Friday night was another instance of many definitive decisions being made concerning whether or not I was going to run, but by midnight I was still changing my mind, so it just ended up not happening. This meant that I had to either run 15 miles on Saturday, or fail my mission of 25 miles a week. Obviously I was going to at least shoot for the 15.
I like to do my long runs on the Leif Erickson trail. There are quarter-mile markers along the entire route so it’s easy to know exactly how far to go. When I’m doing a long run, it’s always mentally a lot easier for me to just think about how I’m going to run to the mile marker for half the amount I want to run. Once I make it there, I have no option but to run back, so it seems like I’ve done it already. Kind of. So yesterday I just considered that I would be running to 7.5 miles, and that isn’t that hard. Then I would just have to turn around and finish up – it’s also downhill on the way back, so goes by a little quicker.
The first few miles of the trail have tons of people on them, but once you get past mile 3 you see far less runners, and very few walkers. By mile 6, it can be pretty rare to see anyone else at all. When I got to mile 6, I did see one other person. It was a woman who wanted to do a 15 mile run also, but felt like it was too isolated to run out there by herself, so was kind of jogging in place while deciding what to do. I guess this is a legitimate concern, but like many safety aspects of running, it’s one that I have generally ignored up to this point. I feel like I’m a little safer since I run with my dog, even though I’m not sure how much he would protect me from bad-guys, and it was busy enough out there that I probably was still within screaming distance… but I do always remember the time I was stretching at the trail-head and overheard one woman warning another of a flasher that frequents the trail and targets young women. Maybe I should be concerned about that.
So I ran with/body-guarded this lady for a few miles, until we had gone out and back to the 7.5 mile marker and were at the point where Leif intersects with Saltzman Road (which doesn’t turn into an actual road until much later, but I’ll get to that in a bit). This woman was training for the Eugene marathon, which happens in early May. The fact that we were both running 15 miles but she was training for a May marathon while I’m not doing one until October made me think I should do one sooner. I might. But maybe not. Right before we got back to the Leif-Saltzman intersection, she told me she was going to walk for a bit, so I left her and kept going.
I brought one of those packets of gel-food along, so I decided to eat it at this point. I think I had kind of imagined it tasting like the inside of a Gusher (so basically flavored corn-syrup), so I was sorely disappointed when I ate it and it was super disgusting and did not taste anything like a Gusher. It did help me feel less hungry though, which I guess is the main objective. Once I was no longer distracted by the not-Gusher snack, I realized I hadn’t noticed a quarter-mile marker in a while. I decided that this was because I was totally in the zone and was flying by them without paying attention to them. After a couple more minutes, I came to a gate, at which point the trail ended and turned into an actual road. I realized that I had not been running down Leif this whole time, but had gone straight down Saltzman. Somehow between saying goodbye to that woman and trying to eat my snack, I stopped paying attention to where I was going and took the wrong path. I briefly considered running down Saltzman and seeing where it took me, but luckily decided that was a bad idea (which would have involved a lot of running down St. Helen’s Rd). Instead I just turned around and ran back to the intersection so I could head back on Leif. Once I got there, I looked at the posted map, and ascertained that I had just added two and a quarter miles to my run.
So 15 turned into 17, a full 3 miles more than I have ever run at a time, and 7 miles longer than I’ve run in about 4 months. It wasn’t so bad either, except today my legs are super tired and I’ve had to eat a lot of bagel products.
The main thing that I learned from this experience, is that I can slack off all week and just do most of my miles on the last day. Which is good to know, because I can foresee this happening a lot.
A map of Leif Erickson, in case you’re interested – my start is on the first page, where it says Thurman St Gate, and the second page highlights the Leif-Saltzman intersection where I went wrong.
Miles run this week: 27
Miles run in 2010: 77