Saturday, September 23, 2006

One Dog, One Crazy Guy, Two Rattle Snakes, 18 Miles

I’ll get to the rattle snake part at the end (it isn’t all that exciting).

As I indicted yesterday, I’m just cruising through this week and next while I fret about an appropriate marathon preparation program for the Carlsbad Marathon in January. It hadn’t been a stellar week so far. I started out on Monday sick; Tuesday I strained my right calf; Wednesday I took off to let the calf rest; and Thursday and Friday were OK or at least I didn’t pick up any new injuries.

I had originally thought about running another easy 8 miler along the trails in Reach 11 Park this morning, but fellow blogger Michele got me thinking about a different run last night. Michele banged out a nice 18 miler with her friend Lana on Friday (where do these people find the time?) - I was so impressed with the description of her 18 miler, that I thought that maybe I could try one myself. My longest run to-date had been 16 miles, a distance I’d never imagined I could ever run, but perhaps 18 was reachable.

Since I don’t have a running buddy, I conned my 3 year-old lab, Cooper, out of bed at 5:00 AM and drove him over to Reach 11 Park just as the sky was starting to lighten. I had no particular pace in mind, but quickly settled into a 9:15/mi rhythm. I let Cooper off the leash and he spent most of the first 12 miles literally running circles around me.

Other than a crazy guy camping out under a large Paloverde tree and screaming incoherently, there really wasn’t much to do except to watch Cooper chase birds and rabbits; totally unaware of how many hours he’d be out this morning. The miles just ticked by and I was gaining that invincible feeling runners get when the pace is a bit slower than normal and weather is cool enough to preclude over-heating. You just get into that groove and run.

On the 12th mile, my Zen-like experience was wearing off quickly and I took a short water break for me and dog (I’d stashed a large thermos of water by one of the trails). The couple minutes it took to get Cooper to drink was very refreshing and I immediately picked up the pace to 9:08/mi for the next 4 miles. I even ran by the crazy guy again. He was still sitting in a sleeping bag under the same tree babbling about something. A wiser person would have been worried.

Once I got by mile 16 I was very much aware that I was in totally new territory. Copper had had enough of rabbits and birds and had falling in behind me. He’s very strong and his tail was still wagging, so he wasn't too concerned with his health.

My tail, on the other hand, wasn’t wagging. My pace was slowing down and I was still nearly 3 miles from my car. My Garmin beeped again at 17 miles and I was thankful that I only had another 5280 feet go. Any thought of running past 18 miles and continuing on to the car left my consciousness. Michele had run 18, I was going to run 18 and not a foot further.

On the last mile we passed close by a bush on the left side of the trail and heard an animal rustling about. Cooper stopped to investigate and of course it was a rattle snake. Fortunately, the snake set its rattles in motion and scared the wits out of the dog who quickly caught up with me. As I’m looking back to make sure he’s ok I spotted another 4 foot rattle snake stretched out next to the trail, 3 feet from me. It was none too happy to see me (or the dog I presume) and started rattling to warn me off. No problemo there. I know I can out run a rattle snake, but I don’t like getting that close to one.

We finally finished the 18th mile and walked back to the car for the short drive home, picking up the dog's water dish and thermos along the way. I had intended to sit in an ice bath after fixing breakfast for me and my youngest daughter but laid down on a couch and took a two hour nap instead. I’m feeling great right now ... we’ll see what sort of aches tomorrow morning brings.

Training for the week:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 8 miles, easy, 9:09 avg pace
Wed: More Rest
Thr: 8 miles, easy, 9:07 avg pace
Fri: 8 miles, easy, 9:03 avg pace
Sat: 18 miles, long, 9:17 avg pace


Mike said...

Make the title "Two Crazy Guys", it might be more appropriate. I'm proud of you Phil, that's a hell of a long run, especially before you've even really started your marathon prep. What is it about that last mile that brings out things like snakes and such?

If you're going for Carlsbad and looking for a good marathoning book, I really think you would enjoy Pete Pfitzinger's "Advanced Marathoning", if you don't have it already. It has a very nice program that peaks at 55 MPW, and you can choose a 12, 18 or 24 week preparation. With your timeframe it might be a good fit. Irish Thomas has been following Pfitz for awhile and he's done quite well with it. Just a thought.

Michele said...

I am so glad to know that I pushed you to do an 18 miler. But did you have to run that FAST?????
I wish my dog could run 2 miles much less 18.
Great job and congrats!!!

DawnB said...

Nice job. What a great run!!!

Feminist Runner said...

Oh my god Phil! That's awesome! You just picked up and ran 18 miles -- wow.
And your dog ran 18 miles? And you can outrun a rattlesnake?

This whole post amazes me on levels I can't express. I am in the shock and awe phase. Especially about the part where you were done in time to eat breakfast.

Lana said...

Michele has been telling me about you, so I thought I'd check out your blog...I like it!! Great job on the 18 miler - that is a great pace!! I won't even comment on the know what I mean - they frighten me beyond my imagination.