Sunday, November 16, 2008

Run To The Beach

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.


Anonymous said...

What an accomplishment, what with the warm, dry and windy conditions.

Thankfully, you didn't have to also contend with smoke!

david said...

Enjoy the taper....Less than three weeks and we will be in Memphis.

Backofpack said...

Yikes! Tough conditions out there - good for you for getting through it. Those are the runs I remind myself of when I'm in the last miles and don't think I can make it. Sometimes training runs are less about the miles and more about the mental piece - which is what that run gave you! You will do great!

Greg said...

Insanity! I just glanced at the current temp for Covina. It's 5pm and still 91 degrees? Here in the Sacramento area it's been nice all day, it didn't even reach 80 today. I don't envy you. Great job running 22 miles, have a fun taper.

David said...

Way to go!
I cannot imagine Memphis being like that so get ready for a completely different experience.

Burger said...

"But runner’s memories can’t really be counted on when it comes to recalling the toughness of a run or race." true. We are the kings and queens of hyperbole.

Great job on the 22 (!) miles in pretty gnarly heat. Now, taper up and go kick some ass in Tennessee!

Legs and Wings said...

Bone dry. I wonder what that feels like? Sounds like truly tough conditions. And, now it's all downhill to Tennessee as you taper. Good job Darrell to get through this segment. Now you can start to get excited about the trip.

Nick said...

That’s great you stuck it out and finished it.

Not sure what your diet is like, but take some extra iron and see if it helps with being tired.
I'm not a huge meat eater so I do take iron supplements and it does help with being tired.

I've been on many "long Runs" and have ran out of water/fluids. -Not fun.

I was in Tennessee yesterday and it was a lot cooler than what you are experiencing now.

Jean said...

Very nice run, Darrell. The hard work is over, so let the taper begin! :) Excellent work!

Wes said...

ha ha ha! Cooler weather in Tennessee is guaranteed!!!

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Oh I wish I could run with you in Tennessee! Have a good restful taper and run well. I do think the temperature will be much nicer there too.

Joe said...

Wow, you did a good job to gut that out, Darrell. GREAT news the shin didn't act up.

Boy, from my hydration work this fall it really sounds like you dehydrated to some degree and/or lost out on electrolytes. That heavy feeling and dislike for fluids at the end is a telling clue.

The fluids should be more available in Memphis and I promise we'll not have any Santa Anas there. Of course, you didn't see Elvis in the culverts either...and we'll see lots of him in Tennessee......

Dori said...

Good job on your 22 mile run. You're so ready for Tennessee!

I'm familiar with the river trail, though I've never run it that far. I'm glad Carol was safe running alone. The Disneyland Marathon runs along there for a little while. The year I ran it, it was unseasonably hot, although it was Labor Day weekend. I was glad I wore my water belt that day.