Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised how rough this morning's 18 miler was. My 18 mile runs have historically been tough runs, and this was no different. I expected that the warm temperatures would make for a tough run. The heat became a factor late in the run, but to be honest, it really wasn't that hot. I've run in hotter temperatures, but the fact that I was running on fumes and expended most of my energy early in the run made the heat seem more stifling than it actually was.
The crew today consisted of Rob, Katie and Linda. Linda ran 12.5 miles with us, which was probably 4 miles more than she had planned on doing. We ran up north first, intending to turn around after 4.5 miles. When we found that we could go farther now that the trails have opened up, we did so. It was rocky footing, though, and where it wasn't rocky it was sandy. The terrain has definitely changed since the fires and the subsequent floods during the winter. Some of the trail got washed out and now they are in the process of restoring them.
One catalyst for why we wanted to go farther up Angeles National Forest was the shade and pleasant weather there. We all knew that we weren't going to be so fortunate later on when we're out in the sun. For the shade alone we were willing to go through the trouble of running on rocky terrain. We ran to Elmer--my first time since before the fires--and kept going, another 1.5 miles or so. It was tough, though. The trails were washed away and we had to cross the stream several times. What trail there was was sandy and rocky. We used up a lot of energy running here, or at least I did. I'm not the most agile person, so I had to be extra careful running on uneven terrain--not to mention keeping an eye for possible snakes! I probably was too careful, though, which led to rolling my right ankle twice. Once would have been fine, but the second was too much. I finished the run fine, but afterwards my lower leg has been a wee bit sore. I'm not limping and it's not sprained, just a little overworked.
It was such an effort to keep running past Elmer and into the campgrounds that our pace slowed to over 11 minutes per mile. Figuring out where to cross the streams took a lot of time. When we finally turned around, when it was obvious that the trail wasn't going to get any easier or simpler, we were able to run back at a faster pace. We took a circuitous route to get up, but running back was a more direct route. In fact, we shaved a quarter mile running back than we did running up.
As I expected, though, the latter half of the run--the remaining 5.5 miles south--was a tough one. As rugged as the terrain was up in the mountains, it was at least cool and shady. The sun quickly sapped my energy in that last part. I was whining--a lot. I tried keeping up with Katie and Rob, but it was no use. I ran my own pace behind them and tried to keep my spirits up. My single goal was to not fall too far behind. I was about a minute behind, but at least I could still see them. I'm not sure what our finish time was, and I really don't care. I was just glad to get 18 miles under my belt. When we got back to Lot K we just sat in the shade for a good half hour. Katie had the foresight to pack a cooler and we enjoyed some cold water and Gatorade.
The good thing about tough runs is that it makes you appreciate the effort more. I had a rough time, but I'm proud that I plowed ahead even though it felt like crap. I kept running. Also, as bad as the run was, it was also enjoyable. Certainly the scenery of running in the forest was something I've missed. We also encountered a couple of attractive guys. One was a fireman camping with a buddy by the stream. Definitely a nice thing to see deep into a run. The second was a guy who seemed like he was riding in from a movie set. He was on a horse and rode towards us and gave us a movie star smile as he passed. Katie and I were tempted to run back and get another look.
After the run, Katie and I grabbed breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien. It was a fortunate melding of the minds as I had been craving their praline butter during the run. We then met up with Nate and checked out the Chalk Festival at Paseo Colorado. Had I not been so tired I would have stayed a little longer and taken in the car show and other entertainment. Still, I saw the impressive art work being done. My favorite was this depiction of the movie "Up" which prompted me to watch the movie again tonight.
I had planned to hang out in West Covina in the afternoon, but I was so tired that I changed my mind and headed home instead to shower and take a nap. I was so exhausted. Next week we're planning to run 8 or 10 miles but at our desired marathon pace of 8:30-ish. It's a shorter run, but the pace will make up for it. This week I'm hoping to get in three runs, but I'd be lucky if I get two.