluids. I had been sucking on ClifBlocks for several miles just to keep my mouth moist. About a mile from the beach I could see the ocean waves crashing under the bridge at PCH and knew I was going to make it. My pace at this point was roughly 12 to 13:00 per mile. I got to the 0 mile marker on the trail just completely spent, thirsty and hungry.
My final time was right at 4:00 for a 10:55 pace overall. I think we were around 9:30 for the first 10 to 12 miles, but I don’t really know since I wasn’t tracking mile splits. The first thing I did was wash my face at the restroom at Huntington Beach. I tried to drink some water, but at first I felt like I was going to lose it. I sat down and tried to recover. I returned to the drinking fountain and was able to get some water down. We waited a few minutes for our ride back. Terry had arranged with her daughter to pick us up and drive us back to Yorba Linda.
I told Terry that I was never running that one again! Yet I know that I likely will. The weather was just not what any of us would expect. It is the middle of November for goodness sakes and yet we are still having summer like weather in the 90’s. I’m counting on cooler weather in Tennessee.
Final mileage for the week was 33.7. Let the taper begin.