Sunday, December 23, 2007

Killer Long Ride & Peaceful Long Run

Things are starting to settle down slightly. We are officially moved in. I am closer to turning in my fellowship (I can't wait to turn it in and celebrate). Xmas shopping is over. I didn't really get a whole bunch of working out done this week but by the time the weekend got here, I was ready to throw down for my long ride and run.

Long Ride (Saturday):
It was one of the hardest rides I've ever done. Tour de Julian
was harder but only because I bonked. H-I-L-L-Y!!! And when I wasn't climbing, I was contending with a headwind. This is a good ride to do in the winter because east San Diego isn't hot. We had 3 flats, and were all tired but victorious at the end. I was ecstatic to make it back to the start. There were moments when I had serious doubts. 78 miles, baby! I made it back just in time to shower and change and run to the airport to make my flight.

Long run (Sunday):
Even though I was up north (San Jose, CA) to see my parents, I was still determined to do my long run. I ran 10 miles (5 out, 5 back) on the Los Gatos Creek Trail, a beautiful, scenic east-west, 10-mile paved trail that starts in Los Gatos. I wasn't sure how I'd feel after the killer ride the day before. My quads were shot but I just started putting one foot in front of the other. Pretty quickly, I settled into a pace. It always is easier to get going when it's chilly (mid 50s) since you want to get moving to warm up.

The musky smell of eucalyptus and damp earth filled the air. I smiled at families, runners, walkers, and cyclists, who filled the trail. Everyone gave me cheerful smiles in return, fueling me with positive vibes. I reached Vasona Park in time to catch a glimpse of the little train making a circuit with parents and kids on-board. They smiled and waved. A pair of white ducks nestled happily together on the other bank. The water levels of the reservoir were eerily low; NorCal must be going through a drought. Normally, the creek is a rushing rapid this time of year; today it was a low, lazy trickle. I feasted my eyes on the water fowl--Canandian geese, ducks, coots, cormorants, and egrets. A black cat stalked its unsuspecting prey in the grass, so focused on his task he was completely oblivious to my passing kisses.

I reached the turn-around and headed back, bewildered by how good I felt. I had been clocking my time at the mile markers and was managing a comfortable 9:30 pace. Not bad considering the bike ride yesterday. Parts of my body took turns complaining. My left knee, then the arches of my feet from my new orthotics. Followed by my big toe where a new callous was forming. I patiently blocked out each nagging ache and twinge, knowing it would pass and eventually grow numb. This little shred of knowledge, expectation, helped greatly in dealing with the inevitable agonizing pain of a long run. Oddly enough, climbing uphill felt great. No problems there as I surged up every incline. Downhill was a completely different story. My quads screamed, and I grimaced as I half-skipped, half tip-toed down each descent. My quads were completely shredded. Feeling a little fatigued, I popped a Cliff Blok at 60 minutes, even though I didn't feel hungry. Sure enough, a few minutes later, my gait felt easy and rhythmic. I popped another one 15 minutes later, and this took me home.

The scenery was beautiful. I felt like I had been dropped into the middle of a painting. The noonday sunlight trickled through the trees lining the path, drenching the grass in flax and the leaves in cornsilk, a stark contrast to their deep native green. The sunlight played shadows on the lush mountains in the distance, tinting them a deep plum purple lined in amber. I drank it all in, feeling a quiet stillness inside. I wanted to linger here just a moment longer. I exchanged a smile and a wink with another passing runner, as if we each shared the same secret to happiness. At mile 9, my body parts were no longer taking turns--they were all yelling at the same time. Knowing I only had a mile left to go, I dug in and pushed towards the finish. When I finally finished, I felt fully satiated, albeit slightly tired. Like all long runs, there had been lows and there had been highs, but luckily on this one, the highs had far outweighed the lows.


Rainmaker said...

Wow - 78 miles in December, very nice!

bunnygirl said...

Your run sounds lovely. I wish I could run in such pleasant scenery, but it would take too long to drive to anything even close to what you describe.

Funny what a difference a few calories can make, isn't it? We know it with our brains, but it's easy to forget when we're in the moment.

Wes said...

Merry Christmas, Rachel! Enjoy the holidays with yo family in sunny and (sometimes) warm California :-)

Beth said...

impressive-that's a mega bike ride..longer than any i've done.. i definitely want to ride w. your group soon- sound laid back and fun! any chance you'll ever do sundays? merry christmas!