a walk (run) in the park

Had a really nice trail run this morning down at Cougar Mountain.  I bucked tradition today by not getting horribly lost too.

I like running there a lot, and although I’ve been out there a bunch, I don’t go often enough to remember my way around without bringing a trail map along.  When I go out with the running club, we amuse passersby because we stop at every trail junction, pull out all of our maps, and point in different directions.  And get horribly lost anyway.

The last time out there, I ended up running with Nina – who is typically quite a bit faster than me.  She slowed down for me that day, and we had a really nice run.  I think it amounted to about 10 miles, including the famed De Leo Wall trail.

Today, I set out with the goal of running for about 3 hours, and hopefully covering around 15 miles.  I planned a route that took me around the mountain clockwise, with so many turns I couldn’t possibly remember them all.  Instead I marked up a map and took it along.  Somewhat deliberately, I planned to do most of the climbing on the second half of the run, just as a good challenge.

It was beautiful.  I think the temperature must have climbed from about 35 up above 50 in the time I was out there.  The trails are mostly under trees, but I definitely felt a boost of vitamin D from today’s sunshine.  I took it pretty easy, shuffling along in no particular hurry.

It was a pretty easy run until I went down along the Wilderness Cliffs trail.  The descent was steep, and I started to feel it in my quads.  The trip up Wilderness Creek was a lot more gradual, so I should probably try the difficult 1 mile ascent the other way next time. 

I also figured out why people consider De Leo Wall soooo difficult.  Today, and also with Nina, I took the trail of that name.  For a really good time, you should venture over the wall via the viewpoint trail.  The ascent is wicked – looks like about 350 vertical in less than a quarter mile.  I started to come down from the top to take a peek, and made it about a third of the way before turning around.

I did walk on the more difficult ascents, so clearly have some strength-building to do.  When I finished though, I felt like I could have gone on another hour if I’d wanted to (or had gotten lost 🙂 ). 

So – I’d planned this particular run to determine whether I might be able to do the Free State Trail Marathon in Lawrence Kansas in a couple of months.  I don’t know very much about this race other than that it is small, looks like fun, and is in a state I’ve not visited, let alone run a marathon in.  Need to make travel plans soon, but I might just mail the race director to get a sense of what the course profile is like first.  I suspect the heat might be an issue, and would hate to get hit with a bunch of climbing during a 70+ degree trail run.  Even without climbing, I’m not counting on a PR, just a good time and a reasonable challenge.

All things being equal, the timing looks good, and my training has gone pretty well so far.  Gotta do more hills and strength training though!

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