I headed out to my usual spot in the Massanuttens for a final long run before JFK. I had a great day and ran 37 tough miles in 6:45.
When I started out, it was a mere 32 degrees. By the end of the run it was almost 80 degrees. That's a big swing!
I knew it was going to get warm, so I started out in just a sleeveless shirt and shorts. I was freezing my cahones off for about 10 minutes, but the monster gnarly climb to Sherman's Gap warmed me up quickly. I've written about this climb before, but each time I'm surprised at how tough it is. I'd guess you climb 1,500 feet over 3.3 miles, but the tough part is that it starts out very flat and gets progressively steeper. My legs felt pretty good though, so the climb went well.
I descended back down to the valley and decided to take a new trail. The next 9 miles or so (18 total with the out and back) was all new to me. I was up on the ridge the whole time. While this lets you avoid the long continuous climb up from the valley, it has its own challenge of non-stop steep descents followed by steep climbs, as the ridge is consistently rolling and never flat.
Running is also more technical up top with lots of rocks. The massive amount of leaves on the ground didn't help either. I had to slow down a bit and really lift my legs higher than I'd like to avoid the visible and hidden rocks.
I hit the turnaround in 3:10. I was still feeling decent, but it was starting to get warm! I've been running in colder weather for a while, so it was a bit of a shock for it to be over 70 degrees. I started drinking a lot more and soon realized I'd run out of my 90 ounces of water I brought with me.
I had to slow down on the way back both because I was getting tired and conserving energy since I didn't have as much water as I'd like, but I still made pretty good time. I was mostly out of water with 4.5 miles to go, but I ran across some friendly mountain bikers who hooked me up. With some fluids in my system, I pounded down the mountain to finish the run strong.
For the first time in a long time, my muscles were cramping at the end of the run. Part of it is that this is by far the longest run I've done since Tahoe. It also doesn't help that I haven't been doing much mountain running. The rocks/leaves combination certainly played their part, too.
Nonetheless, I finished with more left in the tank, which is always a good sign. I drove myself over to Mcdonalds (which I do try to avoid) and did some quick refueling with a big milkshake and their new snack wrap.
As you probably realized from the Mcdonalds stop, but stomach held up really well. I do think I finally figured things out and have a good system going now (fingers crossed).
JFK 50 is up next, and I'm pretty pumped. Training hasn't been ideal, but these last two weekends will really help a lot. I'm a bit worried about having enough speed to post a fast time, but I think sub 7:30 should be doable (I ran 7:51 two years ago).
It's good to be back and feeling good!