It was cold yesterday. Too cold. Maybe not THAT cold for my northern friends, but still... cold enough for here. The running group met at 8 AM, but I opted to sleep in. It was so delicious, getting out of bed at 9 AM. With Dee Dee and Matthew sleeping in late, I spent a quiet morning pondering where I would like to get my long run in for the day. Temps would peak at 42 or so around 3 PM. I decided to give Kennesaw Mountain a go.
After spending some time with Dee Dee, I got dressed at 3 PM and left the house at 3:30. I thought surely the cold weather would keep people indoors, but I was rather surprised to pull up to the mountain and see the parking lot was full. I had noticed a new parking lot on the right as a drive by. I can't remember the last time I ran at the mountain. It must have been a year or more. I turned around and drove the half mile back to the parking lot and found a good parking spot. I waited at the entrance for my Garmin to sink up, then took off running towards the mountain. Due to the wind, I had opted to wear a short sleeve and a long sleeve technical shirt. At the start of the run, it was kinda warm. By the end of the run, I was grateful for my foresight.
The road to the mountain was going to be the only flat stretch of this run. I stopped at the visitor center to drink some water and use the facilities, then took off down the trail. My goal for the day was 14 miles. As I started going up and down the hills, I got to thinking... The park probably closed at dark (actually 5:30 PM). It was supposed to get dark at 6 PM. If I did 14 miles, I would not be back until almost 6:30 PM. About three miles in, I decided to just do 12 miles, and get back to my car by 6! I didn't want them to close the gate and lock me in.
I ran out past the Cheatham Hill visitors center where I had to cross a rather busy road. Evidently, the good citizens of Georgia still aren't aware of the law for stopping for pedestrians in a cross walk. Grrr! After crossing the street, I made my way along the road for while before meeting back up with the trail. I ran a short bit, and my Garmin went off, indicating I had reached the five mile point. This was the farthest I had ever ran. One more mile meant new territory! As I followed the packed gravel road into the forest, up ahead, three white tail deer crossed the road. I continued on for another five minutes or so before hitting mile six and my turn around point.
At this point, I started to get worried about my car, and I picked up the pace. I noticed the deer in a field off to my left. I counted nine of them as I ran by. I crossed over a wooden bridge, and I heard some rustling in the leaves to my right. A small possum was staring me down. I kept running, not wanting to hang around to hear him hiss. The ups and downs had taken their toll on my muscles. I was tired and I was kicking about a 9:30 per mile pace. I passed a few people on the trail, but for the most part, it was just me. The dwindling light made footing even more of a challenge. Twice I stepped on a rock or root that bent my right foot up, causing intense pain. Fortunately for me, it wasn't serious nor permanent.
Near the visitor's center, the trail exits the wood next to the road. I opted to follow a little path down to the road and get on the side walk. I followed the road back to my car. The Garmin beeped 12 miles just outside the entrance to the parking lot, and it felt so good to stop running. My legs were just shot, certainly from running up and down the hills, but also from kicking up the speed a bit. All that worrying about the car was for naught. Everything ended up just fine.
This morning, as I reviewed my schedule for the next couple of weeks, I realized that I made a few mistakes. I have one more build cycle in which to increase my mileage to fourteen then fifteen miles. No need to rush. Also, I added a fourth mile to my cruise intervals on Thursday, and this after doing a tempo-ish run on Wednesday. A bit much don't you think?
This week coming up is a recovery week. Plenty of time to ponder where to go from here... and I'm itching to get back into the pool :-)