22 Miles- In the Mountains!

Song I kicked off the run with:  So Hard- Rihanna
Distance: 22 miles
Time: 3:22

I had been fearing this day all week. It’s not that I haven’t run or trained for marathons before, I usually just head out the door for my long runs and figure I’ll do my best and take it step by step and I always seem to make it back ok. But today I am in Arizona, at altitude and in any direction that I run, I would be forced to make a pretty significant climb uphill. On Tuesday I ran up into one of the mountain ranges, but it was only 8 miles…

Knowing I’d have a few hours ahead of me, I woke up early and mentally prepared myself for the run. I had my Garmin, my iPod, my new Brook’s Adrenaline shoes on (bought them a few days ago- this shoe is AWESOME, I’ve run in Adrenalines before but this shoe update makes them that much better), my water belt, Mint Chocolate GU, and a few Clif Shot Blocks (orange). I headed out the door in the sunshine, it was bitter cold but I didn’t really mind. The first 7 or so miles were steadily uphill, very mild but still a slight climb. I was running at about a 8:30/8:40 pace which for me is a very fast long run. Mile 8 and 9 were rolling hills, and the weather was beginning to warm up a bit. Just as I was making great time, at mile 9.5, the road I was running along turned into a dirt path running up into the mountain range. It was a STEEP incline, but I forged ahead. Determined to keep going until I hit 11 miles, I slowed down a bit and continued.

I don’t really mind hills really, since it seems like the more hills I climb, the more beautiful views I get to see (at least this is true of San Francisco). The trail was phenomenal. Although it slowed my pace down significantly, the sights were incredible. When I reached 11 miles, I turned around and slowly made my way back down the mountain. I am always cautious of steep downhills as I don’t have the best knees. I was still on pace to run 9 minute miles as I approached the road again at mile 12.5. The rest of the run was pretty uneventful, I slowed down somewhat, took it easy, and tried to just keep running until the end. I did get a side ache and my stomach felt funny (which my dad said can often be attributed to altitude changes) and I wasn’t really able to slurp down the GU I’d brought along. It was also very hard for me to stay hydrated in this dry climate, so I had a lot of water sloshing around in my tummy.

Overall, it was beautiful but a challenge. Pretty exhausted, I joined my family for sandwiches and games. We played trivial pursuit and I aced the “Running” category :). I’m getting excited to go back to San Francisco and my routine of work, runs, cooking with my roommates, etc. And wow- 2010 is only a week away. Although working at The San Francisco Marathon, it has felt like it’s been 2010 for several months now… Less than 7 months until Race Day- let the fun begin!


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