Since we celebrated Easter yesterday, I felt much less guilt at taking off this morning for my long run at the Other Brad, ie. Bradley Palmer. There was frost on the grass, frost on my windshield and the thermometer was reading only 31 degrees when I left the house around 8:00 am, a bit later than anticipated but it was due to Sam sleeping in, so I won't complain! The park was pretty quiet, probably because most people were home with family for the morning.
I set out on the GAC January Fat Ass course, and was happy to find that there were only a few short stretches of snow and ice in the shadows, and that I would be able to run mostly on bare ground! Hurray! On the first lap, the mud was frozen too, so things were very dry and firm. The loop was in good shape, with only a few blowdowns, and I zoomed along, enjoying the quiet, sunny and cool morning. My plan was to keep the pace steady and at least a little bit quick. Of course, by quick, I was thinking 9:15 to 9:30 pace :-) The first loop went by quickly and easily. I stopped back at the car to shed my gloves and hat. The day was warming up. I didn't linger though, and set out for lap #2. Had to stop for a bathroom break right around mile 9, but otherwise, my stomach held up fine and I took in fuel every 4 miles or so.
I came through mile 12 in 1:54 or so, and knew that by the end of lap #3, Ryan would be meeting me for the final miles. I kept on chugging, and although my legs began to feel a bit heavy around mile 14, I was still feeling positive and pretty darn good. The uphill singletrack is always fun for me, so I ran up that as powerfully as I could and knew that in just a few miles, I would have company. Turns out, Ryan had gotten off to a late start (darn those kids :-) ) so he had just shed his sweatshirt when I pulled into the parking lot at mile 18. I think he was surprised to see me so soon too, and since I didn't want to stop at this point, we had a brief discussion about how to get in 4 more miles, and I took off with him catching up shortly thereafter.
We decided to skip the first part of the loop and hop on right near the parking lot. I didn't have too much energy for conversation, but it was nice to have company. I was determined to not let my pace drop too much while he was with me - I knew he wanted to get in a decent run too - so I just focused on keeping moving steadily along. Ryan stopped to pee and stretch shortly into the singletrack, telling me to go on ahead and he'd catch up. I didn't want to stop and walk, so I just kept running, figuring I couldn't be moving so fast that he couldn't catch me, but it did take a while :-) It felt good to be running well uphill at mile 20. We cut off the trail portion at the end and came in on the road. With pavement beneath my feet, the pace quickened slightly but it was a stretch on my end, anyway. Still, felt very happy to finish up a solid 22 in 3:31, and to feel good both mentally and physically. Of course, that's not to say I'm not hobbling around a little bit right now, though :-)
The thing I like about running this loop is that for a 6-mile course, it has a lot of variety. Stretches of carriage road and gravel path, dirt roads through the field, a fun stretch of hilly singletrack, and a bit of pavement. It is challenging enough to keep it interesting, but not so tough that it can't be run and run many times over. In the swampy areas, I saw new shoots of grass pushing their way up through the water and skunk cabbage poking out of the ground. I heard a red-winged blackbird (first of the season for me), and saw a Pileated Woodpecker fly overhead. On loop #2, once things had warmed up a bit, I heard spring peepers (!) and saw a few turtles in the ponds near the parking lot.
In any event, a good Sunday morning run, and a really nice weekend overall!
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