I went over to Cheslen Preserve yesterday for what has become my bread and butter long run workout.  This one went much better than the last time I was over there.  The nature preserve has about 15 miles of trails through meadows and woods.  It has a nice variety of trails from single to double track and from flat to hilly.  My next race, ES100, is extremely hilly or borderline mountainous so my goal for all my long runs from here on out is to get as much vert as possible.  To that end, I limited myself to two 0.9 mile sections of trail.  The first section gets me down to the primary almost mile section of trail that I run back and forth until I hit my time goal (or run out of water).  This section of trail has more hills than anywhere else I know (220 feet gain per mile) so I’m forced to run this little bit when I want a lot of vertical gain.  I wished I lived near a mountain where I could get similar (or more) elevation gain over longer trails, however that’s not conveniently available to me.

You’re probably thinking that spending 5 hours running the same 2 mile stretch of trail gets pretty boring pretty quickly and you’re not too far wrong.  It’s not my favorite way to spend a Saturday morning running, however it’s excellent training.  My legs had an awesome level of soreness to them today.  They hurt in a good way and definitely let me know I got a workout in yesterday.

I had 5 hours scheduled and I ended up finishing only 71 seconds early.  I was on my way back at the end and realized I was going to be done 6-7 minutes early so took a very short detour down one trail before heading down the final stretch of trail to my car.  I learned from my last time out not to leave bottles stashed by the trail so used my car as an aid station.  I stopped back there once mid-run to reliquid up.  Refluid up?  Whatever.  You know what I’m talking about.  I ended up running out of water about half a mile from my car both times.  Since I was drinking to thirst and not conserving/limiting my fluid intake, going 7-10 minutes without anything to drink wasn’t too bad.

For fuel, I had 8oz of Ensure Plus right before my run and when I got back to my car at 2 hours 45 minutes.  They each pack 350 calories so I had 700 total over the course of my run.  My energy levels were good the entire time I was out, but I was definitely starting to flag a bit towards the end.  I attribute this more to the temperatures which increased from 62 degrees when I started a little before 7am to the high-70s.  This caused my pace to drop off from mid 12 minute miles for the first 3 hours to closer to 14 minutes at the end.  I finished just under 13 minutes (12:57) pace, which is right were I was last summer leading up to OC100.  I probably would have been a little quicker, but I was doing hill repeats on this one really steep section that gains about 100 feet in 1 tenth of a mile.  I was trying to bump up my vertical per mile and while I did (224 ft vs. 220) it really cost my poor piggies, which kept getting slammed into the front of my shoes.  They held up really well until about 90 minutes left in the run.  I stopped the extra repeats at that point, but still had to deal with bruised toes for the remainder of the run.  They’re back to normal today so looks like no harm, no foul.

Now I just sit back and chill with some short and/or easy runs until heading back over to Cheslen next Saturday for 5.5 hours.

Would you run the same short section of trail over and over again?

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