Long Run Saturday: 13 Trail Miles

I have this race coming up in two weeks, my first trail race ever.  I decided it would be good to have at least one long run on a trail, or any surface other than pavement. I headed back out to my new boyfriend my new favorite trail, the River Bluffs Trail.  It's probably in better shape than the trails I'll run on at the race, but it's still different than running on the road.

Plan for the run: I've liked the ascending workouts I've done on long runs so far, so I thought I'd try out another one this week.  I started off with running .5 miles and built up to running 2 miles.  Plan was to mirror what it will be like race day, with more running and harder running at the end.

Route: The River Bluffs Trail is easy to follow.  It's crushed limestone gravel in most places, with a few places paved for short distances, mostly leading up to and over bridges and overpasses.  I went from the trail head and planned to use US 212 as my turn around point.  I wound up using a massive puddle just before US 212 as the turn around point, but that didn't really change the game plan.

Weather: It was 36* when I started running and maybe slightly warmer than that when I stopped.  It was super sunny.  I had my sunglasses on for the first seven or eight miles while there was a breeze.  Once the wind stopped, the glasses started to fog up so I took them off.  It was cooler than my last long run and significantly less humid as well.  I was fine while I was running but the moment I stopped, I got really cold.

Execution: This run went really nicely.  I stuck to the plan, focused more on my perceived effort than my real life pace, and had a blast.  The trail was crowded but not quite as packed as I was expecting.  It was a really nice day and we haven't had many of those lately.  There were some bikers, most of whom had dirt and puddle splatter all the way up their backs.  There were a few runners and walkers and a couple families out enjoying the day.

Nutrition: I carried by CamelBak.  Yes, the one from here.  I sipped small amounts all through the run which is my preferred method for water intake.  Also, I'm gross and I spit a lot more when I do this.  That's fine in a trail run.  Right?  I had a pack of gu chomps and I'd planned to eat it at miles 4 and 5 and again at 8 and 9.  The intervals sort of made that impossible, so I just had one or two every time I stopped.  I'd had a fairly large (for me before a run) breakfast so I didn't get nearly as hungry as I otherwise would've.  After the run I stopped at the Depot Coffee House and tried to have a Mocha but it came out tasting like someone poured Hershey's chocolate syrup in milk, forgot the coffee, and added sugar.  Boo.  I threw it out. When I got home I had bacon and eggs.

What I learned for race day: This was a great run and taught me a lot about what to expect for the race.  Every minute or two I'd be all "Oh, I should remember that too".  For example:
  • Phone carrying strategy: I started with my phone in my pocket but immediately wished I'd taken my wrist carrier with me becuase it's easier to feel the phone vibrate when it's on my wrist/arm.  (Phone vibrates and makes a noise when I'm supposed to start running.)  I'll do that differently on race day.
  • Pacing: Calm down! Shortly into the run I realized that pacing will be different on trails than on the road.  Apparently they weren't joking about that.  I thought I was going along at a good clip but the pace my phone said didn't match my expectations.  Instead of running faster I decided to gauge my effort and how I felt and not worry about the pace of things.  Wise decision. 
  • Hyrdration: We'll see how I feel on race day.  I carried my CamelBak with me today and I'm not sure if I will on race day or not.  Even though it's ridiculous, I still like carrying it better than a hand held.  But there are a lot of aid stations on this course.  Will I even need a pack?
  • Race day plan: By the end of the run, it was also clear to me that I need an actual plan for race day.  Up to this point, I hadn't had one.  I'd been all "oh, let's just see how this goes". In todays run I liked the longer intervals better than the shorter distances.  I wound up running them faster and felt more comfortable than the little intervals at the beginning of today's run.  For race day I will focus my intervals on minutes versus mileage.  I will have a few short intervals to begin with and warm up, and then have most of the intervals be 8 or 12 minutes with some 16s and 20s at the end.

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