I faced my fears tuesday and headed out on the trail by my apartment for a 4 mile jaunt in the wilderness.
(yep, this is the trail about 100 ft from my front door!)
Previously my pr on time heading out has been about 15 minutes, before I'd get too scared and turn back. Tuesday I went out for a whopping 23 minutes! Not so important was the time, though, as was the fact that I turned around when I planned to turn around, and not because I was scared. Of course, yesterday I read a book about Santa Cruz trails that explicitly refererenced mountain lion sightings on this trail and to not take it alone. Great.
Wednesday I felt like being both lazy and "fast" and so did a paved route (same as Sunday's, but turned around at 4.5 to get 9 miles in) It went well, and I had awesome pacing for the last few miles, hitting 9:30s for 2 and 8:50 for the last! Granted, this is relatively flat, so it's not like I'm pushing hills, but still! I'll take a sub 9 minute mile any day :D
Thursday I ran a very paltry 1 mile as I wanted to save myself for the weekend running extravaganza that I had planned. Just ran on the gym treadmill, doing a 9:44 mile :)
Today I ran for the first time with other runners since I've been in Santa Cruz. Mimi, a very nice woman who reads my blog, invited me to join her and a few friends on a medium run in Pogonip park, which is about 5 minutes from my house.
I arrived just before 10:15 (amazing to have a late start!) and got to meet her adorable puppy while waiting for the other two to arrive. Now, in meeting new runners, I have this insecurity that I think most non-athlete athletes have. I look at them and think to myself, "oh god, they look like runners! I'm never going to be able to keep up!" Now, I suppose at this point, I don't necessarily not look like a runner (especially when I'm dressed to the 9s in my wicking clothes and trail shoes) but I'm not necessarily, well, built like a runner. I still very much have in my mind the non-athletic, non-running version of me, and I'm not quite sure if that's still how I look to the rest of the world.
Anyways, my fears were slightly founded, but in a relatively harmless way. The women were definitely all faster than me, but I was able, more or less, to keep up, though was definitely sounding a bit like a train with all the huffing and puffing I was doing going up e-con, the one major hill of the run. It's good for me to push myself, though, and I really appreciated being forced to go a bit outside my comfort zone (at least that's what I kept telling myself going up that hill! This is what training is about. Pushing yourself so that you get better). Even more wonderful, though, was once again having the pleasing company of others while I was out there. I wasn't doing too much talking on account of the train-like breathing, but it was really nice to listen to the distracting chatter of the others as they discussed their recent marathon success and future goals, as well as just day to day talk about their children. I forgot how quickly 8 miles (okay, 7.9) could fly by!
It was also wonderful to be in a new park, and an amazingly beautiful one at that. The entrance is just a few blocks from Mimi's house, so she runs there alone often, and I'm thinking it'll be one of my new playgrounds as well :) It has a bit of everything, from some meadows to the amazingly cushy redwood forests that reminded me of being back on Mt tamalpais. We hit up both firetrails and singletrack, and I really just had such a good time out there. The run was mostly uphill the way out, so the way back just flew by and before I knew it I was done with the day's run. Hopefully I'll get to run with these women again soon, and eventually meet even more Santa Cruz runners. It's nice not to feel so alone in this city any more :)
Tomorrow morning at around 5 am I'm taking off to join my friend Sarah and her Luna Chix on a 30k run in Redwood parks in Berkeley. We'll be following the PCTR trail run route, so it should be nice! So long as I'm not too dead, I want to experiment with this double weekend run thing and try to get in 8-10 on Sunday.
I've just written out a preliminary training schedule for now until the 50 miler to make sure I'm as prepared as I'm going to be and, I'll admit, I'm a little intimidated! I'm so excited to make that next step though, so I know all those miles will be worth it :)
As a final note, a huge good luck to all the 100 milers tomorrow at Burning River! Josh and especially Mike (who's doing his first 100!), and Kim (who's pacing!) have such a great time out there :)
Have great weekends everyone!