Week 22, 2013: Good ending of a great month!

After nearly 50K run on Saturday and a rest day on Sunday, on Monday I was ready to continue the long weekend adventure. As I mentioned before my plan was to go to Point Reyes, which I heard is a beautiful place, but it being almost 2-hour drive away I would be too lazy to go there on an average weekend.

The amazing thing is that I was really tired on Sunday and went to bed extremely early, around 21:30 or so. I set an alarm for 8:30am, just in case, but I was almost sure it won't be needed; after all when was the last time that I slept 11 hours? Those good times seem to be long gone, right? Well, wrong. On Monday morning I was woken up by the alarm and if it didn't ring I'd have easily slept more.

Instead I hopped into the car, went to grab a quick breakfast and set off towards Point Reyes (all photos in this post are from there). After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, when I hit highway 1 things got really annoying as I got stuck after an irritably slow car. It's a windy, mountain road so passing that car was not an option. And for some reason it happily ignored the signs asking Slower cars to use turnouts. Seriously, did they think it did not apply to them?? We were going at a snail pace. It started to rain so at least it ensured that I got there safely ;).

I arrived, parked, packed my backpack and started running. The rain was not much of a problem as it was just a light drizzle. However, shortly after I started, I hit a 400m hill. It was horrible. Sunday was not enough to recover and I still felt tired. And this hill was just killing me. Quickly my pace was reduced to a walk. And I only just started. What was supposed to be a ~50K run. I had to face the reality: I would not make it. I decided to forget about the planned distance and just make it into a short, hopefully enjoyable hike. As soon as I made this decision I started wondering: is it a sensible decision of a responsible person? Or a cowardly one of a quitter? I was torn between those two options but gladly before I could make up my mind I reached the top.

All of a sudden everything changed. Most importantly I started going down so I was back to running and it started feeling good. Also, the rain stopped.

So far I was going through a forest, damp from the rain and shrouded in fog. Soon afterwards I got out in the open where the trail reaches the coast. I was close to the ocean. I could not see it because of the fog, but I could hear and smell it.

Every once in a while I was awarded with beautiful views, some of which I hope I managed to capture in the photos. After my initial despair, it slowly turned into a nice, enjoyable run. I was out there, among beautiful nature. It was peaceful and quiet. And it reminded me why I like so much to do what I was doing.

When I was 20+ kilometers into the run it started to rain again. Again it was just a light drizzle but it was enough to make me wet and make me not want to stop and risk cooling down. Tiredness also set in and from there on I kind of started counting down the distance until the end. After all I decided to stick to my original plan, which meant a loop of almost 50K.

At some point I missed a turn and ended up getting slightly lost. As a result I missed the most popular trail in the park. But that's ok. I really liked this place, so I'm sure I'll be back one day.

Eventually I reached the car. 48 kilometers. Not bad, especially given how it all started. Funny thing is that it ended up being a substantially faster ran compared to the one on Saturday, of almost exactly the same distance: 6:14, versus 7:01. In both cases they were supposed to be easy runs, hopefully at a target pace (<24h) of the 100-miler that I'm training for. My Saturday run translates to 23:43 for that distance, but Monday's run is a much faster 20:54. I wonder how come that I was faster, as it certainly didn't feel that way (part of it is that I wasn't stopping in the second part of the run but that accounts for 15 minutes tops). I was almost certain that it was because it was a much flatter run, so I was surprised to see that elevation gain difference was actually not that big (1760m VS 1500m).

On the way back it rained again. And yet again I was stuck after another car that was going extremely slowly and did not feel like using turnouts...

The rest of the week is business as usual. Tuesday off, Wednesday CrossFit and then an easy run. On Thursday CrossFit again but then I'm too tired in the evening to go for another run. But I make up for it on Friday when I manage both yet another CrossFit workout followed up with a slow, flat, long night run -- 25K. The days are getting hot now so I quite enjoy this night run, when it's pleasantly cool.

Friday was the last day of May and May turned out to be my best month ever mileage-wise. I run 395km, coming very close to the magical 400km mark (I even considered going extra mile to reach it, but eventually decided it would not be smart to do that). Only once before I came close to that figure, in December 2011, when it actually lead to overtraining and shin problems.

Funny thing is that Strava was organizing The May Massive, a Challenge to run as many kilometers as possible in May, and my 395km... did not even give me a spot in the top 100! True, it was a popular challenge and my 132nd place meant I was still in the top 1% of this running crowd. But when my friends tell me that I'm a crazy runner, it's reassuring to be able to tell them that there are hundreds of more crazy people out there :).

Particularly impressive is the winner of the challenge who did... 1,291 kilometers (!!!!). When I saw this for the first time I was convinced that this is someone doing his runs by sitting in front of the computer and editing GPX files. But I was wrong. This Australian couple, as it turns out to be an account of a couple, decided to run around Australia, a marathon a day for a year, which will be a fundraising and awareness event to promote kindness and compassion to all living beings. They're almost halfway through, meaning that May was for them business as usual and they kept this mileage on for some months already. And they're approaching 60. What can I say. I'm speechless. Guys you rock.

On Saturday I have a well deserved day off and on Sunday we play volleyball with a bunch of friends. It takes us a while to warm up but eventually we're doing quite OK and it's lots of fun to play, with a follow-up in the Cheesecake factory. Afterwards I'm debating whether to go for a run but I'm tired and laziness wins. So in a sense it was not a great week, with just 3 runs, but on the other hand it's not often that I do only 3 runs in a week and yet only miss the weekly 90km target by a hair ;).

What next? Next Sunday I'll again be running 50K with Coastal Train Runs. Remember how few week ago I wrote that I'd love to run the 50K of the Skyline to the Sea Trail, going from the Saratoga Gap through the Santa Cruz Mountains all the way to the Waddell Beach and the Pacific Ocean? I had to give it up then as it was impossible to arrange such a run logistically. Well, guess what, there's a Coastal Trail Run race going over that trail next Sunday :). Needless to say I signed up right away. It'll be the first point-to-point race I'll be doing with them, which should be much more exciting than the usual loops.

Unfortunately at that time I didn't quite realize that the San Francisco marathon is on the following week :). Obviously there is no way I'll recover in time for that, but it's not a big deal I guess, as I didn't have any serious time goals and was planning to run it just for fun anyway.


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